Time Management – The Lost Discipline

Time Management Evolution

In the 60s, time management was all about efficiency and clocking time, looking at where the time went and trying to do things faster and faster. Then the Eisenhower matrix was made famous in the 80s by Stephen Covey. The methodology was to look at tasks or to-dos based on what’s urgent and what’s important. If it’s not urgent and it’s not important, you really shouldn’t be doing it. It suggests that you want to avoid firefighting and spend as much time as you can on things that are important and not urgent, which is the strategic box. This was one of the many frameworks where you can sort of help organize your to-dos.

In the early 90s, learning time management best practices was a prerequisite for promotion in many organizations. There were annual conferences and training events in most western countries. Leaders would carry with them hardcopy time management diaries with templates for life and 5/3/1 year goal setting, monthly and weekly priorities, reminder lists and daily to-do’s. No copy-paste, it was all updated by hand!

Then along came to this thing called the internet. Desktop digital calendars were in vogue by 1998 and by 2003 nearly every leader owned a first-generation smartphone. These were fantastic innovations at the time, but almost overnight, 15 years of time management thinking and best practices disappeared. Not good! Popular hard-copy diaries disappeared and most of the next generation of leaders were no longer formally trained in time management. 

Despite the brilliant advances in technology in the last 10 years, we observed a rapidly declining ability of leaders to get things done. Nearly everyone is distracted by real-time notifications, instant messaging and shallow working. The ability and willingness to concentrate on deep work, that creates high value, seems to be lost and replaced with “being busy”.

Here are the golden nuggets of time management that were lost when the world embraced digital calendars and first-generation smartphones, in particular:

  • unplanned – what do you need to allow per day for your role (e.g. if you work in HR, you may need to allow 120 mins per day for unplanned interruptions from your colleagues, whereas a researcher might get by on allowing only 30 mins)
  • planned – how long do you think each to-do will take
  • actual – clocking the actual time you worked on each to-do
  • capacity – seeing your planned capacity relative to your target work hours for today
  • must do – which to-do’s must be done today
  • dependent – which to-do’s are other people waiting on before they can move forward
  • order – setting the cadence and order of to-do’s around how you work best as an individual
  • longer to-do’s – 15 mins or more, to be scheduled individually around your calendar events
  • quick to-do’s – to be grouped and scheduled as allowances around your calendar events

With experimentation, objectivity, passion, numerous iterations and a talented hardworking team, our team have landed on a beautiful solution – a FREE app that incorporates the lost discipline of time management along with the new! We have taken the last 40 years of time management thinking, updated it with how people prefer to work today, including addressing where their days go wrong, and then combined all of that into a simple app that respects the need for personal and work calendars.

To learn more, you may register for a FREE webinar on time management, productivity & work-life balance to Change Your Life Overnight and Live with Less Stress!