Coming Soon – The Audiobook version of Perfect Time-Based Productivity

This is just a heads up… I am nearing the final completion of the audio version of my book, Perfect Time-Based Productivity.

The graphic at left is a bit misleading as it shows the first edition cover, rather than the second.

It’s taken a lot longer than I thought to complete, but the end product should provide anyone who delivers training, coaching or consulting in time management with a powerful resource. Of course, it will be updated with all the recent ideas in the field, including my switch to using an auto-scheduler.

In addition, the French and Portuguese versions of the ebook are now available, with the Spanish version to be released soon.


Helping People Grow from Novice to Expert

One of the key tenets of the work here at 2Time Labs is that learners / coachees are not all made equal.

In other words, they vary from each other in important ways. A major factor is their skill in different behaviors.

I just recently released the second edition of Perfect Time-Based Productivity and once again, the following idea is core: adults have wildly different practices for managing time demands. (This fact is documented here.) And it’s not by accident…we are all self-taught.

In keeping with this philosophy, I came across a great article – When Do Novices Become Experts?

The author, David Didau, reinforces the idea that it’s folly to teach, coach or develop content for the Novice in the same way as the Expert. Take a look at the chart he has put together – it will change the way you think about helping clients improve their time-based productivity.

When Do Novices Become Experts

Is it better to schedule your life?

As a time adviser, you may be asked by your clients whether or not it’s better to schedule your life.

Probably the worst answer to give is a Yes or No. It will only take a few minutes for your coachee to Google the question and find lots of supporting evidence which contradicts your advice.

Instead, offer them a more nuanced answer… “It depends.” That’s the essence of the advice I gave to a similar Quora question.

Quora: Is it better to schedule your life?

New Podcast Series

Recently, I was invited to join a brand new series of podcasts. It features an interesting group of 4 productivity content creators who all have different perspectives.

In a recent podcast, we looked at the ways we can use to get unstuck. Take a listen – I believe you will find this to be different than the usual interview format which tends to lack the depth that we get into.

ProductivityCast Episode 13 – Getting Unstuck

How Do You Help Your Clients Achieve Elite Performance?

Over at the ScheduleU website, I just shared the first post in a series, based on the finding in a Linkedin study. It revealed that only 11% of professionals surveyed complete all the items on their daily To-Do List.

As a trainer/coach, you may instinctively know what this translates into – a lot of failures.

When a client or prospect approaches you with this problem, what is the best way for you to respond? In this opening article, I introduce the first idea of many to be shared in a series of posts.

By the time we are done with this topic, I hope to prove you some solid direction on how to help someone who has the will to be an elite performer in time-based productivity but lacks the necessary skill.

Here is the link to the article:

Becoming like the elite 11% who get all their tasks done each day

On Helping Your Client to Schedule Everything

Shortly after I finished Perfect Time-Based Productivity, I decided to offer the most busy, ambitious ones some special assistance.

They needed to master the technique of Total Task Scheduling and there was absolutely no help available to them to fulfill this goal. Other books, blogs and podcasts came out suggesting that the approach benefits people who have a lot of tasks to manage, but there was still little real training, coaching or programs.

It became a bit like the idea of Paradise. Many might be called, but few were actually being chosen. The failure rate seems to be ridiculously high.

Until now, perhaps. I recently wrote a post announcing the launch of Schedule U, an answer to this lack of help. At the moment, it’s the only place I know where real training in Total Task Scheduling is available.

But here, you tell me whether or not your clients would like you to help them with this skill! Click here.

What If Your Clients Want to Schedule Everything?

You may not be a Total Task Scheduler. But what about your clients?

I have an interesting conversation with a client recently about her unwillingness to become a Total Task Scheduler.

She had an interesting observation: even if she never uses the technique, she needs to offer it to her clients who decide that it’s something they want to adopt.

To that end, she is part of my Beta team for a new site I am developing –

It’s a “School for Scheduling Everything” and you may want to understand where this effort is headed. visit the page to sign up for early notification and I will let you know when the site is available in Beta.

The Client’s Journey which Time Management Coaches Must Know

Vector Road Infographic Design Template. Elements are layered separately in vector file.Time management coaching is no easy avocation. Part of the confusion arises because coaches, consultants, professional organizers and trainers sometimes get stuck in a single model… or in the case of the diagram on the right, at a single level.

It’s an infographic lifted from an article I wrote on Medium: What Task Management App Developers Can Do to Catch Up with Pokemon Go.

I invite you to take a look as it explains the behaviors users undertake as they change their behavior to match the volume of time demands they must manage. While the article is targeted towards developers, it has powerful lessons for coaches.

One is that  a coach must strive to be engaging, and the best way to do so is understand the deep principles of gamification.

As you may imagine, a coach who understands these concepts can be very useful to their clients.

Helping Clients to Create New Habits

“Time management” has a bad rap. It’s often held up as the kind of training in which everything sounds good while the teacher is in the classroom, works for a few days and then disappears immediately after. Old behaviors re-assert themselves with a vengeance as the learner’s vision of being more productive are dashed.

As a helping professional you are devastated when this happens. You are, after all, only as successful as your clients new habits. If they fail to change, you have failed.

Your role, therefore, is to do more than provide new insights.

The fact that you can do so is rarely disputed. Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hour rule has been clarified by the authors of the original study in this article on Salon:

Third, Gladwell didn’t distinguish between the type of practice that the musicians in our study did — a very specific sort of practice referred to as “deliberate practice” which involves constantly pushing oneself beyond one’s comfort zone, following training activities designed by an expert to develop specific abilities, and using feedback to identify weaknesses and work on them — and any sort of activity that might be labeled “practice.

Note the emphasis (which most people overlook) on the role of the “expert” – someone who knows enough about the field to design “deliberate practice.” In their studies, the authors are adamant about the critical role this person plays.

But how does the expert help the learner develop new habits? According to a study from the University of London, most people get this completely wrong, including the developers of apps. In general, we believe that repetition, timed reminders and recording our progress are important for habit development. The study shows that they aren’t nearly as important as the at of designing events that trigger habitual behavior. I explain the findings in this article on my book’s website.

A time adviser who understands these distinctions can make the kind of long-lasting difference his/her clients desperately want.

Should a Time Adviser Stay Abreast of the Latest Technology?

What are clients coming to expect from their time advisers with respect to technology? Is it changing?

Getting Things Done has been widely touted and praised as a tool agnostic approach. That is, it was designed without any particular app, device, platform or medium in mind, whether it be paper, digital or personal memory-based.

Many consultants, professional organizers, coaches and trainers have taken the same approach, sincerely believing that the best tool for a client is a personal choice that a client needs to make on his/her own. The search for the right app is a personal choice and so is the process.

Recently, this advice has struck me as odd: not in keeping with the times we live in.

While I don’t advocate a return to the days when time management training was done by solution vendors who pushed their own approach (thereby increasing sales of add-on’s) I think there is a new trend emerging. Clients expect their time advisers to be experts, not novices in the business of choosing tools. Many, by taking the tool agnostic approach, have rendered themselves clueless about the choices that exist, ignorant of the process the client must undertake to make a decision.

This is a mistake.

Every single client must make some difficult choices about their evolutionary pathway from the system they currently have to the one they intend to use in the near, middle and distant future. It’s a point I make in Perfect Time-Based Productivity. Why?

Research shows that as the number of time demands (i.e. self-generated tasks) increases, they must evolve their approach. They simply don’t have a choice; and it’s certainly not a matter of taste, style or personality.

Most clients are unaware of this fact. However, as a time adviser, you cannot be.

Even if you prefer to use paper, you must to be able to advise a client who needs to use the best technology available. Or at the very least, you must be able to satisfy a client’s curiosity about their options.

I recommend that my trainees follow these principles, regardless of the outcome:

Principle 1 – One size doesn’t fit all. There is no perfect tool set for every individual. You must take ownership of the need to carve out your own system of skills, practices and tools.

Principle 2 – An individual’s system must match his/her volume of time demands. There is a progression that a user must respect and fit their choices in accordingly. (See the graphic below.)

Principle 3 – Everyone who plans to be working for at least the next five years needs an upgrade path – an understanding of how they will deal with the inevitable increase in time demands. A good time adviser doesn’t give clients a single set of skills, practices and tools to work with. They are continuously preparing them for the future.

Here’s a graphic I just drafted that ties together these principles – (A final version will be completed soon.)

listers vs schedulers

It’s based on a long article I wrote called Learning to Optimize Each Day’s Plan from the Controversy Between Listers and Schedulers [ Research].

A skillful time adviser understands this evolution and can speak to each of the five steps in the graphic with some expertise. It’s an inescapable process in which clients can easily locate their current, past and future state. You can help them understand their upgrade options and how to implement them effectively.

But what are the options at each stage?

This is where you need to stay current. Even though you may not be able to know everything, you must stay a step ahead of the average client – indeed, you are expected to do so.

To keep your knowledge of the most recent tools current, I recommend that you check out the following forums. – Follow forums like Personal Productivity Apps, Time Management Software and Productivity Software.

Productivity Stack Exchange – Check out tags like calendar, scheduling and software.

GTD – Discuss Tools & Software – This community occasionally takes a deep dive that illuminates different schools of thought.

Reddit – You can use my subreddit to see the topics I follow which sometimes relate to tools.

If you keep abreast of these groups I believe you will remain reasonably well-informed. One thing you will learn is that it’s a huge mistake for a time adviser to conclude that a client should use one system; that their job is to enforce it at all costs, now and forever. That’s the kind of dogmatism I illustrated in Bill’s Im-Perfect Time Management Adventure and it has no place in the practice of the modern time adviser.

Instead, I’m inspired by what I learned from being trained by Thomas Leonard of CoachU in the early 1990’s : the best coaches empower their coachees to operate effectively without them for years to come. Helping your clients to see the big picture – their future – and the small skills, practices and tools to be used along the way serves them best.