I Have a Dream… for Time Management Learning

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bigstock-Crystal-cleanliness-5977937Recently, I got inspired by a picture that only exists in my mind’s eye – a new way to learn time management skills and solve problems in personal productivity.

It came in a conversation with a friend of mine who is an expert in a related field. We were talking about books – paper vs. electronic – and what users expect from each medium. You see, I don’t want my next book to stand alone, but to leverage all the online learning resources I have developed to help readers.

Of course, these resources are much easier to blend into an electronic book than a physical book. All of a sudden, the two appeared to be quite different in form, intent and purpose. Today, we see them as mostly the same, but in fact they don’t need to be. The preparation of a Kindle book is an entirely different process from one on paper, although they may start with the same content.

What they do share in common is the fact that they are doorways… but to what exactly? More… learning stuff? More experiences? More fun? More knowledge?

At that moment in the conversation, the Lord of the Rings (LOTR) movie popped into my mind. It was quickly followed by images of the original books, the sequels, online adventure games, wikis, encyclopedia and discussion rooms. From Wikipedia I have learned there is also LOTR music plus adaptations for radio and stage. Many people have written their own novels using the LOTR characters and/or fantasy world.

From one angle, LOTR is all about entertainment. From another, it’s all about learning. Someone who is a serious fan of LOTR has gained a deep knowledge about the world they have entered, and deepened skills such as story-telling, writing, movie-making, decision-making, improved reflexes plus others. The impact of LOTR on an individual can be quite profound.

But LOTR is not unique in this regard. Similar worlds have sprung up around Star Wars and Star Trek.

In the middle of the conversation, I used the word “Realm” to describe these combined worlds that combine fun and learning at the same time. Someone like me who has only watched the LOTR films has dipped in and out at a very superficial level. My learning hasn’t been profound. Others have gone much deeper and are actively shaping LOTR thinking.

My doorway happened to be the trilogy of LOTR movies. For my partner in the conversation, the books were her point of entry. Her nephews might play the games first, before anything else. Someone else might see a friend’s posts on Facebook and Like the LOTR page as a first step. It doesn’t matter… as long as you enter at some point and stay long enough to learn something.

What does this have to do with time management?

Well, during the conversation I imagined a Realm of time management learning. It would have the following characteristics:
– it would be a combined learning and fun experience. A blend of amusement park and college campus.
– there would be games of all kinds, some which reinforced learning and others that provided a diversion.
– it would offer the experience of solving real-life problems (but not be limited to this).
– participants would stay as long as they want, absorbing knowledge, advice, friendships, information, feedback. They’d also be able to contribute to others directly (via coaching) and indirectly (via new content).
– everyone who visits would know at some level that improving time management and productivity isn’t a one-shot activity. They could always come back for more as needed, knowing that the Realm exists.
– there’d be lots of free things to do, and high quality, paid stuff as well.
– it would be hard to leave, due to its compelling user experience.

The existence of this Realm would help sharpen the mission of 2Time Labs – to make learning and teaching time management skills fun, easy and engaging for everyone, everywhere.

Furthermore, this Realm wouldn’t be a single platform like Facebook but a set of independent but connected user-generated communities. At its best it would be respectful and inclusive, accepting that “what works for me may not work for you” and vice versa. Each person would be encouraged to learn whatever they need to learn at their own pace.

It would maintain the essential tenets of Time Management 2.0 – that every working adult already has a productivity system, and the best way to improve is to start with an understanding of what they currently have in place, set some new goals and close the gaps in small steps with consistent support.

These simple tenets are intended to include every time management and productivity book or program – they would all be welcome. Perhaps they could all be presented together in a way that thrills the visitor and puts them in a LOTR-like world in which learning is almost a byproduct of the fun you’re having.

P.S. Here are some references that speak to creating this kind of realm:

Thiagi’s 4-Door Model

Designing Non-Linear Learning