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Continuous Reflection *Before* Time Management

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I recently reflected on my daily breakfast, and noticed that I didn’t really enjoy it. Swallowing two slices of bread, and one glass of juice, was just my way of getting through the morning without fainting. So I made a note to find myself more enjoyable things to eat.

I also recently reflected on how I make illustrations. And I realized that I sometimes develop a pain in my neck after drawing for an hour or more. So I made a note to purchase an easel.

And I reflected on how I use various tools, like Word, Gmail, TypePad, Dropbox, and Remember the Milk. And I realized that I know only a small percentage of what such tools have to offer. So I made a note to flip through their manuals and help pages.

There are many time management techniques available for people who want to get more done in less time. But I have a feeling that most of them skip an important question:

Is what you’re doing the right thing?


What if time management techniques teach you to run faster in a wrong direction
? What if they teach you to be more focused, and more productive, while working behind your desk? Maybe what you really need, before anything else, is an easel!

Last week I started my own Individual Improvement Initiative. (I’m shortening it to I3, with a capital I, so I won’t get into trouble with Apple.) Its first step is:

Follow (almost) every action with a reflection.


I now consciously reflect on the phone calls and meetings that I have. (Are they worth having?) I reflect on traveling and conferences. (Am I getting the best out of that time?) I reflect on my bookkeeping. (Can I do that in less time?) And I reflect on my speaking engagements. (Can I do them better?)

Each action ends in a reflection. It is the atomic version of a continuous improvement cycle. Act, Reflect, Act, Reflect, Act, Reflect… I suggest that, somehow, you work such continuous reflections into your daily busy schedule before adopting a time management technique that will make you go faster!

And now it is time for me to reflect on this blog post. (Because, I might be able to do better than this.)

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Published at DZone with permission of Jurgen Appelo .

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