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Frequently Asked Questions: Start Here

This book is about bringing peace of mind to your life. But first, you need to be at peace with this book. Let’s take a look at some of the questions you might be asking.

Why do I need this?

Not everyone needs the principles in this book. However, if you wish you had more time to complete your commitments, you’ll benefit from the steps I lay out in the chapters that follow.

You’re about to find the gaps in your current habits. You’ll be able to compare what you’re doing now with the best-in-class practices uncovered in the latest research. Plus, in the workplace of the future, it’s safe to expect increased demands on your time and even higher expectations. I will show you how to expand your capacity to meet these challenges and prepare yourself for a continued information explosion being driven by ever-changing technology.

Where do these ideas come from? Can I trust you?

While I have been working on these ideas for the better part of a decade, you’ll be able to separate my opinions from the findings of experts who have gathered empirical evidence from studies involving thousands of participants. While you read, spend time in the Lab Notes at the end to see how I arrived at key conclusions. You may even want to read articles, posts and studies from the references as you make up your own mind based on the evidence.

Can I benefit if I’m a novice (or even an expert)?

The reason everyone can follow the steps I’m about to share is that I will start with an assumption: you already know a lot about “time management,” and your knowledge is embedded in the methods you employ today. Perfect Time-Based Productivity will uncover this knowledge, giving you a unique, in-depth understanding of the “system” you use right now. You’ll measure your skills against world-class standards and develop a new improved approach that works to meet your needs, regardless of your current performance. Plus, near the end of the book, you will have the unique opportunity to compare your skills with participants from my live programs, providing you with a fact-based reality check.

Do I have to be a professional?

Not necessarily. This book is written for the knowledge worker who wants to use a “professional approach,” which I define as the use of research and science as a starting point, rather than individual stories, examples or anecdotes. Many of these findings are recent, so you’ll be exposed to the latest thinking from hundreds of studies. So, before you make any changes, I will show you the foundational reasoning behind them, giving you some confidence based on your knowledge of the facts.

Is this time management?

You may already know or suspect that time itself cannot be managed. The solution isn’t “self-management,” either, because managing yourself is an activity that’s inherent in all forms of management. Instead, it’s about managing tasks, commitments and priorities through the lens of a new construct we’ll study: a “time demand.” Using this idea will remove the frustration of trying to do the impossible – manage time – and the feeling of failure many have experienced.

How is this book different from other books?

This is one of the few books in the genre to rely heavily on recent academic research in multiple fields. Prepare to be informed by the collective wisdom of brain scientists, psychologists, industrial engineers, management theorists and adult learning experts. I also include a wide variety of stories that illustrate their findings. This diverse body of work has never been brought together into a single tapestry of knowledge, making the message of this book unique.

Prepare, therefore, to challenge the conventional wisdom. The end result will not be a new list of rules to follow, but a fresh appreciation of your available options and their consequences.

How can this book promise perfection?

It offers a breakthrough definition: being “perfect” does not mean following a particular set of habits, practices, rituals and routines flawlessly. Instead, it means playing the game of continuous improvement. You will learn to relentlessly change and tweak your habits to fit the increasing volume of demands you need to process and complete each day. This kind of perfection is tough, because most knowledge workers face changing circumstances: doing the work of more than one person, handling modern technology and dealing with more information than ever before. Perfection, in keeping with the Winston Churchill quote in the opening pages, is a dynamic balancing act requiring permanent vigilance. I’ll show you that some professionals are already there.

Is this complicated, and does it take a long time?

It’s not complicated, but it does take some time. By the end of this book, you’ll have learned a lot, and you will also have created a simple plan of improvement. This will help you take small steps to whatever destination you desire, helped along by your very own support system. While your improvement starts immediately, don’t expect overnight success. The methods you currently use to manage your commitments were developed over several years in fits and starts. Unraveling and replacing what you already do is not a matter of magic – it’s about applied knowledge (which saves time) and perseverance (which keeps you going). If you put in the effort as you read these pages, your reward will follow.

What can I use this for?

You can start by tackling immediate time-management problems or removing unwanted symptoms of time stress: both require skillful, self-diagnostic methods. On the other hand, you may want to accomplish a new target, goal or vision as you stretch your current capacity beyond today’s limits. However, if you are someone who is just curious about the very latest thinking, you’ll learn a lot about that, and also about yourself.

In all cases, you will discover there are physical, psychological and philosophical limits to accomplishing your daily goals while, at the same time, maintaining peace of mind. Unfortunately, the field of time management has experienced a growing trend of “I-do-it-this-way-and-so-should-you” thinking that oversimplifies the challenge of being productive. This book reverses that trend.