I engaged in a fabulous conversation late last week with a coaching client that dissected the interchange between workflow processing and time management. In short, we concluded that workflow management is about the “what” of productivity and that time management is about the “when” of productivity. With that in hand, the final question centers on the “how” – which is where programs like QuietSpacing(tm) pay dividends.
The What: Most of us have some mechanism for tracking the work that needs to get done – either efficiently or inefficiently. Many of those techniques and behaviors were learned in an ad hoc manner when we first started working. The “to-do list” is the most common method for tracking “what” needs doing. These little scraps of magic are effective…to a point. The biggest problem we suffer in today’s working environment is the speed at which new things come at us via our advanced communication technologies. Nonetheless, most people steadfastly adhere to the notion of a “to-do list” trying desperately to keep up-to-date during the daily barrage of e-mails, phone calls, and meetings.
The When: Back in the “old days” we knew there would be periods during which we could get work done – quiet time between meetings and phone calls that served as periods of focus. Those serene moments were obliterated by e-mail. Now, most people try to snatch small segments of time to get work done in between the hundreds of new emails that come into their Inboxes. The result, whether we admit it to ourselves (and others) or not, is productivity is greatly reduced. In its place is lots of activity with no corresponding accomplishment.
The How: Given that we have more coming in faster in today’s modern working environments, the historical methods for handling our workflow and time need to change. Instead of trying to freeze moments of time and work into snap shots and blocked periods of work, we need to view these efforts as an ever-flowing event. Our work and our use of time must be viewed as a constantly-changing continuum and the tips and tricks we use to track what needs doing and when we do it must similarly flow forward.
Whether you choose QuietSpacing(tm) as that method or some other productivity model, I encourage you to look with a critical eye at the architecture being proposed. Does it move with time seamlessly? Does it allow you to readily and with minimal administrative effort track your work? Does it promote the technologies you find in your work environment as ways of increasing your productivity and your sense of well being?
These are the questions we face in the modern world of global, electronic working environments. Make sure you’re adapting to it by using the most effective means available to you!
One thought on “When What Meets When; But What About How?”
Very well said, Paul. Your words speak to me and I am sure to others who think like me. But it is very heady stuff.
Here’s the way I think about your tools. Like me, I think most professionals have struggled and have made progress gathering, compiling and categorizing projects and tasks (i.e., WHAT we need to do.) We can even set goals and determine how these items will help us achieve our goals. Yes, more is flying at us faster, and we just make our lists longer. But these lists are not going to help us get more done, and the most valuable things done, in less time (improve our productivity). We need a system to help us confront and manage the question of WHEN we are going to do these things. This is the missing piece for most of us. We don’t recognize that WHEN we do things is in our control if we have a system to help us take the wheel. QuietSpacing can help us get control.