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Month: May 2005

Action Management vs. Time Management

Action Management vs. Time Management

I’ve had a deep interest in time management for many years now.  I’ve adopted the Priority Manager system, with some success for a while, with A. B and C categorisation.  I’ve jumped on board the 7 Habits train, and learned to balance urgency and effectiveness, putting first things first.  But I’ve continuously found that no matter how much I’ve tried to manage time, it often doesn’t want to be managed.

It may be a bit of a cliche, but time is one of the few constants in the world.  We all have 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week, 52 weeks in a year, and so on.  No matter how hard we try, time just want stand still.  It has momentum, and moves along at a constant speed of 60 minutes an hour.

So its kind of a misconception to have the belief that time can be managed.  We can only manage ourselves, and our actions, within the time we have available to us.  Into that limited bucket, we need to pour rest, work and play, in some combination that gives us the return that we desire.

Everything we do is an action – whether it be sleep, eat, attend a meeting, complete a report, send an email, take a customer to lunch, take a loved one to dinnner,  drive to work, go to a movie, have a dive or whatever.  Whatever we don’t do isn’t an action – its an idea for a future action.

So, for me, personal productivity is all about managing the actions that we take relative to the commitments we make/have in life.

I guess this is why I’ve taken to David Allen’s Getting Things Done approach.  GTD drives us to catalogue our entire inventory of actual and possible actions (and the projects they are associated with), and organise them into a system that will remind us when and where we are best able to tackle them.  It provides a framework in which to keep that catalogue alive, and topped up with actions that are associated with fresh and exciting new projects.

We need to handle our priorities in life.  But we need to live those on a day to day basis that revolves around taking on and executing actions that relate closely to the work we do, and the life we live.

My Favourite Productivity Applications

My Favourite Productivity Applications

Well, just thinking about the various productivity applications that I use to support my day-to-day life, my GTD implementation and computer time in general.  I have learnt the hard way that keeping it simple is a good thing – and that the technology you use should support your system, rather than be the focus of your system.  So I am very careful now to evaluate carefully whether a new technology is in fact useful, or whether its adding overhead to my system.

So that said, here are several applications that I use on a regular basis throughout the day

  • MindManager from MindJet Systems.  Simply the best mind mapping tool I’ve found yet
  • ActiveWords. A terrific way of re-defining the human-computer interface.  Just say the word, and ActiveWords will take control of various pre-defined and routine functions for you.  Buzz Bruggeman is the guy behind ActiveWords, and is certainly a wonderful ambassador for both the Blogosphere, as well as GTD
  • Anagram from Textual is a simple way to capture text, contacts, appointments, etc, straight to your Palm Desktop or Outlook environment.  It is smart – you simply highlight text, and it makes an effort to determine what it is, and what information goes into various fields.  A real time saver
  • Copernic Desktop Search.  A fantastic and simple interface to search your desktop.  If you’re not using desktop search, you should be.
  • Bloglines. I’m on the go, and regularly use three computers, plus my Palm.  Keeping my blogroll in one place, and in sync is powerful, especially as I’ve come to depend on Blogs (I really mean RSS feeds) as a primary news source.

I’m sure that these apps will not be “news” to most on the blogosphere, but I just thought that I should give some credit back to them for productivity benefits they have provided to me.