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Why another time management system?

There are more than 50 time management techniques out there, so why should we need another one?


Road sign with a truck stuck on a bump

Se sei sovraccarico, resterai bloccato al primo ostacolo

Photo by Artur Opala on Unsplash

Yes, what's wrong really

There are more than 50 time management techniques out there, that should be enough for anyone to choose from and find the right technique, and nevertheless I created another one, oneatatime, and I am here introducing it and advocating for it.

I have used many of the above mentioned techniques, and found some of them really useful, like the Pomodoro Technique, Personal Kanban, and others not so much viable and effective. The turning point, for me, came the day I suffered a burnout. It was then that all those time management techniques fell short, because I realized that, to conduct a functioning life, managing time is not enough: you have to also manage your physical energy and your emotional drive. But that's another story.

The story here is about what's wrong in the current state of Time Management techniques.

Time is a non renewable, non storable resource, when it's gone, it's gone. Everyone is given the same amount every day, 24 hours, and that is why, using time wisely is important.

The main shortcoming: missing the big picture.

Most of the time management systems and techniques miss the big picture in many aspects. That's a normal consequence of the general, implied approach adopted by the techniques: reductionism. And, adopting a reductionist approach, makes a lot of sense. Take a big, hard problem, and reduce it to smaller more manageable problems, et voilà: the trick is done.

Unless the trick is not done, because you lost sight of the environment in which the hard problem sits, and your purpose in solving the problem in the first place, and you end up spinning a wheel faster, and faster, just to find yourself in the same spot, like a hamster.

And the most important thing that gets lost is You. You are a human being. And this is the first, most important reason why I think oneatatime is relevant: it is made for humans, like you.

Racing cars track from above

Photo by sergio souza on Unsplash

oneatatime is about the human being and stands on 3 major pillars: physical, emotional and cognitive. All three pillars are important. The physical pillar is the most obvious, and is neglected by the majority of the time management systems, while being the most critical.
Who is going to get the most done? Someone who has plenty of energy or someone who has few? What is the productivity of a sick person? In no way, a time management trick is going to help you, if you are sick or you get tired too fast.

When you acknowledge and address the problem of your physical energy, then you will find big opportunities for improving your productivity, and oneatatime will help you in this.

Physical energy is a finite resource, and renewable. If you take care of it, then you will have more available in a given day.

Another big target that is missed by most of the time management systems are your feelings and your emotions. It is undisputable that how you feel impacts your ability to tackle and perform well in completing difficult tasks. Just think about which is the toughest obstacle to overcome, when you have to speak in front of an audience: it's your emotions. Your emotions are part of the productivity equation, and can't be dismissed when addressing time management.

The last pillar, the cognitive, is the one you find most of the time management systems sitting on. Those tend to address the problem providing advice, tactics and strategies about the best way to organize and prioritize your tasks. While helpful in remembering, reducing complexity and keeping you focused on the tasks at hand, the big picture is missed again: in the details. Why you are doing what you are doing is completely lost, and it's all good as long as you complete many tasks.

To start answering the question of why a new system is needed, the answer is: because you need a system that is made for a human being, and that's what you are.

Not addressing time, in the end.

I find very curious that most time management systems fail to address time at all. I have read many time management books and used many time management systems, and they don't take into account that you have exactly 24 hours in a day, no less and no more. There are exceptions, like the Pomodoro Technique, by Francesco Cirillo, and One Thing, by Keller & Papasan. Nonetheless, the others fail to take in account that you have to sleep, eat, take care of yourself just to be presentable, take care of your loved ones, and take some time off every now and then.
In the end, this is another big picture miss. You are looking for a time management system because you want to live a better life, get rewarded for your accomplishments, and enjoy the beauties of the world, also because your time in this life is limited. You really don't want that the inscription on your tombstone be like: "Worked a lot".

oneatatime will also help you understand what you are doing with your time, all 24 hours of it.

The Pomodoro Technique was created with the aim of using time as a valuable ally to accomplish what we want to do the way we want to do it and to empower us to improve our work or study progress continuously.

Francesco Cirillo

You are already good at managing time to some extent.

I don't know about you, but one of the things that gets on my nerves is waste. Many time management systems require you to get rid of your current strategies and tactics for managing your tasks, and adopt, and learn the ones proposed by the time management guru.

But wait! Aren't you already able to get to work reasonably on time, perform something for which you are rewarded or paid for, be reasonably on time for the dentist appointment?
If the answer is yes, then starting from scratch again, getting rid of your old habits, and installing new ones is a waste. Those strategies have served you reasonably well after all, so why discard them, and get back to the starting line?
Wouldn't it be better to build, and improve on what you already got? That is exactly what oneatatime is about. The system will be useful both for complete dummies, and time management wizards, and all through that spectrum.

Five funny tin robots

You are not a tin robot.

Photo by Eric Krull on Unsplash

You are not a Robot

It turns out that whether someone is trying to qualify for the Olympics, break ground in mathematical theory, or craft an artistic masterpiece, many principles underlying healthy, sustainable success are the same.

Peak Performance, Brad Stulberg, Steve Magness

The vast majority of the time management techniques assume that you are a robot. Those give you some clever advice on how to organize your tasks and, then it's all easy and, you just have to, faithfully, execute the tactics and strategies you are provided, and you will be happy and productive.
That's Bullshit!

Humans don't work like that. Most of the time, you know what is the right thing to do, and nonetheless you don't follow up. You know that you should not eat another cupcake, you know that you should not waste time on the social networks, you know you should exercise, but you don't act accordingly. What is missing is the drive to steer your behaviour to the right thing, and oneatatime will help you with that.

Moreover, there is another big problem with the robot approach: it's all in. You have to be able to execute the robot system, or you will fail. Since you are learning the system, then you are going to make mistakes, in the beginning, and when the system is hard, then it leads to discouragement and is a waste of time. oneatatime is designed to build upon the skills you already have, and focus on progress.

You are a learning machine

Another shortcoming of the robotic approach is that it doesn't leverage one of your most important natural ability: learning.

One of the reasons why humans are the most successful animal on the planet, is the ability to adapt. Humans have this ability to learn and adapt built in. Even if you don't want to, you constantly learn new things. oneatatime is designed to help you learn your way to better productivity.

Clear goals
Clear rules
Immediate feedback

oneatatime's approach to improve your ability to get things done, is to set clear goals, following simple and clear rules, and receive fast and visual feedback. One of the most important differences is that oneatatime starting point is to lay down explicit goals beforehand and keep you focused and emotionally engaged on them. The rules are simple and easy to remember and don't require much time: around 15 minutes a day. Most of the rules are expressed visually, using the oneatatime planner, and don't need to be stated explicitly. The visual approach helps deliver an immediate feedback, and you always know where you are, and how you are doing. You will always be aware of what your situation is and what is missing for reaching your goal.

One size doesn't fit all

A rigid time management system won't be able to adapt to your situation, on the contrary it will require you to adapt to the system. And this is fundamentally wrong because we are all different. Your job, your life, your skills can be very different, and yet a good time management system should be flexible enough to be useful, no matter your situation. An accountant, a manager, an artist, and a software developer should adopt very different time and task management strategies and tactics. The accountant strategies won't fit the artists needs. Yet this is the situation of most time management systems.
oneatatime will help you discover the best strategy for your job, your life, and your skills.

In summary

After suffering a setback, because of a burnout, I hit the limits of the current time management systems, so I worked hard to design a new time management system that could overcome the shortcomings of the existing methods. 4 years after the fact, I am now ready for bringing to you what I learned: a system that is first and foremost designed for humans.

All good, but how do I know that it actually works?

In those 4 years I have tested the system. First on myself, then on 200+ people, and lastly in 10+ companies where I delivered the method and got paid for that.

Why should I care?

The world is accelerating, things happen faster every day, and you are exposed to and increasing amount of information. Being able to keep up with it, without being wiped out, is a key factor of success. If you don't do something about it, you will end out working your life out, instead of enjoying it.

What should I do?

Follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn, and ask me the digital version of the planner.