As Weak as Your Weakest Link

chain.jpgOne of the joking complaints I receive in my NewHabits workshops has to do with my decision to grant belts only when users have shown themselves to be proficient across the board at that level.

In other words, no Yellow Belt is awarded to an individual until each of the fundamental disciplines is at a Yellow Belt level.

Some might say that this is unfair, but I think the principle is a sound one.

A time management system is well constructed when all of the interrelated parts work well together. One faulty part can cause the entire system to fail. The parts happen to be interdependent with one another, much in the way that one foot depends on the other when someone attempts to run.

Time demands that enter our lives are dealt with by one fundamental, and then another, until those demands are completed.

Some might say that the fundamentals are like different swimming strokes — freestyle, breaststroke, backstroke, and butterfly. They are each independent strokes that have little to do with one another.

A time management system, however, is more like an individual medley event in which a swimmer is handicapped if one stroke is ineffective. The entire race suffers because one stroke is weak.

One of the problems that most commercial time management systems like Getting Things Done, Do It Tomorrow and others have is that they’re strong in some fundamentals and weak in others. Users aren’t taught how to upgrade their time management systems beyond the example provided — or taught that it’s even an option.

Users need to be savvy and understand that their time management system is something that fits only them. No one else’s system will provide a perfect fit, and they shouldn’t try to force themselves into someone else’s habit or pattern.

We need to retain ownership of our time management systems as we read this blog, read David Allen’s book, or take Covey’s class. They should all be seen as useful inputs to OUR systems and as possible sources of assistance as we perfect our lives.