Why We Need Better Evaluation Tools

Businessman brainstorming and writing notesRecently, a brainstorming session here at 2Time Labs revealed that at the heart of the processes created for learners is a single set of four steps. Together, they make up the acronym E-TaPS.

E stands for “Evaluating”, which is always the first step. It recognizes that you already have skills in time-based productivity (i.e. you are not a blank slate) and the first step is one of self-knowledge in which you gain an understanding of how well you perform an activity relative to some objective standard.

The dash “-“ is meant to signify a change in mode from self-knowledge, in the first step (which is past-based) to the creative frame of mind you need in the latter steps which are oriented toward the future.

Ta stands for “Targeting”, where the self-knowledge you gathered in the prior step is used to carve out some new goals, defined by new habits, practices and rituals. They give you an idea of how far you want to go in your quest for improvement. Of course, it’s possible to be quite happy with what you are currently doing – if so, a learner should stop at this point.

P stands for “Planning”, in which the targets from the prior step are laid out over time. The key skill here is to make sure that each successive step you plan is a small one, making it easy to achieve. Also, it’s important to spread out targets over time so that they aren’t competing for time and attention, leading to failure. The plan should almost seem to be too easy.

S stands for “Support” where you set up your environment to help you change habits during the course of your plan. It includes options such as reminders, coaching, a buddy system, support groups and other aids that make the difference between success and failure.

The challenge for you as a professionals who wants to use the E-TaPS approach is that there are a paucity of tools available for E – Evaluating. Instead, most books and programs in time-based productivity have focused on telling users what they should be doing, using the experience of the program designer or author as the dominant standard. They rely on your ability to mimic the habits, practices and rituals of someone else.

There are quite a few diagnostic tools, however, but the only ones I have been able to find are psychological – a bit like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI.) That is, they ask a series of questions and produce a summary at the end of one aspect of your personality. While these profiles usually offer interesting insights, they often leave learners wondering what to do with the information… other than just be aware of it. Making it actionable remains a difficult task. For example, I have known that I am an ENTJ on the MBTI for over 25 years, and have even taught programs that included its use, but it’s provided me little more than personal knowledge.

The kind of tools used in the Evaluating step I described above are always based on behaviors which are visible to the naked eye. They involve physical movement and are defined in a way that it’s unambiguous to the learner, who can tell in an instant whether they are doing an activity or not.

My new book, Perfect Time based Productivity, follows this formula, even though E-TaPS is hardly mentioned. So does my NewHabits Foundations and MyTimeDesign Plus training for the public, plus also my BabySteps workshop for time advisers.

The good news I am pleased to announce is that the latest version of the forms I have been using in the NewHabits and MyTimeDesign programs are both included in my new book – Perfect Time-Based Productivity. Furthermore, you can even access these forms without purchasing the book at the following link – forms from Perfect Time-Based Productivity. There is a catch however: these forms aren’t meant to be used by themselves, so if you start using them before the book is available, have fun, but some of them may be confusing.

So go ahead and download your forms, take a look at them and get a feel for how they work. They aren’t meant for one-time use, so I recommend storing them in a safe place after they have been completed. If you prefer fillable PDF’s, I’m hoping that they should be available within a month of the book’s release in early November. Just make sure that you have registered to receive updates on this site.

Happy evaluating!