The New York Times Gets It Wrong, but a Little Right

An article in the New York Times entitled 5 Easy Steps to Staunch the Email Flood seems to fall into the trap that most time management tinkers fall into.

An author shares a system of habits that works for them and essentially tells everyone else to “follow me” based on the evidence of a single success.  It then follows with suggestions that, honestly, fly in the face of accepted best practice such as “don’t treat your Inbox like a To-Do list” which the article heartily recommends.  (This approach works only under certain conditions, according to the research done here at 2Time Labs.)

The article does get one thing right, however, when it’s author, Sam Grobart states:

But the problem with a lot of organizational systems is that they replace one anxiety (“My stuff’s not organized”) with another (“My stuff’s not organized according to this specific system”).

Not to get too Zen here, but maybe the best system is no system. Or, put another way, the best system requires the least behavior modification. A few small habits may have to be adopted, but nothing as rigorous as GTD.

He’s a bit right here, and the point made about replacing one anxiety with another is well taken and related to his second comment. I would reword the sentiment.  The best upgrade requires the least behavior modification.

The problem with GTD® and every other static system is that they don’t attempt to meet the user where he/she currently is.  Most people find themselves:

1) in habit patterns that are far from ideal that they have practiced for many years

2) without a clue, let alone a plan, for how to bridge the gap to a new ideal set of habits

3) lacking any experience in changing complex systems of habits and therefore under-estimate what’s needed to make new habits stick

The result is frequent failure, and it sounds as if the author counts himself in that number.  But the answer is not to come up with a new set of guru-drive prescriptive behaviors, even if they do seem easier. Instead, it’s better to question the game, and then change it entirely.

What users desperately need is help to figure out what small behavior changes to make first, second and third.  And, they must figure it out for themselves as one-size certainly does not fit all when it comes to time management.

The good news is that MyTimeDesign 1.0.Free is about to re-open for registration and you can see exactly what I mean when I imply that the game can be changed.  Stay tuned., and in the meantime, if you are new to this website, see the About tab above for an overview of  Time Management 2.0.

Someone Struggling with Zero Inbox

This is an interesting post from the third day of someone’s attempt to maintain a Zero Inbox.

It’s quite a diligent effort, and I admire his use of tracking statistics to get some insights into what’s going on with all the email messages received in a day.  It’s interesting that so few replies are generated, and so many are simply deleted.

I keep wishing that someone will create software to track these kinds of statistics, perhaps via add-ons in Outlook or Gmail.  They’d surely give us more information on our habit patterns than we have now.

The article is entitled: “Day 3 Inbox Zero”

Exciting New Software

I just came across something I have dreamed about for some time – a game for email!

In prior posts, I talked about game mechanics, and how the entire 2Time approach could be seen as a game of sorts of improving one’s skill from White to Black Belt over time.  I have also studied some of the work of Amy JoKim, and reviewed her presentation “Putting the Fun into Functional” at least once per year, wondering how her cool ideas could be used to help us manage time better.

Then I came across Baydin Inc, and their cool new app, in the form of The Email Game.  At the moment, I have tested the Gmail version, which I think is the only one available… and it works wonders.

It prompts the user with an amusing count-down clock to drive towards a Zero Inbox, flashing up an encouraging graphic after each action.  Once you have finished dispensing with each email, it gives you some statistics and a score for dealing with your email.

It’s the very first game that I have found that gives immediate feedback on how well the user is keeping their Inbox empty.  This is a big leap forward folks, and thanks to the guys at Baydin (a small startup) for their insight and contribution.

Let’s hope they don’t stop!