Recently, I interviewed a colleague, Francis Wade, of 2Time Labs, who is a trainer and researcher on time-based productivity. He recently released his second book, Perfect Time-Based Productivity: A unique way to protect your peace of mind as time demands increase. In my review of the book, I said that Francis has done a great service to the productivity field. His book contains an instructive and exhaustive deconstruction of personal productivity, along with an impressive collection of research on the topic. I find Francis’s approach very interesting and I wanted to share some of his thoughts.
Francis has a background in engineering, and discusses a concept he calls “time demands,” and the effects these demands have on our lives. I love his approach to the subject of time demands; he has a very inclusive attitude. Francis says that, looking at the “big picture,” there are no journals, conferences, or academic departments devoted entirely to the study of time management. He maintains that, indeed, there really is no such thing as “time-based productivity.” The term “time management” incorporates everything we do with respect to time. The concept of time management doesn’t fit into any single academic department; it is interdisciplinary. There is no history to time management research, which causes a dilemma for authors on the topic, because much of the research isn’t useful, and may actually be misleading.
Francis’ research shows that the way people develop the concept of time is not clear-cut. Studies show that children start developing the concept of time — for example, the understanding of “later”— usually between the ages of 8-13.
He tells me that his definition of a time demand is an individual commitment to complete an action in the future; this action is of unstated duration; they are psychological objects – thoughts, products of our imagination. We have a vested interest in not only creating time demands, but also in completing them. The pressure of not completing the actions, of not “getting things done,” stays on our minds and creates stress. We need to hone in on a “time horizon,” whether it be two days or two months. A thought is a time demand if it:
- Lives in our mind and requires some action and duration of time
- Is a commitment by us to complete the action, and
- Has a date by which we will perform the action
For those of us interested in optimizing our productivity, or, as I call it, our opportunities to achieve our significant results, Francis’s explanation of time demands serves as a useful foundation.
Have a Plan: Implementation Intentions
Francis discusses in his book research showing that when people develop a plan that includes when to do a task, the duration of time to complete it, and a specific time by which the task must be completed, they increase the probability of completing the task, rather than deferring it with an excuse, such as, “I’ll do it later.” Psychologists call this an “implementation intention.” I discuss this concept in my training in relationship to maintaining new productivity habits, but implementation intentions are useful in most any situation.
Francis Wade and I have different approaches to personal productivity, but I think his explanation of time demands is very useful. If you study productivity as a student, as a researcher, as an expert in the field, his book is would be a great addition your collection. Learn more about Francis at 2Time Labs.
I have a little update of sorts… After our interview and just before I published my book, I discovered the definition of a “conscious intention” by Drs Oullette and Wood. http://goo.gl/6j4GZv
In a paper called “Habit and Intention in Everyday Life” in 1998 they define a time demand long before I did. Unfortunately, they have gone on to study other topics and I have not found anyone else who has built on their research of conscious intentions. Too bad, because we create many more conscious intentions than we do habits.
Thanks Francis! That phrase “conscious intention” reminded me of an article I had read, and I found it. This perspective strays a bit from your construct of time demands, and it’s not academic research, but it still gets to the heart of “living a life of choice,” which I think is the results of regaining control over your attention (as I put it) and effectively managing your time demands (as you put it.)