MyTimeDesign Offer Ends Tomorrow

mtd0008.jpgI originally planned to offer the US$1 – 30 day trial of MyTimeDesign until April 30th, but I have changed my mind and will yield to my better instincts.

I am going to close MyTimeDesign to new registrations as of May 1st.

There are so many enhancements that I’d like to make, that the best thing to do is to re-think how the program is offered to the public, and to implement many of the suggestions I have received since the product was launched.

There are also a variety of “flavors” I have wanted to offer for some time, and some new tools I have wanted to add to the program.  I also am contemplating the creation of a 6-week offering that will give users a quicker introduction to the essential fundamentals.

To help me make the right changes, in a week or two, I’ll be inviting all subscribers to complete a simple survey.  I am eager to hear how I can help you create and implement your own custom time management systems.

Blackberry Slavery Article

I wrote a post as a guest-writer the Stepcase LifeHack website entitled “Blackberry Slavery” that was published today.In the article, I describe how PDA’s armed with real-time email are allowing companies to take advantage of employees’ fears of losing their jobs.All this, while HR department move much too move slowly to  protect employee down-time, and ultimately the productivity of thier most valuable resource: human beings.The article can entitled “Blackberry Slavery” can be accessed here.  

What Time Management Really Is

sisterpeace.jpgIn an earlier post I explained that time really cannot be managed, even though we think that it can, and that we have the power to so.. “Time Management” is truly a misnomer.

The term is still widely used both here and in other places, as it’s just too clumsy to use a different word or phrase. In the 2Time way of thinking, I use the term, but I actually apply it in different ways.

In 2Time, “time management” means:

#1 – Peace of Mind Management
The primary goal of a time management system is the production of peace of mind.  Nothing is more important, and every change in a time management system is measured by its impact on this overall measure.   This is one the reasons why time management systems vary from one person to another.  what creates peace for me, might do the opposite for you.

#2 Productivity Management
Unfortunately, there is no peace of mind for working professionals unless they believe that they are being productive.  The problem they have is that there is no agreed-upon way of knowing that they are being as productive as they can be — it’s not as easy as measuring a physical characteristic, such as height and weight.

For knowledge professionals, I recommend the use of proxy measures as a way of tracking their productivity.

Proxy Measure #1: The number of time demands that fall through the cracks.  In other words, how many commitments failed to be completed because they were not properly managed?

Proxy Measure #2:  The number of appointments that are late in starting, or are missed altogether

Proxy Measure #3:  The number of items in a user’s email inbox

Proxy Measure #4;  The number of regrets experienced verbally per day that one “needs more time” or “should be better organized.”

These are simply tools that a professional can use to manage their productivity when they are used together.


Information on Using PDA’s for Productivity

Just curious… but is there a site on the internet that actually evaluates PDA’s in terms of their original intent – productivity?

I have looked around and there is a lot of information on the additional entertainment doo-dah’s, but nothing about the 11 fundamentals that are addressed here in 2Time.

I imagine that there is room for a product that is actually built around the way people capture time demands and then manage them.

Let me know if there is such a site, or if there is a PDA that is being designed in this way.

650 billion (not million) in Interruptions

An interesting article in the New York Times entitled”Lost in Email, Tech Firms Face Self-Made Beast.”

Their effort comes as statistical and anecdotal evidence mounts that the same technology tools that have led to improvements in productivity can be counterproductive if overused.

The article describes one study that shows that some 28% of a professional’s day is spent deal with interruptions by things that aren’t urgent or important.

This seems all well and good… until they give the example of “unnecessary email.”

That made me pay attention, because I know from experience that the problem isn’t the technology, but instead it lies in people’s habits. In others, don’t blame Microsoft Outlook for the habit of checking and acting on email ten times per day.

Not surprisingly, the article cited the example of Intel workers who were encouraged to “limit digital interruptions” and were way more effective as a result. No surprise there! Limiting the interruptions allows for a greater opportunity to enter into the flow state, which is one of the goals of the 2Time Management system.

On engineer has apparently introduced a tool that will prevent a user from having access to his/her email inbox! I thought this was funny at first, because it’s a little like freezing one’s credit cards in a block of ice to prevent impulse purchases. It works, but it doesn’t really change the underlying habit.

The effect of poor habits is now being seen as quite costly:

A typical information worker who sits at a computer all day turns to his e-mail program more than 50 times and uses instant messaging 77 times, according to one measure by RescueTime, a company that analyzes computer habits. The company, which draws its data from 40,000 people who have tracking software on their computers, found that on average the worker also stops at 40 Web sites over the course of the day.


Right at the end of the article a typo caught my attention that stopped me in my tracks altogether…

Correction: June 18, 2008
An article on Saturday about efforts to cut down on information overload in the workplace, using data from the research firm Basex, gave an incorrect estimate in some editions for the annual cost of unnecessary interruptions at work. It is $650 billion — not million.

Choosing a New PDA

palms-assortedpalms.jpgAfter a day of trying to fix my 5 year-old Palm Tungsten T I am just about to throw in the towel.  In my haste, I made a bid on ebay for a used Tungsten T for US$25, but now I am wondering if I did the right thing.

What should I be really looking for at this point?

Lately it seems that the productivity market for PDA’s has been ignored, and what has come into vogue is a massive case of feature creep with PDA’s being “augmented” by any electronic tool that can be found lying around.  Today we have the following list of options:

  • PDA + cell phone
  • PDA + camera
  • PDA + GPS
  • PDA + iPod/mp3 player
  • PDA + video camera
  • PDA +HD radio
  • PDA + ebook reader
  • PDA + Gaming device
  • PDA + browser
  • PDA + IM’s
  • PDA + SMS
  • PDA + Television remote (no kidding)

And of course, there are various combinations of the above optional items.

Over time, the “PDA” portion of each device has shrunk in favor of the new “bling-bling,” giving less space and resources on the device to the management of time demands.  in the advertising, the important has given way to the entertaining and frivolous. As a result, it’s become harder to find a PDA that is devoted to productivity.

After looking around a bit, it’s hard to find a company that is even thinking of productivity in the terms that we use them here at 2Time — managing time demands to increase peace of mind and user productivity.

I am open to recommendations, but a bit taken aback that in the last five years since I bought my Tungsten, no progress has been made in designing PDA’s that more closely fit the needs of users.  (I have the same complaint about Microsoft Office, which has essentially changed only its color scheme between XP and 2007 versions.)

I’d love to find a company that is serious about building productivity software and hardware around the actual needs of users, taking into account the fact that users must deal with an increasing number of time demands in an effective way.  I think that the first company to come up with a system that is more than just a conglomeration of disconnected features is likely to do quite well.

In the meantime, my search continues.  As I indicated earlier, I am open to suggestions, but I think that I’ll be limiting my search to Palm OS devices, given the number of programs I have purchased based on that OS.  That limits my choices tremendously, but if I get my PDA working again, I think I’ll nurse it along until someone comes up with a better device.

Visiting a CrackBerry Forum

money-and-gun.jpgI spent a few minutes this morning starting to do some research into how Blackberry’s are used.

I visited the Crackberry Forum and have looking around for a conversation to join on how their productivity has been improving from using their Blackberry.

I am still searching, but after 30 minutes, I can’t find anything on the topic.

That is, unless one defines productivity as the ability to say “I can send and receive email in the shower,” or “I am addicted to my device.”

While the Blackberry undoubtedly allows its users a certain freedom of movement, that capability does not mean that someone is more productive.  I compare it with another dubious claim — having a new piece of gym equipment at home, does not mean that someone is more healthy.

If there is one thing advertisers are very good at, it’s selling the general public on the idea that achieving their goals has more to do with purchasing equipment, than it does personal habits and practices.  Unless underlying practices change, its hard to imagine how any piece of equipment can make a difference.

I am coming to believe  that  the gains to be made by being able to read  and send email from anywhere, are easily negated by the many, many times that a Blackberry user is distracted from doing the primary task they are out to accomplish.

Here is a case in point, in a post from the forum:

Today I was at my Wife’s dad’s funeral and was sitting in the second row, the first thing my mother in-law did when we sat down was reach behind her to where I was sitting and said, “give it to me”. I knew EXACTLY what she was talking about and refused but I showed her that it was in Vibrate and I wouldn’t be doing anything work related at that time because they knew I was busy with the funeral today. That lasted all of about 5 minutes into the service before I started replying back to e-mails very quietly and attempting to login to one of my servers to restart the anti-spam service because I was getting hammered with SPAM to my BB.

Setting aside the obvious display of bad manners, this kind of behavior costs something to the user, his wife, his mother-in-law and those around him.

This is just not a demonstration of an increase in productivity.

But the  problem doesn’t lie in the device.  The device is superb at doing what it does — providing portable email-based computing.

However, people whose practices are poor don’t benefit from the purchase of a Blackberry, any more than a monkey’s safety improves  when it finds a  working gun in the forest.  In each case, there might be a kind of addiction that makes it a bit useful, but the overall result could very well lead to disaster.