One of the most common reasons that people’s time management systems fail is due to complexity. Their system or tools are simply too complex for long term success.
This usually happens in one of three areas:
- Too complex for the task at hand
- Too complex for the user
- Too complex for everyday use
Tools That are Too Complex for the Task at Hand
We have been sold on complexity. Look at some of the leading time management solutions. Look at smartphones. Look at Outlook. Most of them are so bloated with features that the manuals can be inches thick. Most people will never master most of the components.
So, how did we arrive at the assumption that the more complex and feature rich a tool/gadget is, the more productive it is? Usually, this is the result of years of adding more and more features to such a product. Outlook and many smartphones are good examples of this. (This is why it took such a radical redesign as the iPhone to reset the phone industry)
When it comes to time management: “The simplest solution is the usually the most effective.”
Look for the simplest solution or tool for the task at hand. Sometimes a yellow pad is better for your todo list that some fancy PDA or computer program.
Too Complex for the User
Another area of complexity occurs when the tools are too complex or difficult for the person trying to use them. This is not an attack on the skills of the person, but rather a statement that people should use the tools that are comfortable and work for them.
If you are comfortable with a paper-based dayplanner, why would you try to pick up the latest wireless web-syncing gadget solution? It will only waste your time and frustrate you. And it will be sitting in a drawer somewhere in less than 30 days.
Stick with the tools that you are good with and suit your work style.
Systems that are too complex for Everyday Use
If your time management system is so complex that it is overwhelming, then it actually becomes a hindrance to getting your work done. Time management when done right is an enabler to action and allows you to get more done with less effort.
If you find yourself spending most of your day writing down “next actions” instead of doing things, then your system might be too complex. Time management is about organization, but it is also about action. Most time management solutions concentrate too much on the organization side and not enough of the action side.
What are your thoughts on the complexity of your time management solution?