If you are reading this, you might wonder why I’m writing MasterList Professional in the first place. After all, there’s no shortage of programs – computer or paper – for tracking your time, getting first things first and project management. So why invest so much of my life in a YATMA – Yet Another Time Management Application?
The short answer is that Time Management does not work, never has worked and can never work. It’s a mirage that recedes as you spend more and more time looking for that oasis of calm effective productivity.
There, I said it: hordes of businesspeople are now preparing to beat me about the head with their leather bound calendars and PDA’s. But the fact remains that the traditional time management approaches fail miserably and worse, they lead to completely unnecessarily stressed out lives.
Planning to manage time is as nonsensical as planning to manage gravity: everyone here gets 1,440 minutes a day, everyday, no more and no less. Yet pick up any time management book or application on the market today, and that’s the focus.
Traditional time management combines focusing on the one thing you can’t change – time, with creating rigid plans of how to spend that time. For dessert, you’re advised to delegate as much as you can and work through your daily To Do list in priority order.
Well, Elvis has left the building, and my daily plan lasts up until the first hot email and I don’t have anyone to delegate “the hard stuff” to. How about you?
MasterList Professional is built on the premise you cannot manage time, only the value of what you do with your time. MLP is built around the twin ideas of giving you quick control over all the tasks in your life and quickly seeing how you can get the most value out of your 1,440 minutes a day.
Value Proposition ahead
In designing MLP as a task management application, I started with the approach that everything you do that needs to be written down belongs to some larger focus, has a value, a level of difficulty and most importantly, some rough measure of how much time is needed. That’s why every task in MasterList Professional has at least those four elements.
Then I added Metrics – the ability to be able to see the value of what you planned to do – is a key part of MLP. So too was tossing out the Daily To Do list in favor of keeping a manageable Current list of things not worth blocking time out for and a Scheduling tool – with manual and automatic modes – for those tasks, for those valuable tasks, that it makes sense to schedule time to get done.
Some tasks – the things that are going to make a difference in you life should get the full monty of task appointment and checklists; other tasks should be handled like President Bartlet in the West Wing: What’s next? MasterList Professional is build to support task management at either end of the street.
Like I said before, I do plan my days (“…plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” – Eisenhower), but I unplan them and replan them 6 times a day. Being a micro ISV who also does custom programming and sleeps, my priorities shift rapidly, and I’ve designed MasterList Professional to meet that need.
Another need is how to keep track of everything going on without spending all my time on tracking everything going on. That’s what the Project Overview on the Home tab and the Projects Overview Tab are for. And that’s why in all the task tabs you can have as many different Views of your tasks as you need.
One of my favorite saying is “Nothing is more useful than a good theory.” I hope my theory of task management turns out to be as useful for you as it has already been for me.