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Productivity: Time Management vs Focus Management. Myths, Theories, Practice

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Published on 25 Feb 2020
Artem Stenko

Product Owner

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Productivity: Time Management vs Focus Management. Myths, Theories, Practice

Preface

Two years ago, we started our project DueFocus. One of the main features of our application was the ability to measure developer’s productivity. With it, the developer has the opportunity to improve self-discipline and time management. High productivity and effective time management are the qualities of a reliable employee who focused on the result. I believe that many readers will confidently agree with our views.

However, the practice has shown the incompleteness of our views. We have been exploring productivity and time management problems over the past two years. 730+ days of 180+ hours per month have changed our team's approach to understanding productivity. Using DueFocus, we studied how the time leaks through rigid and micromanagement in detail. You may ask: “Where are the leaks came from?” The answer is quite simple: the rigid management is regularly disrupted by the necessity to satisfy management, stakeholders, business processes, related departments, your team, and yourself. Our DueFocus application had to simultaneously fit CRM, project management methodologies, and satisfy a dozen third-party applications. Besides, the corporate culture of the company and business processes led to the emergence of additional rules. These rules led to the emergence of additional useless fields in internal and external applications and tools. Every department and role in our company has its own set of fields and scenarios.  A large number of such fields in the future leads to significant losses in operating time for both the employee and the whole company.

Therefore, an attempt to satisfy everyone and the rigidity of the management result in a lack of flexibility, time-wasting, and low productivity.

Like us, many of you have experience with a variety of interpretations of the same project management methodology. This diversity indicates that no one exactly understands how to manage time and productivity.

If you are astounded by the last statement and you need proof, then here is the simplest negative proof. If we all knew the most effective way to manage time and productivity, then the management methodology would be one and only.

To sum up, we can say that no one knows how to manage time and, therefore, productivity. We only know how to assign task lists for a certain period with varying degrees of efficiency, and not in the best way.

Картинка

“I have a great idea! Have a look! It’s simple! When will it be realized?”

“The task is not simple, but it seems to be achievable,” an executor says so after a brief analysis of a problem/idea. But what if we want to get information, not about the fundamental feasibility of a task but its estimate? Sometimes you can wait too long to get the answer. And this is due to several factors:

  • Executor is inefficient

    • An executor is too lazy to dive into the task

    • An executor is located in a different time zone and may not even have woken up yet

  • Ineffective project management

    • An executor may be overwhelmed with other tasks

    • A manager cannot provide enough data to estimate a process

All this becomes an endless string of reasons to postpone the task. And this is only at the stage of task estimation.

That is why, after years of work with the time and its analysis, we aggregated four postulates:

Postulates:

1 Hofstadter's Law

It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter's Law.

2 Intellectual productivity is a myth made by the desire of a person (management) to manage his own and, more importantly, someone's time for his benefit.

3 Time management is not about managing time, but about managing attention over time.

4 Time is elastic.

Postulate #1

Let's look at a macrotask (project) in terms of dividing it into small microtasks.

When the next task falls on the developer, there will always be time to do something less priority. Poorly disciplined employees will attempt to fill their time with “junk” tasks, instead of those that require a lot of concentration and effort. As a result, we get that the employees seem to be busy, everyone has tasks, but they are wasting their time. So, productivity is not always equal to the amount of tasks performed, wasted effort on them and, thus, time.

When developers fulfill time with small tasks, they postpone the implementation of important tasks, which leads to a waste of time and a lack of progress in the macrotask.

The more employees choose tasks in this way, the bigger the time spent on the macro task.

It becomes clear that Hofstadter’s law is very reasonable.

Postulate #2

Productivity is a myth!

Such a seemingly bold statement has already become completely obvious to leading companies. We will dive briefly into the history of productivity.

Henry Ford left an incredible legacy!  An industrial conveyor led to the explosive growth of manufacture. However, it is quite simple to calculate productivity for physical labor. 

For example:

- a bad employee produces 2 wheels within 8 hours;

- an ordinary employee produces 4-6 wheels within 8 hours;

- a productive employee produces 7-10 wheels within 8 hours.

What about intellectual labor, which depends on creativity? The theory of creativity says: “There is nothing new. Creativity is the skill to match fixed concepts in a new combination.” The modern market of intellectual production requires us to memorize a large number of concepts. Besides, “new combination” requires to add several parameters such as:

  • Trend

  • Marketability

  • Recognition

  • Loyalty

  • Uniqueness

It is also necessary to take into account technical details that depend on the scope of intellectual activity.

As a consequence, it is hard to measure productivity metrics for creative tasks..

However, the situation with the lack of objective metrics does not satisfy both employee and manager. We always want to formalize objects and phenomena and to squeeze the incomprehensible into the framework of our mindset. In this case, some part of the whole is lost. These lost parts are often replaced by assumptions.

Management is about the effective utilization of resources (people, finances, etc.), and time management is about the effective control of time. Nevertheless, our understanding of time is limited. Time management is based on many assumptions about how time works and how to effectively manage it.

Nowadays, the brain is stressed by the endless flow of information. It is hard to formalize and describe its activity in the form of diagrams, graphs, formulas. A holistic understanding of how the brain solves problems is still not formed. So it is hardly possible to effectively manage an unknown process without understanding the mechanisms of its functioning.Let's look at the picture on a larger scale: a human is not just a tool, but also a person.

Let's consider Maslow's hierarchy of needs. We also take into account that a person works in a team and has social connections that directly affect his ability to work.

Apparently, effective management of the productivity of the creative process is hardly achievable.

Approaches to manage the creative process in a team.

Now we have to make a necessary derogation.  If, while reading this text, you have decided that the author considers management, in its current form, an ineffective and pointless affair, then I would have to upset you! Management is just pointless! Management is a tool that we are forced to use for a very long time until a new H.Ford will be born. A person who will create a new approach to the management of intellectual labor. An approach that will suit lots of companies with absolutely different activities. We think that the emergence of such a new approach is inevitable!

Meanwhile, we will continue to work with the use of agile, scrum, kanban, etc..

Let's take into account that every company and team has its own “special” understanding and vision of using these methodologies without considering any best practices. The implemented methodologies, alas, must take into account not only the best practices, but also the habits and “quirks” of the lead managers, social climate in the company, and the unwritten rules that have developed since ancient times.

Also, the misuse of the project management methodology and best practices is often associated with ethnography, working time standards, the attitude to rock star employees, and the uncertainty of a single story point. Don’t forget, remote teams celebrate holidays at a different time. These circumstances set us apart from what is considered to be best practices.

Although... In all these cases of deviations from best practices, management can always be blamed! And yes, this is sarcasm.

There is a common joke about what the modern development process is:

- What is coding in the 21st century?

- It takes an hour to write the code, and the rest of the time it’s just googling, refactoring and freaking communication.

Doesn’t this joke remind you something?! This is what the theory of creativity tells: “There is nothing new. Creativity is the skill to match seen concepts in a new combination.” 

So, here is a question.  Is it possible to increase the productivity of an employee engaged in intellectual labor with the help of motivation and incentives?

Motivation and incentives.

To answer this question, let's look at this situation.

Let's assume that we have a developer who performs the task of creating new functionality. 

Even if he successfully finished it, his work is only a small part of the project. And many more features will be delivered before the release. 

How can he understand how much work he has done, how important was his task? In other words, is it possible to measure his results and labor efficiency and show them to the developer?

After all, if you keep this parameter immeasurable and hidden from the employee, then he does not receive satisfaction from the result of his work. The only way to satisfy him is to show a metric of his contribution.

Notice, there are still 888 bugs lying on his shoulders, 999 urgent tasks with a high priority which leads to accumulated dissatisfaction.

The developer is like a runner who has just crossed the finish line in the first place. However, he does not even have time to receive deserved applause, because at the very next moment after he crossed the finish line, he should start a new race.

But even the release does not fully show a contribution of a single developer. Since it is difficult to divide the success of a new product-launch between developers, it is considered as a wise solution to celebrate along with the team.

If we cannot motivate the developer with objective metrics, then how can we exert a controlling influence on him?

Most businesses today choose carrots and sticks: a system of penalties and rewards.

In the 21st century, the relevance of ancient incentives in the field of intellectual labor is an "original" path to success. 

Years go by, companies get stuck in development or die at all, not realizing that incentives work poorly and only for a short-term basis. Moreover, for countries with developed economies and high living standards, they don’t work at all!

Experiment with motivation and incentives.

Let's consider the famous S.Gluckberg's experiment with “The Candle Problem”, based on the well-known behavioral task of Karl Dunker.

In the Candle Problem participants are presented with a candle, a box containing tacks and a book of matches. They are asked to attach the candle to the wall by only using the objects presented so that the candle can burn properly, and that no wax will drip on the table or on the floor. The participants usually have a time limit to find a solution. To solve this problem one has get the insight that the box containing the tacks can be used as a platform for the candle. One literally has to engage in out of the box thinking. See figure 1 for the

standard setup and solution to the Candle Problem. Note that if the tacks are delivered outside the box, the issue of functional fixedness is not as pressing (when tacks are in the box one has to reinvent the box as a platform). This fact was exploited by Glucksberg when he examined the effect of economic incentives. In Glucksberg’s experiment, participants were divided into two groups. Each group conducted a different variation of the “Candle Problem,” one in which the box was empty and the tacks were placed on the table (“tacks outside box” version), and one in which the tacks were situated inside the box (“tacks inside box” version). The participants in both groups were assigned either to a non-reward condition named “low-drive” (non- incentivized group), or a reward condition where they could receive $5 for being among the top 25% fastest solvers, or $20 for being the fastest, named the “high-drive” condition (incentivized group). A failure was defined as being unable to find the correct solution within the time limit of 15 minutes. In the “tacks outside box” version, the results were as expected; the group with the financial incentive performed better, they had a lower fraction of failures and a shorter solution time. The surprise came in the “tacks inside the box” version, this time the incentivized group performed significantly worse than the group working without incentives.

Thus, Glucksberg found that the conditional incentives “do something to get a reward” works well in cases if the rules are simple and the solution is obvious.

These experiments are more than a dozen years old! Despite this, the vast majority of companies working in the intellectual and creative field use carrots and sticks which based on hopelessly outdated principles and misconceptions about the impact of incentives. These misconceptions are rooted in myths but not in science! It's sad.

What are the alternatives?

Nowadays, we have to find solutions to complex problems. These problems are a mix of technical communication, creativity, and well-known approaches and solutions. Plus as researches show, the old-fashioned methods, such as the carrot and stick method, are not suitable for current problems.

Therefore, we discard incentives and give only motivation. We assume that if the performer likes his job, he/she has a desire to do it quickly, properly and efficiently.

AMP = Autonomy → Mastery → Purpose

Autonomy — Our desire to be self directed.It increases engagement over compliance.

Mastery — The urge to get better skills.

Purpose — The desire to do something that has meaning and is important. Purpose, as you can see, follows from the desire to be involved in something big and significant for a person.

Thus, traditional management techniques are suitable for making everyone walk in formation.

I would call this an army management in which the main points are discipline, deadlines, coordinated action according to the plan. But what if we want to ensure that a person of creative labor performs with passion and high efficiency? We should give him the freedom to solve his non-standard task. But this directly leads to the leader’s fear of losing control.

What is noteworthy, it is a common practice to allocate up to 20% of the employee’s working time to solve tasks that are appealing to the employee in the largest companies.

During this time, employees are free to do whatever they want without any supervising. They can work on tasks just the way they want it.

The aforementioned increases the motivation of employees, interest in work, a sense of co-ownership. Such practices are often lead to the emergence of innovative ideas, products, and approaches that positively influence the company's growth.

Moreover, science starts with pure curiosity! In ancient times, no one ever forced anyone to do science, people did it out of their own interest due to free time.

The only way I can get you to do anything is by giving you what you want. Dale Carnegie

“The deepest urge in human nature is the desire to feel important.” said John Dewey

Fear of losing control creates controversy and worsens the outcome.

A careful reader should immediately ask a question if I use micromanagement techniques in my practice. Whether I am a blocker of the essential and most effective work processes of my team or my company?  If you find the fear of losing control of management in yourself, then you should think about using advanced knowledge and practical scientific approaches!

Management could be considered from the perspective of HR. We hire people and pay them money for their experience in areas of activity in which we are not well versed in detail. After that we demand a result that we cannot always explain to them in their own language. The explanation often boils down to the “blurry and wide flight of our global thought” without the required level of specification. However, it is crucial for advanced performance. Furthermore, our expectations do not give enough time for the performer to analyze the task and to self-educate if the task goes beyond the skills of the performer.

Let’s look at it from the performer's point of view.  The performer always wants to show the top management or investors his importance and significant results. It will increase his self-importance and boost level of motivation. But the result can usually be shown only at the end of the development process, when a complete picture of the product is already visible. So, only in the uncertain future, the performer will be able to prove his worth, can be appreciated by management or investors and show his contribution to the “global idea and goal”.  

The particular result will be only in the uncertain future. But what do we have “now”, when there is no concrete, measurable, objective metrics of results? 

If there is a lack of measurable results “right now”, there are doubts about the full engagement of the performer in tasks followed by disagreement. 

Doubts of managers in the success of the task combined with distrust and disagreement stimulate managers to find alternative solutions in case of failure of previously set tasks in particular and the project as a whole.  The implementation of such "insuring" tasks requires additional functionality or functionality that is not compatible with the already chosen direction of product development and its architecture, which leads to a rise in the cost of the project and delay in delivery deadlines.

As we have already seen, the delay in the deadlines leads not only to the suspension in each performer's sense of the significance but also to the delay in obtaining concrete results and a clear, complete picture.  The latter leads to the aggravation of doubts about the engagement of each performer, reduces the general belief in the success of the project, undermines the dedication of the executors of the goal and directly casts doubt on the adequacy of the leadership.  Thus, the circle is closed.. Both parties (performers and leaders) do not get concrete results at the moment of " right now".

How to break the "vicious circle of disagreement"?

Now we know where the disagreements come from.  And it is the first step in making a tool. Let's determine what features the tool has to have:

  1. The ability to distinguish an AMP-oriented performer from a wrongly motivated or passive one;

  2. The opportunity to show that “I am an AMP-oriented employee.”

Recall what is our problem.

The question that raised doubts and disagreements is whether the performer was fully engaged in the implementation of the task? Does he spend time effectively?

Since the problem of engagement (not productivity!) during the period (a working day, for example) lies in the plane of time, then the answer is in the plane of time as well! The only problem is that everyone has not only his own idea of time and perception of time, but also his attitude to time due to differences in cultural values, specializations, beliefs that are difficult to give up.

In my opinion, one of the most accurate examples that show the attitude of man to time is remarkably described in the book "Eat That Frog! 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time" by Brian Tracy. 

“Your greatest asset is your earning ability. Your greatest resource is your time.”

From this perspective, you can measure the effectiveness of your life by calculating how much money you have earned and collected during your life divided by the number of years that you spent on obtaining this amount.

By the age of 60(in the USA), having worked for 40 years, the average annual income is $40,000, that is, approximately $3300 per month or $170 per day, or $20 per hour. With the deduction of expenses for accommodation, transport, food, services, we will receive approximately $1000 per month.

Now imagine that you would be told that the company is ready to hire you for $1000 per month and pay the cost of food, accommodation, services, and transportation. What would you answer? You would be furious at such an offer! But after all, this is how you will work over the next years until retirement!

Time is only one thing on the market that you can exchange for income and convenience. The question is how good you are as a seller. After all, it is not infinite. So, selling it at a lower price is not profitable and extremely stupid. If the seller does not monitor and has a lack of knowledge of his product. Then, as a result, he cannot give the buyer a guarantee of the quality.

In the high-competitive market, chances to sell your time at an affordable price are quite low.

Summary.

It is hard to measure the productivity of intellectual and creative labor efficiently.

The carrot and stick approach is completely ineffective and outdated. 

The best way to boost the productivity of an employee is to give him the freedom of choice.

Our fear of giving freedom to carry out tasks and the inability to measure “productivity” in the short term lead to a vicious circle of disagreement.

The most valuable resource that every person has is time. The quality of this resource can be measured only by the level of engagement in the creative intellectual process.

Postulate #3

Time management is not about managing the time it is about managing attention and engagement.

A lot of articles and posts about people who dive into time management were published recently.

The main idea of these posts is that these people are commonplace loafers who waste their time. 

Allegedly fans of time management simply do not find a better purpose for their time than drawing complex diagrams, tables and writing a dozen notebooks for every event. Their brain suffers from idleness, and they fill it with so-called "activity" that gives the illusion of a productive life.

The authors of these articles often proudly claim that they simply do not have time for time management because they work 10 hours a day. Moreover,  they recommend refusing it. They also advise that if you want to be productive, get a full-time job. At the same time, attend professional development courses and go in for sports. If this does not seem enough, then take up two or three third-party projects. In a couple of months, one of two things will happen: either you will run out of breath, or you will organize yourself, and you will never clog your head with nonsense like time management.

This sounds nice, but the authors of this message should realize that it is not a person's will to work more than 10-12 hours a day. It is a necessity and consciously chosen responsibility that cannot last forever. Why?  Because it will lead to unproductivity and occupational burnout much faster than you would imagine.

The completion of many tasks as possible is the main point of exhaustive time management. Juice the maximum out of today as if tomorrow does not exist. But I came to a different conclusion while studying my product (time). But this approach is not efficient for solving creative tasks. Luckily, we have Cal Newport with his deep work technique. Only in a state of deep work, I can efficiently fulfill tasks with a high priority which will deliver the major outcome.

However, I do not spread attention on smaller, but at the same time necessary daily tasks. This approach helps to maintain the AMP at a high level, and, in the long run, makes it possible to sell my key and limited resource (time) with the best price.

It is not necessary to maintain fancy tables and graphs that require lots of your attention.

Everything you need has already been created many years ago but still ignored by today's business.

For a better understanding of this section, let's oppose the well-known applied psychological researches and the hype modern techniques.

Any impulse or load requires a break

Every impulse or caseload requires a break. As mentioned above, man is not a machine and has a large number of relations, biological, and psychological needs. Many years scientists have been studying the operator's efficiency and the impact of rest on it.

If you shorten this vast topic to a simple conclusion, it will sound like this: "There are no useless actions during the execution of the task, there should be respite norms to maintain or increase efficiency in any repetitive processes. Respite norms depend on task duration and complexity."

Rest is not a waste of time

Let’s now consider this in detail.

A recent study at the University of North Carolina shows that the average productive period of a developer’s work is 1.5-2 hours. After 1.5-2 hours we can see a decline in productivity for 30-45 minutes, followed by growth. If you stay in a state of high productivity for a long time, the intensity of using a mouse and a keyboard increases. This is explained with an increased level of errors in decision making and the necessity to correct them.

Earlier research (DHHS (NIOSH) Publication Number 99-101, 1999) published by the Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health indicates that workplace stress has a significant impact on productivity. What is the ultimate source of stress? For developers, we distinguish the following:

  • Frequent change of tasks and their priorities

  • An undervalued estimate made by a manager

  • Urgent fix on production

  • A task beyond the competence of the developer

  • Annoying communications distracting from the process of immersion in a task

In general, most of these stresses are associated with poor quality processes in companies and a high turnover rate. Let's analyze a well-known report from The Business Roundtable “Scheduled Overtime Effect On Construction Projects” (Report C-2, November 1980).

The article examined the economic effects of reduced productivity associated with overtime work. For example, when a job is scheduled for 50 hours per week, a reduction in productivity is 28%. When a job is scheduled for 60 hours per week it is 36%. These results may not concern you only if you are a slave-holder or you do not pay overtime. Neither the first nor the second case, your employees will not be happy with such work, and it will be done even with worse quality than you expect.

Well, now let's move on to the modern cult of personalities and the propaganda of deep work. Cal Newport, the founder of deep work, outlined the basics of his ideas in several books, in particular in “Deep Work - Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted Work”.  Deep work is a solution search model. It is based on a complete elimination from everyday hustle and bustle, distance from the office, team, phones, or any irritants that may disrupt the performer. Such a detachment can last until the solution is found.

I am very impressed with this approach, and I would love to practice it regularly. However, my work has features that do not allow me to go into deep work when I want. Notice, the more features are already implemented in the production, the more high level tasks I encountered, for which I need to keep in my head all the logic of the application, a lot of interactions of individual functionalities, dependencies, and intersections. Also, the solution to many short-term operational issues does not allow you to step back and go into deep work. The process of solving many operational issues simultaneously is well described by Chris Bailey in the talk “How to Get Your Brain to Focus” at TEDxManchester:

“If you look at what allows traffic to move down a highway. What allows it to move forward isn’t how fast cars are moving as you might expect. It’s how much space exists between the cars that allows traffic to move forward. Our work and our life are the same way. ”

On the other hand, if there is no detailed operational engagement, then there will be a lack of information. In the absence of operational information, even deep work will not let you find the best solution and slow down its search. It means that the balance between deep and shallow work is crucial.

These are the same conclusions Tim Ferris draws, having conducted many interviews with millionaires, professional athletes and people known for their success. Almost each of them practices daily meditations or do-not-disturb sessions. Success is impossible without changing focus and taking the mental edge off.

The efficiency of this approach is also indirectly confirmed in modern studies (Psychosomatic Medicine: July 2003 - Volume 65 - Issue 4 - p 564-570, doi: 10.1097 / 01.PSY.0000077505.67574.E3): daily meditations increase brain activity, as well as increase the immune factor.

Thus, the alteration of caseload and rest is an effective approach to solve the intellectual and creative issue, as confirmed by both: researches in occupational health, and best practices of the most successful people.

These short (1.5-4 hours) time intervals are the most valuable. Our objective is to remove all distractions in these precious moments and direct attention to the implementation of the most priority tasks.

Let's get back to the management method that has been widely used in many companies and ask questions:

  • Why does management prioritize the quick fulfillment of tasks over establishing fruitful long-term mutually beneficial relations?

  • Why do employees of such companies have a fear of openly showing the level of their skills and involvement in work?

  • And, perhaps, the most interesting question to the reader and leader. What are you more interested in for the employee: to work 10-12 hours, but mediocre, or 4-5 hours but with full dedication and engagement?

Instead of draining out the employee, a more effective approach is to find the optimal work-life balance for one, taking into account the characteristics of his field of occupation and role in the company. A sense of equity and involvement in the company's ideas and goals could be obtained through open analytics for all parties.

Therefore, we have an established way of managing companies and scientifically based best practices. We can compare these management types in terms of “marathon” and “sprint”.(Baumeister, R. F., Vohs, K. D., & Tice, D. M. (2007). The Strength Model of Self-Control. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 16(6), 351–355. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8721.2007.00534.x). If you put pressure on employees, their efficiency will be high for a short period. In the long run, an alternative, scientifically based approach is, apparently, more beneficial.

It is easy to show that the execution of any task can correspond to one of the following approaches:

 

  • procrastination, then getting your shit together and closing the task in an hour under the deadline

  • dive into deep work to solve one complex problem

  • divide tasks by priority and perform them during periods of increased attention, alternating with periods of rest, which allows you to keep in mind all the details from the related tasks

Obviously, the first approach is not suitable for solving everyday tasks. The second method is suitable only for resolving global and complex tasks requiring a long time and a high level of concentration.

The third method is most suitable for employees of most companies. This method allows to cope with the flow of daily tasks, effectively using short periods of grown efficiency (periods of grown attention).

Our task is to determine such periods of growth and fall of attention.

There are cases when none of the above methods of accomplishing tasks helps you - if you delved into deep work so that you completely lost touch with operational data and your ideas are far behind current status.

In the meantime, our main product missions remain analytics of intellectual work and the determining of optimal work-life balance both professional relationships and self-management. Let's move on to managing attention and focus by summarizing the above techniques.

Summary

As it is shown above, it is not a big difference between deep work and applied researches in the field of psychology and the physiology of labor. 

The brain, like the muscles, needs to alternate the workload with rest: it gets tired from prolonged strain and needs time, as well as, attention switching, to recover.

The effectiveness of management, in this case, is narrowed down to the efficiency of attention management during the working day.

Individual and collective productivity critically depends on the ability to evaluate, prioritize tasks, determine the period of maximum attention.

It becomes clear that time management is not about managing the time it is about managing attention and engagement.

Postulate #4 

“Time is elastic” . 

We hear a lot: “I don’t have free time.”, “No, I can’t manage to meet friends. I’m busy today.”, “ Sorry,  I'll call you back in an hour.” The modern lifestyle makes us plan a busy schedule of important things. To satisfy this list, we often sacrifice our wishes because we act according to a plan. As a result:

“I want [your wish here], but I do not have free time for this”

Familiar?

Now imagine that phone rings and a voice suddenly tells you that your kitchen is on fire!

And your answer is: “I do not have free time for this”?

Ohhhh no! You rush to solve this problem instantly!

Where did the required time appear? Have you forgotten that you do not have free time ?! How did it happen that all things miraculously moved apart at your request, having divided into the past and the postponed future? 

This gives you room to maneuver at a certain point! Do you recall Crossing the Red Sea miracle?  Moses parted the Sea and led the land along the bottom, just like you suddenly found free time. Guess what magic is?  That's right. It is an ability to quickly set the priority of the OverPrio task!

It is the development of the skill that allows you to manage your time and focus on a specific task. This lets you use time properly. I am not trying to say that it is easy. To accomplish that you need to be able to analyze tasks, prioritize them, and drop non-priority ones. It can be achieved by practicing concentration and training your mind. 

Yes, by practicing! Our brain has lots of similarities to muscles: the more you train it, the easier to find the answer. Based on our experience, use the following flow to train your brain:

Start your day with a question: "What task has a top priority today?"

If you are a manager, then the next question: "Who can accomplish this task with the most favorable result?"

Plan your day in the following way:

Planning - 5% of the time

Solving problems with TOP priority - 60%

Operational multi-tasking with medium and low priority - 20%

Rest to respite focus - 15%

Before-mentioned prioritization will make the working day flexible enough to complete all priority tasks and not get bogged down in routine low-priority tasks.

Conclusions

The productivity of intellectual and creative labor is hardly measurable. 

Furthermore, the usage of the ancient methods of carrot and stick is outdated and inefficient.

You can accomplish productivity growth by giving the employee freedom of action in the performance of a complicated task.  Although the fear of providing such freedom and the inability to objectively measure productivity in the short term cause distrust and tension.

Personal and corporate productivity critically depends on the ability to evaluate, prioritize tasks, determine the period of maximum attention, and the necessary period to complete it.

It is clear that time management is not about managing the time it is about managing attention and engagement during a productive period.

Mutual transparency of processes and analytics are the objective metrics of engagement in the process of intellectual work. These metrics help to resolve tensions and concerns in the employee-employer, person-team relationship. 

Do not force employees to work 24/7 (non-stop). Success is impossible without changing focus and having a rest.

Remember: time is your most valuable expendable resource. The only way to learn how to save it is to analyze the time spent and develop the skill of proper determining, evaluating, and prioritizing tasks.

Mission:

What is the mission of our product? What for was DueFocus created?  What should our product deliver to the people?

We've started with a time-task tracker. Our main goal is to analyze mental work for determining its standards and establishing balance in the relations between the employees and the employers. We want to create a product that is useful both for teams and for self-management.

First of all, we want to provide personal AMP metrics. They will become a confirmation of employee skills.

Our main objective is to provide personal metrics of engagement, to determine the maximum focus and delve into work. We will determine the productive periods of deep concentration (deep focus), to identify distracting factors and unnecessary actions.

Our goal is to show a clear expression of the caseload of the project and the performer at any given time.

We want to identify the most efficient periods of interaction within local, remote, and mixed teams.

Our team wants, knows how and is going to build a smart application that suggests periods of rest and indicates periods when it is worth to focus. The application will adjust to all users individually.

We are positive that our daily activities form habits that impact success.

Duefocus will help to form the right ones.

We believe that there is a unified approach to manage tasks that allows you to work with maximum efficiency. It takes into account the psychology and behavior of a person.

We believe that we can come closer to solving the most significant problems of management with the help of ML and AI technologies.All we need is AMP innovators who are willing to join us.

Time is on your side with DueFocus.

Best regards DueFocus team