Taking the Measure of Your Time Management System

Recently, I had the first graduate of the NewHabits programme here in Kingston ask to be certified at a new belt level, and it made me wonder whether or not I have the right set of measures set up to graduate a user from a White Belt in time management to a Black Belt.

The “test” took the form of a quick interview over the phone in which I quizzed him about his practices in each of the 11 fundamentals.  He easily “passed,” and we had an interesting chat after which I prepared his Yellow Belt for delivery.

Afterwards, I wondered to myself if I measured the right thing, and it took me to a bigger question.

I don’t know whether the quality of a time management system should be determined by the way in which a user engages the critical practices, or the objective results that they are able to accomplish.

In the past, as noted in this blog, I have firmly adhered to the idea that a Green Belt in time management, for example, should have accomplished a particular level of skill in each of the 11 fundamentals the underlie all time management systems.  The ladder of belts that I created is an easy way for a user to measure his/her progress overall.

But is that the best, or only measure?I realized that there are others that could be used that could just as useful, such as:

  • the average number of unprocessed emails in his inbox / voicemail inbox /etc.
  • the average number of unread emails in his inbox / voicemail inbox /etc.
  • the amount of time it takes to reply to an email on average
  • the number of appointments that were missed during a week
  • how fresh /stale the items are in various lists
  • how many activities are determined by a schedule

These are also valid measures that can be used to evaluate the quality of a time management system that seem to deserve a place, but the problem is that the tools don’t exist to measure any of them.

The closest I have found was a recent discovery that  Xobni, the Outlook add-on, does measure a few interesting facts about an individual’s email usage.  (I re-installed the program this week after a few months hiatus, due to a system crash.) Here is an idea of what it measures: