A Survey Question Coming Soon

hypothesis-test.gifI am planning to ask some questions in an upcoming time management survey, about whether or not users have an issue with learning new habits.

I recently read a shocking statistic — some 90% of Americans don’t get past the first chapter of the average book that they purchase.

Clearly, they don’t have in place the habits that they need to complete the book, and I imagine that the reason given has little to do with “interest in the book” and everything to do with “finding the time.”

In other words, they don’t have the habits, or the ability to create the habits, that support the completion of a book they wish they could finish.

I imagine that the same thing happens when someone attends a  2 day training program, hears a one hour webinar or downloads an ebook on time management tips.  They hear some good ideas that they come to believe are wortwhile, and then fail to implement them in their lives.

That’s not to disregard the handful who can create new habits at will.  They can learn a new practice and put it into place immediately.

The vast majority, however, have a great challenge.

They grasp the new ideas very quickly, and tell themselves to implement them, but simply fail.

One question I hope to ask is why they failed.

As a part of MyTimeDesign 2.0, I hope to use the internet to provide the kind of reinforcement that will improve the odds that a user will succeed in putting in place the habits they want, and continue them over time.

Some of the strategies I have used in MyTimeDesign 1.0 and in the live NewHabits programs do include these kinds of supports over a 2-3 month period, but I am now thinking that that might just not be enough.

I am starting to believe that a time management program that sets 4 hours apart for just assisting participants to teach themselves new habits would increase the implementation of new habits dramatically.

Hopefully, the survey will help to clarify this particular hypothesis.

Time Management Statistics

gm-050424_ec_gm_profit_margins.gifI found this interesting page on time management statistics at the website for Key Organization Systems.

It describes some empirical research results that are interesting such as the following:

43% of Americans categorize themselves as disorganized, and 21% have missed vital work deadlines. Nearly half say disorganization causes them to work late at least 2 or times each week.

Click here to be taken to the link for time management statistics.


Hurricanes and Time Management in Jamaica

gustav.jpgI am sitting here in Kingston where Tropical Storm Gustav has wreaked havoc on our island, disrupting life as we know it with a day and a half of torrential rainfall.

What’s remarkable is that  when we went to bed on Wednesday night, the storm seemed to be heading away from the island, crossing the eastern section of Haiti on its way to Cuba.  The projections had it merely brushing the north coast of Jamaica with its outer bands giving us some rainfall, but not much… so they said.

When we woke up on Thursday morning the map showed that Gustav had made a U-turn, and come back South, before heading WestNorthWest once again, putting Jamaica squarely in its tracks.  Overnight, the prediction had changed from 4 inches of rain to 30 inches.

Thursday morning was a bright and sunny day,  and we experienced the proverbial calm before the storm.  Now it’s Friday night, and Gustav has left the island, but not before killing, harming, robbing, scaring, wetting, destroying and flooding.

It’s not how I thought  the last two days would go.  It’s not what I had planned in my calendar.  During the storm, lights came and went, as did television service and internet access.  Businesses closed early, and the island came to a halt.

I have remarked in this blog that my return to live in Jamaica led me to decide that the time management methods I had learned from living for 20 years in New York, New Jersey and Florida simply didn’t work when I came back.  The hectic nature of life here, and the exposure to powerful elements — sun, wind and rain –introduce a kind of chaos and unpredictability that  my system (and my head) could not handle.

I remember  leading a time management course many years ago in which it was important to have the discipline to follow one’s schedule for the day, regardless of the circumstances. Now, I laugh, epecially at times like this.  Life here in the Caribbean just doesn’t work like that.

Instead, I have learned to make schedules that are more a matter of an intention, and an indication of what I would like to get done each day.   It’s a way to give myself peace of mind, knowing that I have put down on paper a working model of the day that may or may not be executed according to plan.

Obviously, the schedules I had set for Thursday and Friday became moot… a bit of a joke really, as the 85 mph winds brought water leaking from the roof the windows and the sliding doors into the hallway and bathrooms.

The gift in all this chaos is this blog, and the 2Time Mgt system.   Twop years ago when I realized that the methods I was using were simply too rigid, I went looking for new ones, but quickly noticed that there was almost no assistance I could find in building “a time management system for the tropics.”

Instead, all I found were books and seminars with the same message:  “Here is what I do… follow me!”  I noticed that none of the creators came from these parts… and wrote their systems with an implict assumption that their readers led lives that were much like theirs.

But the more I looked, the more I realized that there was no help for anyone who wanted to create a customtime management system that would fit the unique circumstances at home or on the job that we all face.  It was time consuming and risky to do what we were all doing — cherry-picking from different approaches to create something that would work better than the “follow me” systems.  What we ALL need is a way to guide us in creating and managing the systems that we end up creating.  Something like a “How to Manual” for designing time management systems.

After all, I reasoned, the guys who put together hot rods have manuals to make sure that their creations don’t fall apart at 60mph… working professionals need the very same kind of assistance.

I stumbled around and re-discovered some old engineering techniques I had  learned in college and “discovered” 2Time — a way for me to create a time management system for myself here in Jamaica that covered all the basic components — the fundamentals.

I reasoned that a good all-around gymnast must be good at the fundamentals on each apparatus in order to win a medal.  Those professionals who are better at time management might also be more skilled at the fundamentals than those who aren’t.  It isn’t that they are using the right “follow me” system, although that might help.  Instead, by luck, or by hook or by crook, they end up practicing the fundamentals until they became habits.

Good habits yield skillful time management, whether the user is in Ithaca or Kingston, and whether or not there are snow-storms or tropical storms that are disrupting the day’s best laid plans.

Who is studying time management?

I have been looking but can’t find anyone in academia who is studying time management. I have a theory as to why that is, in two parts.

Firstly, I think that time management, as a personal practice, does not neatly fit into any single discipline. Is it Industrial Engineering? Operations Research? Management Science? Psychology? Sociology? Business?

Because it does belong to any single area of study, it therefore belongs to none. Continue reading “Who is studying time management?”

Measuring Success in 2Time

In the HBR article, “The Making of an Expert”, referred to in my last post, the author makes the case that “real expertise must pass three tests“, and I think that these three tests must also be applied to the 2Time system in a variety of ways.

“First, it must lead to performance that is consistently superior to that of the expert’s peers. Second, real expertise produces concrete results. Brain surgeons, for example, not only must be skillful with their scalpels but must also have successful outcomes with their patients. A chess player must be able to win matches at tournaments. Finally, true expertise can be replicated and measured in the lab.”

This has made me wonder. What are the measurable outcomes that expertise in time management should produce? Continue reading “Measuring Success in 2Time”

So little research

Why is there so very little research in personal productivity?

In designing the 2Time Management system, I have found that there is a severe lack of scholarship with respect to time management.

I can only think that this is because there is not a single, united field that clearly applies to the problem of managing time. What school or college should a graduate student apply to in order to pursue studies in this field? Continue reading “So little research”