More on Happiness and Time Management – Lifehack - Happiness can be never-ending, but you need good time management skills to keep it that way.The article I write that was just published on Stepcase Lifehack talked about a connection I picked up in the research between happiness and time management – it’s beyond just a mere time management tip.

Building on that article, I recently made an interactive video that includes a self-assessment based on the idea of flow / productive happiness by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. You can find the video here in this example of the time management training that’s being done in my online program, MyTimeDesign.

One a slightly different note, I recently posted a video on the challenge that consultants have in helping their clients get better at time management. There’s a good reason that tips, tricks and shortcuts don’t work… and we all need to pay attention to this at a time of year when we are simply inundated with trivial lists on the topic.

A “Heckuva” Month – a post Sandy update

October was a “heckuva” month.

Hurricane Sandy made its first landfall here in Jamaica, before lashing out at Cuba, Haiti, The Bahamas and the north-eastern United States.

Everything came to a screeching halt as we lost Internet, water, power and telephone service (but not mobile service.) Fortunately, our home suffered minimal damage and despite a few leaks and scary gusts of wind we made it through unscathed. Many others lost a great deal more, and thankfully only one or two lives were lost here in Jamaica.

When I could muster up enough power to charge my laptop, I was able to make singificant progress on “The Book.” What started as a rather disjoint story at the end of September is now a complete and fairly coherent tale of one professional’s journey from time management 1.0 to 2.0. Without the help of a book or a class, Bill Crossley, the protagonist, is able to overcome his own lack of productivity and the subsequent threat of being fired to craft a new approach to time management that saves his team, and his life, from ruin.

It’s been a steep learning curve for me as the author of my first novel, in the form of a business fable. Humbling, even. I am much more comfortable writing in abstract terms, working with concepts and ideas. The creative process used to write a good piece of fiction is something that I will never, ever take for granted.

When will it be published?

Well, I’m looking at a January launch date – as soon as I can find an editor who feels comfortable with this curious blend of fiction and non-fiction that makes up this particular genre. Other peopular books that follow this method of teaching new ideas include “The Goal” by Eli Goldratt, “Who Moved My Cheese” and “The One Minute Manager” by Ken Blanchard. Patrick Lencioni has also completed quite a few books in this genre, including one on being a management consultant that is simply wonderful.

Last thing: my forays into e-Learning in the past year have burnished my commitment to offer online training on a 24-7 basis, rather than the once-in-a-while approach I have taken up until now. Eventually, I’ll be moving to a new video-driven training platform that will replace the current platform by this time next year.

So – stay tuned. There are a few surprises coming up that you might like that I won’t mention yet, including a special offer to take my flgaship online training – MyTimeDedesign 1.1.Plus+



A Wonderful Experience: Presenting at the ICD Conference

I just got back from the Chicago after presenting a session and a workshop at the Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD) 2012 Conference. The ICD is an international organization of Professional Organizers, and while I was there, I presented “Baby Steps 101/201: Radically Reducing your Clients’ Time Clutter.” It was an affirming, expanding and amazing experience. More to come on this in future posts.

New Posts at MyTimeDesign for Time Management Coaches

Over at I have started writing and posting ideas for time management coaches using the research done here at 2Time Labs.

It’s just a beginning, but there is a great deal more to come. The truth is, I can’t find another place on the Internet offering any real assistance for managers, trainers, coaches and professional organizers who have a commitment to help others make solid improvements.


8 fatal assumptions 3d2013 Update! You can now download The 8 Fatal Assumptions that Time Advisers Make at the website. It’s a free Special Report co-authored with Janice Russell that describes some of our latest ideas.

Look Out World! Our Open House Is Almost… Open…

I’m proud to say that our doors at 2Time Labs will be opening to the public on Thursday morning, and anyone can come in and take our MyTimeDesign programs.

It’s been a bear getting everything ready and in place for this virtual Open House, but now that it is, our programs will be offered again for the next two or so weeks.  It’s the second and final time we’ll offer them in 2011.

On offer to the public will be our free introduction: MyTimeDesign 1.0.Free, and one of our paid programs, MyTimeDesign 1.1.Plus+.  The Plus program has been heavily upgraded to version 1.1, and we think you’ll like the accessible price that it starts at.

I hope you find a program among these two that suits your aspirations, time and budget if you are at all interested in using 2Time Labs’s research in a practical way for tangible results.


Breakthroughs in Teaching Time Management via Elearning

I honestly thought that my on-line training programs were pretty decent, until I started to read some of the latest thinking… it kept me up last night after 12:00am and almost made me miss my bike ride this morning!

It comes from the Elearning Blueprint website authored by Cathy Moore, who has a fantastic blog called Making Change.  She has pioneered a new method of thinking about designing powerful Elearning called the “Action Method” that she describes in much detail at her site (a woman after my own heart!)

(As an aside, I love meeting other “wannabe-thinkers” who also want to change the world in some way, and believe me… she’s gotten the ideas presented in a way that’s concise and compelling.)

The reason I am loving what I’m learning is simple. I’m opening up my on-line programs for registration – MyTimeDesign 2.0.Free and MyTimeDesign 1.0.Plus+ – in September and I’m keen to make it the best on-line training in time management in the world.  One of the problems that I have to conquer is the transition from just giving out a bunch of information, to ensuring that participants who register end up taking action by building the habits that make up their upgraded time management system.

Well, she debunks the idea of dumping information, in favor of creating experiences and a light bulb went on for me, because that’s exactly what happens when someone takes my course.  Here are the experiences that I have come up with so far that people have when they encounter Time Management 2.0 in one of its forms.

  • Experience #1: Going from “I don’t need this” to “I need to change some things
  • Experience #2: Going from “I don’t know what things to change” to “I know exactly what I need to change
  • Experience #3: Going from “I need to change too much” to”I need to change a little at a time
  • Experience #4: Going from “I’ll never continue after I start” to “My support system makes it easy to keep going
  • Experience #5: Going from “I’m stuck because I can’t see a new level” to”I know how to set and find a new level whenever I want

If I understand the website correctly, good Elearning is about emphasizing these kinds of experiences.  They are quite real, and the aim of the Elearning is to ensure that the tools and information are given to help the learner to solve the problem themselves.  They get to discover the consequences of their choices, and don’t have to be told what they are: if it’s done well, they can see them for themselves.

When these experiences are powerfully crafted, they result in behavior changes that produce results in the real world.  They need not involve flash videos or anything fancy, and should just do enough to cause the behavior to shift.

I’m planning to use her principles to enhance MyTimeDesign 1.0.Plus+, which is starting to look quite different from it’s Free cousin due to the new angles that I’m adding. Stay tuned — ultimately, it’s really the participants who will be telling whether or not I achieve the big goals I have set for these programs.

Helping Clients Solve Time Management Problems

Recently, I have been thinking about making the 2Time methods available to consultants, coaches and trainers, or anyone who wants to use them to diagnose a client’s time management skills.

In the NewHabits program (and MyTimeDesign 1.0.Plus) I have devised several charts that participants have been using to discover their current time management profile and belt level.  The charts include an analysis of each of the 11 fundamentals.

Only after developing them did I realize… they could also be used with someone in a one-on-one coaching session.

I actually tested this approach with 2 clients — a lawyer and an accountant — and found that it saved a great deal of time, and provided them with instant insight to the habits that they needed to start working on.  Now that I have been submitting proposals to speak at conferences of Professional Organizers, I can immediately see where  they also could use these tools to do the same thing… save themselves and their clients a great deal of time by zeroing in on the habits they need to change in a systematic way.

The process would be simple, and more or less mirror the path I take in my training programs.

Step 1: Define a few key terms
Step 2: Teach one fundamental at a time, and help the client to score him/herself, and make a note of the habits to be changed.  Repeat this step for all 7 fundamentals
Step 3: List all the habits to be changed
Step 4: Schedule the habit-changes on a calendar
Step 5: Craft a fool-proof habit-support system

I might be overly ambitious, but I think that a skilled coach can take a smart client through the 7-fundamental version of this learning in a matter of 4-5 sessions of one hour each, as long as the client is willing to do some work on  their own.

A full one day class covering the same material takes at least 7 hours, and that includes the time to do the “homework,” so I think that my estimate might be an accurate one.

I know that most professional organizers focus their efforts on physical de-cluttering, and that a few also venture into the area of time management.  Maybe with the right tools, I could empower many more to expand the work they do, and provide some unique insight to their clients, with the help of an easy-to-use turn-key system.

On a side note, I have noticed that  when a consultant lacks a systematic process in time management, they are forced to use a fairly random bunch of anecdotes, personal practices and rules of thumb, without having a structured method to ensure that all the important bases are covered.  This kind of approach is hard to sustain with a smart client who asks lots of questions, and can’t understand why they should follow anyone else’s habit pattern, even if it’s written up in a best-seller.

With a thorough analysis of the 7 fundamentals that makes room for all levels of skill, they should be able to coach everyone from the novice employee to the most seasoned executive.

If you are interested in following the next steps I take towards getting this train-the-trainer program going, Let me know via email using the Contact form in the main menu at top.

Until then, let me know what you think about the idea in general.  Would it work?  Does it need additional content to make it easy to use?  Drop me a comment with your thoughts.

Sign Up! Save 5 Hours Per Week!

This post is a bit of a rant…

I just came across a Time Management and Productivity program that guarantees that the attendees on 4 teleclasses will save 5 hours per week of lost time.  It’s a money-back guarantee that has to be exercised half-way through the course for a full refund.

Unfortunately, you can’t get the refund after the program is over, so you aren’t really testing the quality of the ideas — just how you feel about accomplishing the goal at the half-way mark.

It ticked me off — mostly because there’s no way that we know of to measure, verify or prove to oneself that 1, 5 or 10 hours have been saved by using any new habits, technology or software.

Also, I hate like the fact that you don’t have a chance to do the full program before deciding whether or not you have saved 5 hours.  That kind of saving equates to some major habit changes for most people, and these don’t happen overnight.

I happen to be reading a great book: “Talent Is Overrated” by Geoff Colvin.  Among the great points he makes is the fact that the average person makes the most progress when they are learning to do something for the first time… like learning to drive a car.

Over  time, however, their rate of learning declines and flattens out as they stop getting any better.  In fact, after a while, their skills often deteriorate.

What world class performers do in every discipline is that they keep on learning, by engaging in rigorous, structured practice in their areas of greatest weakness… and they are willing to keep practicing even as the gains to be made occur painfully slowly.

Maybe the program that I bumped into is only for those who are just starting out in their careers, or whose time management systems are so broken that a 5 hour gain is possible?

That seems to be stretching things a bit, but I hope that those who sign up for MyTimeDesign 1.0.Free before it closes today find that in this programe:

  • there are no false promises
  • we have made it easy to rank yourself in terms of your skills
  • it’s even easier to identify upgrades regardless of your current level of expertise

This makes the program a unique one… and here is the link to the program information page if you’d like to find out more, but remember… new registration in this free training closes down today until May in a few hours.

A New Frontier for Time Management

There are some exciting technologies being developed in the world of gaming that will produce a tremendous breakthrough in time management skills.

Here’s why.

Time management as a field has suffered over the years from a problem of measurement. There is currently no single, easy, agreed upon way to measure one’s personal productivity.  This is a big, gaping hole in this field of study, as it prevents us from clearly comparing one technique to another, and one person’s skills to another.  It makes it difficult to do experiments with one’s habits, tools and technology and know whether they work or not.

Instead, we are left with anecdotes, feelings, impressions and opinions about what’s better, the same or worse.

It’s an awful state of affairs that allows the charlatans to promise that programs will “double your productivity,” “help you gain an extra hour each day” and “make lots more money” from improving your time management skills.

To make matters worse, there isn’t even a decent program that monitors and warns users about the defects of simple problems like email Inbox abuse, which becomes a problem when time isn’t being managed well.

But I recently found some hope.

In the Fast Company issue from December 13, 2010 I bumped into an article entitled: How Video Games are Infiltrating and Improving Every Part of Our Lives.  I haven’t played a video game in a long time… probably too long as I think I have lost touch with the joy and learning that comes from being a player.  I have had a hunch that improving one’s time management skills could be turned into a game that professionals play, which is part of the reason why I created the belt system here in 2Time, and in my training programs.

The article is based on a speech given by Jesse Schell, a professor and game designer, that is based on the premise that “a real-life game can be stacked on top of reality.  You’d get points for well, everything you normally do in the course of 24 hours.”  (Imagine getting points for every minute of the day you kept your Inbox empty!)

The key is to embed sensors in every part of your life, that together give you collective feedback on how you’re doing in whatever area of your life you choose to measure.

Have trouble waking up to your alarm?  Get a sensor that will give you points for how quickly you leave the bed, and have it show you your score at the end of the week.

“Sensors,” he said, “have gotten so cheap that they are being embedded in all sorts of products. Pretty soon, every soda can and cereal box could have a built-in CPU, screen, and camera, along with Wi-Fi connectivity. And at that point, the gaming of life takes off. “You’ll get up in the morning to brush your teeth and the toothbrush can sense that you’re brushing,” Schell said. “So, ‘Hey, good job for you! Ten points’ ” from the toothpaste maker.
After work, you go shopping. Points. Your daughter gets good grades in school and practices the piano? More points. You plop down on your sofa for some television, and “it’s just points, points, points, points,” because eye sensors ensure that you actually watch the ads. In the meantime, you chat with other viewers, play games designed around the ads, and tally more points. Sure, it’s crass commercialization run amok, Schell conceded, but “this stuff is coming. Man, it’s gotta come. What’s going to stop it?”
Part of this is a bit scary, but I also found great hope.  There must be better ways for us to measure time management skills with all the sensors that will be available to us.

What he’s saying has an inevitable air to it when you consider the stats he quoted:  “Sure, 97% of 12- to 17-year-olds play computer games, but so do almost 70% of the heads of American households, according to the Entertainment Software Association. The average gamer is 34 and has been at it a dozen years; 40% are women. One survey found that 35% of C-suite executives play video games.”
(Wow.  I’d better buy a new joystick and sign up for some video games!)

He also says that many succcessful games are already in play that might not be thought of as such, such as Weight Watchers, and Hundred PushUps which is sold as an app on the iPhone and tracks your progress to that particular goal.  Schell goes on to point out what he got from an early experience:” He was learning that a game is, at its root, a structured experience with clear goals, rules that force a player to overcome challenges, and instant feedback.”

This is a great outline for the ways in which games could be designed to help us manage our time better.

Back up a minute to the fact that time management is a misnomer, and what we are really looking at is habit management… or habit, practice and ritual management.  Participants in MyTimeDesign and NewHabits (my training programs) are taught that each belt level consists of certain habits that are practiced at a particular level. For example, a Yellow Belt must practice each of the 11 fundamentals at the minimum of a Yellow Belt’s level.  No mystery in that.

The thing I don’t like about this game I created, is that each person is left to be their own judge for the most part, unless they want to be “officially recognized” at a belt level, at which point they have to take a “test” with me, that’s essentially a phone call.  they have to go through a verbal “test.”  A lot of it is very subjective, and connected only to my judgment of their report, rather than hard data.

It would be much better if that weren’t the case, and if there were some sensors that would give the user immediate feedback on his/her performance, taking all the subjectivity out of the picture.  As their evaluator, I would also use the feedback to award them a particular belt.

A good game, after all, must have “a structured experience with clear goals, rules that force a player to overcome challenges, and instant feedback” according to the article.
The problem with the current game I have set up is that there’s no instant, objective feedback which makes the goals a bit fuzzy.

To be more specific, let’s look at some simple games that could be played using the 2 fundamental skills of “Capturing” and “Emptying.”

Game #1 – how long do you spend dispensing email once it enters your inbox?  Lose points for taking too long.
Game #2 – how many times do you check email per day?  Lost points for checking too often
Game #3 – how often do you use your smartphone during a task that requires your full attention (like driving)?  Lost points for checking
Game #4 – (this one requires an electronic pen such as livescribe) how long does it take for a manually captured item get emptied fom the pen/paper into your system – Win points for speed
Game #5 – how many time demands are in your capture points on average (lost points if the number is too high— or maybe even too low)

Here are some other games that I just made up on the fly…

Game #6 – how many times do you need to reschedule due to poor time estimation?  Gain points for good estimates (this would need some good sensors)
Game #7 – how much time did you plan between scheduled activities? Gain points for proper spacing
Game #8 – how long are your lists?  What’s the average sitting time for items on lists that are fast moving? Gain points for quality lists
Game #9 – a report each day/week on how well a user kep to the habits of their belt, and which areas need to be improved
Game #10 – An upgrad readiness report, which indicates whether or not the system is stable enough at the current belt level to contemplate an upgrade to the next

Then there could be a host of smartphone abuse games the measure the number of policy violations that a user incurs after promising himself not to do things like:
– text while driving
– check email in meetings
– send messages from the bathroom
– use the device on holidays

These could actually trigger a set of alarms, or in more extreme cases, actually shut down the smartphone for safety’s sake.  A company might have smartphone exclusion zones such as meeting rooms which block all outside communication with the flick of a switch.  There are, after all, some companies that are banning the devices from their meetings altogether, due to their employee’s inability to control their smartphone habits.

I imagine that apps, and even specific devices could be developed for each belt level, and given as tools for those who are at the appropriate belt level.

These are all games that are meant to encourage the right behaviours, and it’s conceivable that a belt could be rewarded to an individual based on completely measurable scores, or points.  These could translate into designations (such as “Green Belt in Time Management 2.0) that someone puts on their resume, as a sign that they are able to handle a certain number or kind of time demands.

With the right sensors measuring the right data, this is a possibility.  The only question is, who will turn it into a reality?