I recently got a little too happy when I found a game on CNet.com that claimed to be a “time management game.”
The reason for my premature celebration is that I have been trying to find a way to help participants in my 2-day and online programs to practice the 11 fundamentals in some way. I initially imagined that this could be done through a simulation, in which I created an imaginary environment to manage a large number of time demands.
The game, which I played for an hour, was all about running a pet fish store, and required the owner to make split-second decisions about what fish to stock, what fish-food to use and what ornaments to place in the tank. As the game progressed, things moved faster and faster, and at different levels, points could be accumulated that could be exchanged for a bigger tank and better machines, among other upgrades.
As time went on, I was indeed getting better at playing the game, and at making split-second decisions about how to manage my time in the game.
The only problem is, the game lasted only 60 minutes, and I don’t plan to ever play it again.
So, my new-found skills are essentially useless now that the game is over, as all I really learned to do was to play the game better.
It reminded me of a day I spent on a ropes course with a team of which I was a member. We performed all sorts of interesting tasks that required communication, teamwork, planning, etc.
However, it made not a shred of difference to the members of the team, once we returned to the office.
I suppose that with constant practice that we could have become better at navigating ropes courses. I also imagine that with more time I could have become a better player of the “pet-fish store game.”
However, I would not have become a better team player, or have improved any time management skills by continuing in either direction.
This makes sense — I doubt that Michael Jordan spends too much time improving his basketball game by playing NBA Live on his Nintendo. Also, I doubt that the kid who won the last World of Warcraft contest would do too well fighting the insurgents in Afghanistan.
In the 2Time system, the core habits that I identified were only those that could be observed, and they all include some element of physical motion. Mental habits like ” focusing” or “prioritizing” were deliberately left out of the fundamentals.
I now see that playing a video game involves very different physical motion and practices than playing basketball. Someone watching a game player from behind would not mistake them for a basketball player due to how differently they are using their bodies.
Someone watching a team going through a session at the ropes course would not be mistake them for a team that is huddled over the sales results from last month trying to decide which strategy to follow.
Finally, playing a video game does not, alas, make me a better manager of my time, unless it causes me to engage in one or more of the 11 fundamentals in some way.
I think that true practice comes from repeating actions until they become ingrained into our neuro-muscular systems, and if that’s not happening, then it’s not really practice.
So, I am back to where I started, still looking for a way to help users to practice the 11 fundamentals in a safe environment.
Click here to be taken to Jenny’s Fish-Shop – Time Management Game.