the profession of it
managing time, part 2
Masterful time management means not just tracking of messages
in your personal environment, but managing your coordination
network with others.
In a preViOUs installment of this column (March 2011) we took a new look at time man- agement from the perspective of personal productivity.
focused on practices you can adopt in
your personal environment to manage
your time well and productively. The
practices are tracking, selecting, executing, and capacity planning.
As useful as it is, a framework for
personal management of commitments is not sufficient for maximum
productivity. The reason is that you
depend heavily on others fulfilling
their commitments to you before you
can complete yours. Failures or delays
in the other commitments can block
your productivity, cause you to take
defense measures such as nagging,
and sometimes force you to find other
people to supply what you need. In a
personal commitment management
framework, you have no control over
these external factors.
Interactions with others are visible in your personal framework as
points where you receive requests or
issue promises. Seeing those points
is not the same as managing the coordination they represent. Managing
interactions is crucial for productivity of the entire group, not just you.
In this column we examine how the
large number of messages relating to
external coordination can produce an
information fog that can only be dispelled by teaching yourself to observe
the coordination loops you engage in
Information glut is an archenemy of
productivity. When the total amount
of information coming into your personal environment passes a saturation
point, your productivity starts to suffer because you can no longer make
sense of the information and find solid
grounding for your decisions. How can
you be productive when you must sort
through a lot of irrelevant, marginally
useful, or contradictory information?
On the broadest scale, the information fog includes all the information
you might come across in the Internet.
Some of that information is discretionary—you asked for it by searching
and then “pulling” search results into
your environment. Pulled information
does not seem to be as serious a threat
to productivity as “pushed” information—sent into your environment at
the action of others. Some common
forms of pushed information are:
1. Spam, ads, and phishing—those
who send it have no real expectation
you will respond.
2.Notices, newsletters, updates,
and carbon copies—others keeping
you informed: (a) because you asked
figure 1. Customer C orders from a catalog of provider P. to implement the main conversation seen by the customer, the provider manages a coordination network of loops staffed by
its employees and suppliers.
prepare order form
order from catalog
sent items to shipper
SepTeMBeR2011 | Vol. 54 | no. 9 | CommUniCations of the aCm 31