Time management is something that all of us could do better. Freelancer Chris Hardwick took on three popular time management/productivity books for an article on Wired: David Allen's "Getting Things Done", Julie Morgensterns' "Never Check Email In The Morning" and Tim Ferriss' "The 4 Hour Work Week". Of the three, I have read Getting Things Done. It's a very useful book, and the system is very hackable. I've been critical in the past of other time management systems that seem especially tailored to salesforce and executive level people, but leave tech workers, freelancers, stay at home moms, or anybody else in the dark unless those are possessed of a large enough imagination to adapt the system to his or her particular situation.
Chris spends 6 weeks on these three systems; 2 for each. I thought his journey was hilarious, and I'm tempted to leave him a comment on the article stating that he is my new hero. I'll leave you to decide which of the three systems might be worth trying if you haven't read the books. I must admit, my favorite part of his experiment was his attempt to follow Tim's advice about outsourcing.
Day 8 The next step: outsourcing! Apparently when you spend hours completing menial tasks, it actually costs you money, because you could be spending that time doing something more profitable. You might as well write a check to Failure.
The thought of my own foreign task force is instantly appealing. I find the virtual-assistant service Ask Sunday. (Readers: Mention "Chris Hardwick" to get me a huge discount.) For $39 a month I can make up to 15 requests—almost anything that's doable in 20 minutes. Here's what I send:
1) Please reserve a rental car for me at the Denver Airport. I'll be arriving next Wednesday at 3 pm and returning the following Monday at 10 am. Midsize car is fine, but it must have navigation system. You may use my Hertz #1 Club Gold number, because I am both a mover and a shaker.
2) Please find the closest Moose Lodge to Hollywood, California.
3) Please find a store where the Canon HF11 video camera is available near the zip code 90036.
4) Please list three types of monkeys that are native to Canada.
Within an hour I have my rental car, learn of two Moose Lodges within 8 miles of my home, get the address of a camera store with one HF11 in stock, and receive this:
Hi Chris. Per your request, I did an extensive search regarding monkeys that are native to Canada. Unfortunately, I could not find the required information within the allotted 20 minutes.
At least I didn't waste half of one of my own hours to learn that there are no monkeys from Canada; this way I was freed to learn what sort of extramarital affair Don Draper is flicking ashes on this week. Side note: I applaud Canada for outsourcing its monkeys.
Heh, that was cool. His final thoughts on 4HWW are:
Change in personal habits: I remain disorganized, but I now have a network of assistants looking up stupid shit for me.
That might be worth the price of the book.
I should note that one problem I've always suffered from with time management (GTD is famous for this among geeks) is spending more time "hacking" my system than actually using it to figure out what I'm supposed to be doing, then actually doing it. I find that sometimes we enable ourselves to procrastinate by making things harder than they have to be.