Why Are There So Few Studies of Time Demand Completion?

iStock_000004136298XSmallWhy have there been so few studies of what happens to time demands after we create them? In this post, I go hunting for some answers.

This week, I uncovered a great article written by Judith Ouellette and Wendy Wood. It’s entitled “Habit and intention in everyday life: The multiple processes by which past behavior predicts future behavior.”

Like many other academic articles, it has an inimidating title that seems obscure but the text is quite readable once the new terms it uses are understood. The most important, for the post, is what the authors refer to as a “conscious intention.” For all intents and purposes, it’s the same as a time demand.

Their article confirms one of the ideas I include in my book: that our daily actions can be divided into two types.
Type 1) Habits we perform with a level of automaticity that requires little energy.
Type 2) Conscious intentions that require explicit thought (i.e. time demands.)

In a follow-up diary study  led by Dr. Wood, approximately 33-50% of all daily behaviors are habits. The rest are conscious intentions.

I did a quick search to see how many articles mentioned the original paper and the number came to over 1600 since it was published in 1998. By academic standards, it’s quite popular.

However, it’s interesting to see that very little research has been conducted on conscious intentions, while there has been a great deal of research on habits. That strikes me as odd.

It appears that the average working professional cares more about conscious intentions than habits. By their very nature, habits take care of themselves without much explicit effort. For example, we brush our teeth without thinking about it, day and day out. What we care about are the tasks we must complete each day and the amount of time we have to do them in. We are concerned about these conscious intentions because they are a primary and essential step we take to fulfil every single one of our goals.

This concern may be translated into a question that uses the language of the paper: “How can I effectively convert a high percentage of conscious intentions into positive actions?”

In answering this question, academics seem to have dropped the ball. My research shows that when it comes to conscious intentions, they seem to be more interested in peripheral questions such as “What are the factors that go into creating conscious intentions?”, “Why do people form the goals they do?” and “What are the obstacles people face in fulfilling their goals?”

These questions are important, but there are more basic questions that are not being researched, such as: “How do people process conscious intentions? How do they navigate time limits and due dates?” These are questions that are closer to our concern for converting intentions into action.

Why aren’t these questions being asked and answered by researcher?

1. Academics aren’t learning from other fields

A light reading of recent research in fields such as quantum physics and philosophy reveal that there is a growing concern that without human involvement, there is no such thing as time. When the existence of time itself is being questioned, it’s a bit strange to continue exploring “time management” or (even worse) “time control.” Yet, that’s what researchers in the field of time-based productivity have done for years (including yours truly.) Without adequate input of knowledge of other fields, a discussion about “time management” (if taken literally) is actually a bit of a fool’s errand.

2. Academic funding is skewed

The academy’s preoccupation with habits and behaviors isn’t echoed by the public, who only think about changing habits or behaviors now and then – hardly as often as they think about conscious intentions and time limits.

This vast difference of interests has meant that little academic research has made its way to the adult learner, who picks up a book, listens to a webinar and sits in a classroom in order to learn how to navigate an unyielding increase in conscious intentions. The majority of time-based productivity learning makes no reference or use of recent academic research. Most of the content used is based on the experience of one person, plus those who follow his/her advice. This falls far short of research standards: it’s all “anecdata” a term for stories taken as fact mentioned on the Harvard Business Review blog.

The reason for this mismatch between the academy and daily reality may be that there is a lot of funding flowing to habit research due to the high cost of destructive practices like smoking and drug addiction. Getting rid of bad habits actually saves lives, so a breakthrough in this area has high stakes, which attracts society’s attention. Boosting one’s time-based productivity isn’t as fraught with health risks.

3. Academics Aren’t Skilled Enough (as Individuals)

Another possible explanation is that academics who study time management (mostly psychologists), are simply not equipped to answer the common questions people have. As I show in Perfect Time-Based Productivity, in the moments after a conscious intention/time demand is created, humans follow a defined process, without exception. Although these processes are similar in design, they are also idiosyncratic and unique.

The uniqueness derives from the fact that these processes are self-created. Their effectiveness varies widely between individuals in ways that are barely understood at this time – the research that should give us basic answers just isn’t being performed.

The skills these researchers are lacking do exist, but they are to be found in management or engineering schools in fields such as simulation, Business Process Management (BPM) or Total Quality Management (TQM). They all study the flow of tangible objects in processes and systems – but they don’t routinely study psychological objects like time demands. As far as I can tell, psychologists aren’t taking these classes to learn these skills which are essential to analyzing the flow of time demands in human affairs. By the same token, engineers aren’t flocking to Psych 101 so that they can learn how to model ways in which psychological objects are processed.

Only a multiskilled approach would work. Unfortunately, these are the studies that are the toughest to perform well,  often posing huge obstacles to graduate students who must pick a field of study. This is just not the shortest or simplest path to take.

Hopefully, this state of affairs will change and we aren’t completely stuck. The stresses on professionals around the world are increasing, and we need to do more to help them attain the level of productivity they desire.

Here’s a Researcher Who Spent a Year Tackling One Productivity Technique Per Week

ne new techniqueThe ultimate Lifehacker is not someone who scours the Internet looking to find random tips, tricks and shortcuts. Instead, we should all take a leaf out of Melanie Wilson’s blog, in which she conducted a year-long experiment in 2013, tackling and implementing one new improvement technique each week.

Her approach was simple. Each week she singled out a popular or well-defined productivity hacks and tried to make it work, faithfully reporting the results back to her readers. By the end of the year, she’d tackled 46 consecutive hacks, ending the year with a multi-week experiment: writing a nonfiction book in 21 days.

The list of hacks she tested read like a who’s who of guru-driven advice ranging from David Allen’s Getting Things Done, to Mark Forster’s Do It Tomorrow to a number of others that you probably have never heard of, such as “David Seah’s Emergent Task Planner,” “The Time Warrior” and “Gamification.” While she does have affiliate links set up with a few of the products she’s testing, she’s hardly advertising.

Instead, she breaks each post into the same four sections, as she did in week 2 when she assessed the “Covey’s Quadrants” technique. In that week the first three sections were captioned:
– How Covey’s Quadrants Saved My Sanity This Week
– How The 12 Week Year Made Me Crazy This Week
– Did Covey’s Quadrants Help Me Get Things Done?
In the fourth and final section she moved onto the next hack she planned to assess:

– The Productivity Approach I’ll Be Using for Week 3.

Here, she invited readers to join her in trying out the technique reviewed the following week. Her followers do make the occasional comment, but this is primarily a one-woman experiment, all based on her first-hand experience.

On a recent podcast in which I interviewed Melanie, I made the comment that it’s like watching a reality show, in which she unfolds a brand new episode each week. As I followed the course of events from one week to the next, I found myself with a nervous feeling of anticipation. Would she find the perfect technique that meets all her needs? Would she get to the end of the year and conclude that Lifehacking is just a self-indulgent waste of adult time? Was she going to refute everything I knew to be true from my own experience, invalidating a lifetime of personal lifehacking?

This is the power of doing real-life testing… on a real life. You’ll probably find yourself, like I did, flipping to the techniques you have known and and tried, wondering if her experiences matches up with your opinions. As she surprises you with some of her findings, you’ll find that it’s hard to argue with each post. Why? Because it’s factual. Like a good researcher, she doesn’t make leaps in logic, telling the reader that they need to follow the systems that she uses, or doesn’t use. She never concludes that her experience is one everyone should share – she sticks to the format you’d expect of someone who works in a lab every day wearing a white coat. Like Sgt. Joe Friday she’s just following the data.

This sets her blog apart from so many self-improvement, time management and productivity posts making their way around the Internet. Many of them consist of no more than untried, untested and un-researched opinions in which authors don’t bother to provide any evidence for their suggestions. They just repeat the stuff once read in a book or blog, without offering any new perspectives, content or information. After they are done, others reply with their opinions, leading to a round of lightweight dialog or heated disagreement, after which everyone gets tired and goes home, none the better.

The lifehacking community needs more people to do what she’s doing – basing their advice and conclusions on empirical data. Whether the data comes from the researcher herself, or from other trusted fieldworkers, we need to be informed by more than the amateur blogger who wakes up in the morning with rehashed and random ideas for improvement.

This would take us out of the rut we’re in at the moment in time-based productivity – where the over-abundance of Top Ten Lists are choking a readership that’s becoming tired of seeing the same old tips repeatedly recycled. Her blog is a sparkling example of what can be done with some hard legwork, which is where all breakthrough thinking originates. I hope she helps take Lifehacking back to a time when it was about sharing stuff that works based on factual experience, rather than empty suggestions designed to do little more than generate SEO traffic, Likes and Re-tweets.

Visit her blog, Psychowith6 and listen to her interview after you have viewed some of her posts from the past year. Prepare to be engaged by the vitality of a real-life, first-hand experience.

CEO’s and College Students – Do They Manage Their Time in Similar Ways?

It’s an intriguing thought. Are there similarities in the ways that CEO’s and college students manage their time?

It’s a topic that I’m giving some attention to due to some research that I uncovered while reading an article about the ways that law students manage their time.

My first effort to delve into this topic came in the form of a recent article I wrote for the Jamaica Gleaner – How to Manage Your Time Like a CEO.

Research that Challenges “One-Size-Fits-All” Time Management

claessensIt’s an assumption made by many time management books and programs – the behaviors described not only work, but they work for everyone. They might make a passing reference to the need to do a little customization here and there but it’s hardly a central thesis of the book. The author’s message remains: “Just follow what I do as closely as you can.”

A more challenging idea that few dare to confront is that we all need custom systems.

Recent research conducted in 2004 by Brigitte Claessens – Perceived Control of Time: Time Management and Personal Effectiveness at Work – backs this up. Here are a few of the findings summarized.

1.  The Skill and Training Effect

The report states: “…more conscientious and emotionally stable people completed more of their planned work than others. Also, those who participated in a time management training program prior to this study completed more of their planned work than others.” This finding showed that there are individual differences in performances, driven in part by current levels of exposure to training.

2. Differences in Starting the Day

41% started their day by reviewing their plan for the day, before checking email. 35% skipped the plan and jumped straight into email. 24% made social contacts and engaged in communal activity such as drinking coffee and having a snack.

Furthermore, 59% preferred to work on large, difficult tasks first. 24% had no routine for working on tasks and 18% preferred to work on small, enjoyable tasks first. Another 18% worked on items that were important to other people.

A book or program that attempts to either ignore these differences, or force all learners to follow a single prescription is likely to fail.

3. Individual Differences are Important

There were four distinct planning and execution styled detected in the research. Almost all the respondents indicated that they “felt their style suited their own preferred way of working.” One reported that “The work style I employ wouldn’t work for anyone else, because we are all so different.”

They indicated that the differences were based on personality, experiences at work and also that one’s style style “develops and changes over time.” 76% were satisfied with their style, but shared that for some tasks on particular projects, either more or less structured styles were needed, “which they found hard to do.”

Also, those who were satisfied would NOT recommend their style to colleagues, believing that “it wouldn’t be possible due to the individual differences.”

4. Focusing on Priorities Can Make Things Worse

The researchers tested the effect of a focus on priorities on both a) feelings of control over one’s time and b) one’s belief in his/her capability to handle their work under certain situations. There was no effect on the former and a negative effect on the latter. Also, focusing on priorities can increase what the authors called “work strain.” The authors surmise “<it is>…because one has to continually assess the importance of the tasks that come along and as a consequence may find it difficult to decide on the priority order of activities.”

5. Developing a Timetable of Activities Helps

“Anchored planning” is defined as “the detailtedness (sic) of planning goals, activities, and time frames.”

Having a timetable was positively related to a) feelings of control over one’s time and b) one’s belief in his/her capability to handle their work under certain situations. Also continually monitoring progress against this timetable was positively related to b) one’s belief in his/her capability to handle their work. Having contingency plans was positively related to a) one’s feelings of control over one’s time.

The finding around anchored planning support other research results summarized on the 2Time Labs website, conducted by Dezhi Wu and also Masicampo and Blaumeister. That is, “planning into (sic) some detail increases the perception of control over time and the perceived ability to perform one’s work.” This supports the emerging view that maintaining and monitoring an individual, detailed calendar of activities is a superior time management technique  to others that exist (such as trying to use one’s memory or keeping multiple lists.)

6. What You Think About Your Abilities is Important

  • Your a) feelings of control over your time is a greater contributor to well-being variables such as job satisfaction and also external ratings of your effectiveness, than b) your belief in your capability to handle your work under certain situations.
  • Your b) belief in your capability to handle your work under certain situations is a predictor of self-ratings of job performance.
  • Both self-evaluated and externally-evaluated effectiveness is affected by your a) feelings of control over your time and not by b) your belief in your capability to handle your work under certain situations
  • Your b) belief in your capability to handle your work under certain situations is negatively related to external ratings of effectiveness

The final result implies that you can trick yourself into thinking you are much better than others think you are in your time management skills.

Furthermore, a) your feelings of control over your time AND b) your belief in your capability to handle your work under certain situations has a more direct effect on your performance than actual behaviors.

 7. Individual Differences are Critical When Teaching Time Management

The authors say it well: “Although we expect most people to profit from time management behaviors, our and other studies demonstrated that there are individual differences in planning and executing behaviors. Therefore, we argue that time management training programs should be developed to serve different kinds of people. This could be done by means of a ‘diagnostic’ or screening tool, for instance in the form of a diary study, prior to the actual time management training after which people with the same kinds of problems with time (for instance personal planning problems) could be invited to participate in custom-made programs. Currently, most time management training programs ask participants prior to the actual training program to note and evaluate their time spending, but they do not use this information to select respondents for a particular type of time management training. As a result, participants may receive a training in all elements of time management behaviors, including those in which they were already competent. This can reduce the learning effect as relatively little time is used to discuss their particular problems and to teach them the behaviors that might be beneficial to their particular situation.”

The research we have done here at 2Time Labs into adult learning principles (andragogy) also makes this clear. Our teaching experience backs this up.

8. Making Good Time Choices Can Reduce Burnout

The authors state: “…we found a direct effect of task assessment behavior on work strain which implies that by carefully assessing assigned tasks not only with respect to the time available but also to one’s capabilities, and by accepting the tasks that one feels able to perform within these boundaries, one feels less pressured at work.”

In Summary

I recommend this piece of research heartily and am only saddened that there are fewer people who appear to be using it. The work I do to link these ideas with you, an interested reader, is apparently unique as few of the authors, bloggers and class developers that I follow actually check out the source of their ideas. The authors echo this sentiment – “… we argue that time management trainers take notice of and implement results of scientific time management studies in time management training programs to ensure that participants are made familiar with behaviors that have been identified as beneficial to job performance and personal well-being.”

Being unique has some advantages, but I also wonder who is reading this kind of article. If you have made it this far, then I’d like to know. Please leave me a comment to let me know that yes, you do exist… and whether to not you’d like to hear more summaries of time management research here on this website.




New Research: The Benefit of Developing Advanced Scheduling Skills

New research emerges showing that keeping a specific schedule of what you plan to do each day in the future is better than other options.

The Problem:

For some time here at 2Time Labs I have highlighted the general problem of time management books that neither cite relevant research nor update their recommendations based on the latest research. Many claim, even indirectly, to be “the final word” on the topic, refusing or ignoring the idea that something better will come along someday.

Such hubris harms learners who need to continually adapt their individual time management systems to life’s changing circumstances and technologies. Getting stuck on the skills described in any book or program isn’t really an option in today’s fast-changing world. Learners need an evergreen approach to building their skills – relentlessly absorbing the latest ideas, newest findings and best equipment, while discarding stale notions, obsolete tools and useless apps.


Despite the best intentions of some authors and program creators, this need stubbornly persists even as they do their best to build higher walls and deeper moats to prevent their followers from escaping.

One question that typifies the tussle between guru-driven recommendations and new research is the question of whether or not a learner should center one’s daily activities around a list or a schedule. There are two distinct schools of thought.

The more traditional, older school argues that tasks belong on lists. A calendar should only be used to record “hard” appointments that involve other people, or deadlines with “major” consequences. As you may notice, this guideline is inexact, and most authors leave the definition of “hard” and “major” to the learner. Major proponents of this point of view include David Allen and Michael Linenberger.

The younger school argues that tasks belong on schedules, and lists should only be used to supplement a calendar. Once again, the guideline is inexact, with the choice being left to the learner. Major proponents of this point of view include Peter Bregman and Daniel Markovitz.

The two schools clash from time to time, with the most dogmatic claiming that success can only come through their virtuous point of view, implying that failure comes through the evil alternative.

Our Both/And Hypothesis
At 2Time Labs we believe that both approaches have merit. Some learners prefer lists and others prefer schedules. Beyond the issue of personal preference, we believe that each person needs to understand the options, and make a conscious choice about the one they plan to follow, and for how long.

For some time, however, we have also argued that Schedule’rs are able to manage a much larger number of tasks. These scheduling skills are harder to learn, and rely more on the newest technology, making the learning curve steeper. But they ultimately bring a significant benefit.

We therefore support both approaches, and focus instead on helping learners make informed choices.

The New Research
In the face of this debate emerges a new study: Consider It Done! Plan Making Can Eliminate the Cognitive Effects of Unfulfilled Goals by E.J. Masicampo and Roy F. Baumeister from Florida State University. They not only shed critical light on the argument between List’ers and Schedule’rs, but they also offer a bit of evidence that our Both/And hypothesis at 2Time Labs may be supported by some independent evidence.

Research Goals
The researchers started out with the following notion: “Unfulfilled goals persist in the mind… The standard assumption has been that such cognitive activation persists until the goal is fulfilled. However, we predicted that contributing to goal pursuit through plan making could satisfy the cognitive processes that usually promote goal pursuit.”

Their results were clear:
“Committing to a specific plan for a goal may therefore not only facilitate attainment of the goal but may also free cognitive resources for other pursuits. Once a plan is made, the drive to attain a goal is suspended-allowing goal-related cognitive activity to cease-and is resumed at the specified later time.”

In summary, creating a specific plan is superior to having no plan at all.

Some would argue that this isn’t enough to support either side, thinking that a list is a kind of plan. Their specific experiments clarify any confusion.

“In several studies, we activated unfulfilled goals and examined the extent to which these goals persisted in the mind, remaining active in memory and intruding upon subsequent tasks.”

“Our emphasis was on highly specific plans of action… we asked participants to commit to plans that specified how, when and where they would attain their goals.” They add “A specific plan is like a script that a person can follow mindlessly to completion.”

In other words, what they mean by plan-making is what we call “creating a Schedule” and not what we refer to as “compiling a List.” In their purest forms, schedules, and not lists, are used by learners to define when something needs to be done.

In particular, one study performed by the researchers (5B) focused on these differences as they were tested in three groups.

Group 1 – Participants in the unfulfilled task condition (group) reflected on one task they had to complete in the coming days. Those participants then listed multiple possible courses of action for completing the task, but they did not commit to using any one of them.

Group 2 – Participants in the plan condition (group), in contrast, reflected on a task they had to complete in the coming days and made a specific plan for how they would complete it.

Group 3 – Participants in the control condition (group) reflected on one task they had recently completed.

Their findings were:
“…participants in the plan group (Group 2) reported significantly fewer task-related thoughts than did participants in the unfulfilled task group (Group 1). (The study) replicated the elimination of intrusive thoughts about an unfulfilled task after a specific plan was made.”

In Conclusion they state:
“… the activation and interference effects abruptly ceased among the participants who formed plans for their unfulfilled goals.”

“Unfulfilled tasks made people’s mind wander… But participants who made a plan to get their personal tasks done were able to <perform> with less mind wandering.”

“It has been well documented that specific plans increase success, doing so in part by making goal pursuit more automatic. Once a detailed plan has been made, one no longer has to think about the goal to execute it. Apparently, a plan reduces the amount of thoughts and attention that are typically recruited in service of an unfulfilled goal. Thoughts of an incomplete goal will not interfere with current concerns so long as a plan has been made to see the goal through later on.”

It’s not hard to summarize that having a Schedule leads to a number of positive effects that having a list simply doesn’t produce. In these experiments, makers of a schedule were more productive than those who didn’t make schedules.

Support for the Both/And Hypothesis
In the Implications section of the paper the authors state:
“In most cases, the unconscious achieves self-organization quite well, including in the realm of goal pursuit. (This paper) however, suggests that interrupted goals represent a special case that exceeds the self-organizing capacity of the unconscious. Only when a conscious plan is made does an unfulfilled goal seem to settle into a stable state. Until then, the disturbance from unfulfilled goals seems to persist in the mind, intruding into one’s thoughts and interfering with other tasks.”

In other words, there is a tipping point. When there are too many tasks, the unconscious mind needs a conscious plan or else there is a decline in productivity. As I implied before, their “conscious plan” is what we call a “schedule.”

The Bottom Line
From my perspective here at 2Time Labs there needn’t be two separate camps, as I implied in our Both/And Hypothesis. The problem has been created by authors who go too far and claim that their approach is not only useful, but uniquely correct. In their zeal, they over-reach and state general conclusions that are unfounded in fact, and based on little more than individual experience and/or conjecture. When they make such statements their followers are lured into thinking that their way is the only true way, leading to a fundamentalist mindset that blocks open learning.

In my book, Bill’s Im-Perfect Time Management Adventure I created a character, Vernon Vaz, who is taken over by this mindset and the trouble it causes. The tension between Vernon and Bill is one that is taking place in workplaces around the world and the lack of research in time management keeps it going for far longer than it should.

Thankfully, there is research such as “Consider It Done” that sheds the kind of light that brings data to dogma, and can help us all get past the tension and towards solutions.

P.S. I did a series of posts and videos on the results of Dr. Dezhi Wu’s research that also indicated the value of individual schedule building.



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.








Why a Big Gap Exists in Time Management Knowledge

industrial engineersOne of the challenges involved in gaining a deeper understanding of time management mechanics is that it’s all about using physical actions to manipulate invisible objects.

Industrial engineering, which is the study of the optimization of scarce resources in a production environment is typically concerned with the events taking place on a factory floor where physical objects are manufactured. These objects can be touched, observed, measured and tracked by anyone with the right measuring device and an ability to count.

The traditional production environment, such as the one used to manufacture cars, is marked by a high volume of “widgets” and a number of processes that act on them. In the process, a transformation occurs from a starting state (raw materials) to a preferred end-state. In the example of automobile factories, steel, rubber, glass, plastic and other stuff is heated, pressed, pulled, cooled, sliced and diced and all stuck together in some way until a car comes out at the end. (One of the first factories I ever stepped into was a General Motors axle assembly plant, which was an amazing spectacle to observe.)

In the world of time management something similar takes place that’s also quite different.

A time demand is created by the individual’s mind, perhaps triggered by the external world. There it remains until it’s either captured in some way on paper or digital media, before being acted upon by the 7 Essential Fundamentals. At the end of the process, after the Fundamentals have been used and the action is completed, the time demand disappears and no longer has any effect.

This movement of time demands is fairly easy to simulate or model using queuing theory and discrete simulation, which are two of the tools we leaned on heavily in my training as an Operations Research /Industrial Engineer. However, I can’t find any place where either tools has been applied to time demands. I have dabbled a bit, but there remains a great deal of empirical work to be done to even begin to understand the nature of time demand management.

Unfortunately, it would be pretty difficult to do a PhD that crosses both engineering and psychological disciplines. This might be part of the reason why so little research is done in this area, even though the work done in either discipline related to time management appears to my untrained eye to be limited in scope. It takes an appreciation of both disciplines, plus an understanding of the term “time demand” to bring the two together.




A New Look at Time Management 2.0 Research

I recently became dissatisfied at the way I have depicted the research underlying Time Management 2.0. I couldn’t shake this feeling that I could do a better job of sharing which assumptions and findings were being used from different fields, and how they were being combined.

As a result of making some notes, and playing around with Prezi, I came up with a much better description that is described in the presentation below as a series of major and minor hypotheses. I don’t know how many of these hypotheses have been conclusively proven with empirical research in time management, but there is lots of evidence in other fields that supports each one. That’s based on a cursory glance, and my memory, however.

If hypothesis testing isn’t your bag, then there’s no need to worry – just watch the presentation and don’t lose any sleep. I am hoping that those who do care about these things will watch the presentation and offer supporting or contradictory research – I’m open to both. Maybe it will even inspire the odd graduate student to complete a PhD in this area – that would be wonderful!

This presentation is best watched on full screen, and you’ll need to use to right and left arrows to move back and forth.

A Top Site for Effective Project Management


Recently I was informed that the home of 2Time Labs was listed as one of the top 100 sites for Effective Project Managers.

It lines up well with some secondary research that we’re doing into the “last mile” of project management.

When I worked at AT&T Bell Labs in the late ’80s-early ’90’s, one of the challenges the company faced was that it was only allowed to connect with customers via the Local Exchange Companies such as NYTEL or Southern Bell. AT&T Employees often complained that these other companies owned “the last mile” and limited what could be offered to the customer in terms of new services.

Well, there’s a “last mile” in project management but it has nothing to do with distance. Instead, it has to do with project failure when a project manager has done a lot of good, hard work that ends up being entirely undone by poor time management skills on the part of team members. In other words, the individuals can’t effectively handle the volume of new time demands that the project places on them.

The fate of the project is entirely out of the hands of the project manager at that point who dutifully hands out tasks to team members and promises to follow-up if he/she hears nothing by pre-determined critical dates.

What are some of the things that project managers can do? Should they do some kind of assessment before a project even starts? Should they try to improve time management skills in the middle of a project? If they ignore the problem, will it go away? What do they do differently when they have completed an assessment?

These issues are worth digging into because (in theory) the Time Management 2.0 approach offers Project Managers an efficient way to evaluate the skills of team members, and effect an improvement by taking small steps.

Whether it holds up in practice remains to be seen, and I’ll be asking this question in the upcoming months to get some definitive answers.

In my soon-to-be-released book there is a critical part of the story when the protagonist / Project Manager, Bill, must lead an ineffective team in terms of time management skills. Or else…

More on the book, and Bill to come, so please stay tuned.

Established – a Time Management Library

A few hours ago, I finished scanning the last front page of the time management articles I have collected over the years.

How many? Some 78 articles.

In one fell swoop I established the single best source of academic information on the topic. I can say this with some confidence simply because I have searched high and low, hard and long to find these articles. In some cases, they are out of print, and there are many I just gave up on ever finding.

Some are available at a price, exemplifying the fight that’s being waged between scientific publishers and the new availability of Internet articles that’s bypassing them entirely. “Dis-intermediation” they call it.

As I have mentioned in prior posts, in the course of pulling together the best research, I also have not found a single time management-focused department, journal, conference, school or online forum that’s truly open to more than a single approach.

It’s a sorry state, and as I mentioned at the ICD conference, it places us squarely in the Dark Ages.

So, I’m playing my part, I guess, and maybe a grad student here or there will benefit from having a one-stop source of journals and white papers. In that spirit, if I’m missing any research that’s useful, please let me know.

Here’s the link to the 2Time Labs Library that lists the time management papers I have found to be useful.