A Message for All GTDers

6mistakes-cover-2.jpgActually, this is a message to the users of all time management systems: there are some mistakes that people often make when they try to learn Getting Things Done (GTD®), Covey, and all other systems developed by another person.

It’s all detailed in my new report, The Six Surprising Mistakes that GTD®ers Make.

At first blush, you might think that I’m taking a swipe at those who use GTD®. That’s not my goal.

I did, however, make a bunch of mistakes when I tried to implement it a second time. Now, I have the benefit of some insight that tells me I’m not the only one who tries to make GTD® and other systems do what they cannot do — and get stuck as a result.

For more, download the report and have a read. It also comes in an audio format and has its own follow-up video series.

Click here to go to the download page at http://2time-sys.com/6mistakes


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Mission Control Productivity, FranklinCovey, GTD and Getting Things Done are registered trademarks of the David Allen Company (davidco.com.)  2Time is not affiliated with or endorsed by the David Allen Company, Mission Control Productivity or FranklinCovey.

Free Time Management Coaching

I just came across a time management site that I’ve never noticed before. It’s called Priacta.com

It offers free time management coaching via a toll-free number:

Free Coaching

Call Toll Free 1-888-PRIACTA (U.S. and Canada)

I think that this is quite remarkable and might be a good source of assistance. Of course, it also might be a sales gimmick that offers more of an opportunity to purchase a course from a commissioned salesperson, rather than anything useful.

I’d love to hear what anyone has to say about the site — can’t wait to try it myself. (I’m currently traveling in the Caribbean, and the number works only in the U.S. and Canada.)

Lifelong Learning — A Way to Think About Time Management

scale-feetonscale.jpgThere’s simply no way to create a great time management system from bits and pieces of tips dug up from here and there.

But that doesn’t stop us from trying, does it?

A quick search of Twitter for the phrase “time management” or the hashtag “#timemanagement” reveals how many people are looking for tips, shortcuts, and back doors.

We all want to be able to take a pill and wake up the following morning able to manage our time better.

Rather than looking for tips, we’d all be better off treating the issue as if it were a matter of lifelong learning rather than a miraculous flash in the pan.

In other words, it’s not as if people arrive at the perfect system at some point in their lives, and all they can do from that point on is hold onto it for dear life.

Instead, it’s more important for someone to treat their time management system as if it were something like they were their weight management system.

Trying to manage your weight at the age of 45 in the same way that you did at 25 is a recipe for disaster.

In the same way, trying to hold onto the same time management system, regardless of changes in the following aspects of your life, is just as crazy:

  • Retirement or working
  • Type of job
  • Commuting time (or working at home)
  • Number of kids
  • Technology availability
  • Marital status
  • Ability to remember

It’s a better idea to see time management skills as something that you must change over time — and continually redesign. One thing we do know is that a poor time management system can lead to regrets of all shapes and sizes, particularly as your life draws to a close.

The Pomodoro Over-Prescription

pomodoro.jpgAs I mentioned in a prior post, I was planning to review an e-book that describes the Pomodoro Technique.  A deeper read confirmed that the book is an interesting and well-written one, but it suffers from the challenge that all that books on time management face — that the readers are not the writer.

Before I explain what I mean by that, let me start by highlighting some of the strengths of the approach.

The foundation of the approach is actually a philosophical one, and looks to change the way time is perceived.  One of its goals is to convert time from an enemy to an ally.

I thought that this was pretty powerful way to start, even though I found what followed to be a bit hard to understand, and probably requiring an entire e-book of its own.

The e-book quite rightly zeros in on specific habits that, if implemented, would bring a tremendous amount of order to  the life of a professional who has a weak time management system.  It describes a pretty rigorous method for dealing with time demands, mostly using paper, and using a modified form of ToDo lists as a way to marshall all the activities to be done in the day.

It presents a clear process of planning, monitoring, measuring and improving, which seems to follow the Plan-Do-Check- Act cycle popularized by W.E. Deming, the quality guru.  At the end of each day, the user is encouraged to review the day and determine how well it was planned and executed.

This habit of continuous improvement would make Deming proud.

The name “Pomodoro” comes from the Italian word for tomato, and refers to 25 minute slots that the user is told are the essential building block for each day. Tasks should be started, and scheduled to be completed with 1, 2, 3 or more Pomodoro’s … but never 3.5 or 5.2 — fractional time-slots are forbidden.

This technique is a sound one, as it keeps the user’s focus on the activity at hand, and the fact that a certain amount of time has been budgeted for the activity. Once the 25 minutes are up, the user is taught to take a 5 minute break, before starting a new Pomodoro, which make involve a new task, or the continuation of an old task.

All this activity is tracked on paper, which means that there is a fair amount of recording happening at all times, but it also means that some high quality physical habits are continously being developed.

As time management systems go, it’s not a bad one, from my point of voew, and would take a user to a Yellow Belt, according to the 2Time method of evaluation.  That’s because, it doesn’t allow for scheduling time in the day, but instead requires the user to make a prioritized list, and simply start working on the item with the highest priority first.

This is all good for a day that has a low number of simple time demands.  It would fail where allToDo list based systems fail — when there are too many items to be viewed on a single list, and when multipe tasks are needed to accomplish a complex objective, for example.

But it IS better than the time management systems that most people invent on their own, without any assistance or understanding of what they are doing.

The major issue I have with the Pomodoro technique is that it probably works best for one person – Francesco Cirillo, its creator.  Essentially, he has shared a time management system that he uses, but makes no allowance for the fact that his sauce for the goose might not be sauce for the gander.

In other words, there are probably not too many people that can pick up his system wholesale and implement it, as is.  The vast majority would have to make modifications to fit their own habit patterns,  idiosyncracies and preferences.

For example, I have started trying out a program called  BubbleTimer, which allows me to track how my time is being used. It would replace one of the sheets in the Pomodoro technique, and as far as  I can tell, it would do the same thing more elegantly.

However, if I were a Pomodoro user, I’d be on my own in making this innovation.  This is true because the author hasn’t tried to do anything more than describe the details of the system as implemented, instead of the principles behind each of its elements.

That’s a little like saying “use only white sugar from Domino’s in this recipe because that’s what works.”

Here in Jamaica, Domino’s is not sold.

Instead, we have other brands of white sugar, brown sugar, molasses, honey, Sweet n Lo and other substitutes.  To determine whether or not they are acceptable, I’d need to know something about the chef’s reason for using “Domino’s white sugar.”

When the reason, or principle, behind the choice isn’t shared, I am left on my own either having  to take a guess, or abandon the recipe.

Is BubbleTimer a suitable substitute to the specific forms the author recommends?

I can only guess.  Or abandon the recipe.

In this sense, the Pomodoro technique over-reaches, and over-prescribes the particular elements of the overall solution that the author uses.

It’s a good approach, but to make it Time Management 2.0-ready, we’d have to be able to understand what principles it’s based on, so that when we want to make our own time management systems to fit our lives, we are able to use the sound principles underlying this approach, and all others that work for their creators.

Unfortunately, the readers are not the writer, but I sense that there is something behind the technique that could be useful to all.

The Pomodoro Technique

I just came across an interesting technique for time management, which takes its name from the Italian word for “tomato.”

I briefly glanced through the pdf and decided to post it online to encourage others to read it and provide feedback here.  In the next week or so, I’ll also read it, and post up a follow-up article.

The45 page pdf can be downloaded at the following link:  The Pomodoro Technique