Release 1.0 has begun a new series of video shorts under their "Ideas That Matter" banner which is focused on time. In the first installment, Making Time Count, Esther Dyson presents a look at the next generation of tools for managing time. Upcoming segments will take a look at how at how we negotiate time and how time functions as a social object. Like just about everything Esther produces, there's bound to be something in the series to make you stroke your chin thoughtfully and make a "hmmm..." sound.
The thing that struck me in this first installment, which talks about OSAF's long-awaited Chandler project, emerging calendar standards, and the notion of social calendars, is how completely dysfunctional most of the calendars in the video are. I'm not talking about the software when I say that. I'm talking about the insane overscheduling flashing across the screen as people are shown manipulating their time - mostly in Outlook. If I were a less charitable sort, I'd call much of what I saw outright calendar abuse.
Two of my favorite productivity gurus - David Allen and Bill Jensen - offer sage advice that could help the people in this video get a better handle on how and why they're using their calendar and avoid having something that looks like the-405-meets-the-10-at rush hour traffic map. Seriously. There was one calendar that flashed by where it appeared that the owner was double-booked in every hour of every day of their week.
Allen, whose Getting Things Done system has helped countless people get a handle on their commitments (including yours truly) contributes to the conversation the notion of a "hard landscape". The only things you should have on your calendar, he advises, are those absolutely cast-in-stone appointments and meetings you have committed to attend. Don't fall into the easy trap of stacking up things you want (or hope) to accomplish on your calendar until you are absolutely prepared to get them done on that day and at that time. There are a number of reasons why this is such good advice but the most important is that looking at an overstuffed calendar is guaranteed to stress you out every time you look at it.
Jensen, in his Simplicity Survival Guide introduces a number everyone ought to memorize. Unlike Doug Adams' "42", Jesen's number might really be the answer to life, the universe, and everything - at least in terms of how you approach your time management. 1440 is the the number of minutes we each get every day. No more, no less. His entire Simplicity approach is predicated on maintaining a constant sense of this finite "time budget" we all have to work with and provides tips on how to assess the relative criticality of anything that consumes some of those precious minutes.
The video touches on some of the innovations being built to help with the complexity. Ray Ozzie talks about his proposed Simple Sharing Extension (SSE), a bisynchronous RSS-based subscription that would allow people to share and subscribe to data, including calendars. IMB's wAx activity management project is also described by researcher Thomas Moran. The video is available in both Windows Media Player and Real Player formats and runs a little over five minutes. It will definitely give something to think about with respect to how we can address the conundrum of having so much to do in those 1440 minutes each day.