Making Business Matter

E25 - Time Management Mastery with Francis Wade - Expert Interview

Making Business Matter
E25 - Time Management Mastery with Francis Wade - Expert Interview
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E25 - Time Management Mastery: Interview With Francis Wade from 2Time Labs

Francis Wade is the author of 2 books: Perfect Time-Based Productivity and Bill's Im-Perfect Time Management Adventure. He's the founder of 2Time Labs which he leads from his home in Kingston, Jamaica where he's resided since 2005. A graduate of Cornell University with a graduate degree in Operations Research and Industrial Engineering, he uses the latest research to pioneer the ideas comprising Time Management 2.0. In his consulting work with companies, he helps leaders remove the obstacles to employee productivity and greater profitability. He also works extensively with coaches, professional organisers, trainers, and consultants to apply the best thinking available to their client engagements. Today, we discuss time management mastery in more detail.
Francis Wade, Time Management Mastery
You Can Read the Transcript of Our Interview Below:
Nathan Simmonds:
Welcome to Sticky Interviews. I'm Nathan Simmonds, senior leadership coach and trainer for MBM, Making Business Matter, the home of Sticky Learning. We are the provider of leadership development and soft skills training to the grocery and manufacturing industry. The idea of these interviews is to share great ideas, great concepts and great ways these skills are being used to help you be the best version of you in the work that you do. Welcome to the show. Nathan Simmonds: Welcome to Sticky Interviews. My name is Nathan Simmonds, senior leadership coach and trainer for MBM, Making Business Matter, the home of Sticky Learning. The idea of these interviews is to be sharing great minds, great ideas and great people with you to help you be the best version of you. Today, I've got the pleasure of having a second, third conversation with Francis Wade, time management expert, guru, aficionado, helping to uncover some of those myths and fallacies that we come up with against our own time management. Nathan Simmonds: Short bio from him. He's a columnist. He's the founder and creator of the CaribHRForum, which is a volunteer-based professional network. He's a consultant. He solves tough productivity problems for corporations. He's an author. He's a speaker, and he is helping those people that think they're time starved. He's helping the busiest 1% get even more efficient in their day through his skills. Francis, thank you so much for being here. Thank you for doing this interview. Really appreciate it. Francis Wade: Thanks, Nathan. It's great to be with you and your audience. Nathan Simmonds: I'm looking forward to this because we had a really large conversation previously, and that just went backwards and forwards, and we got all these different ideas and concepts. It was a really fluid, flowing dialogue, and I'm looking forward to getting some of these ideas shared with more people in this moment. Francis Wade: Great. Nathan Simmonds: I'm going to dive straight into this because people... I'm not sure how much of the audience we have know you, so I want them to find out more about you, and then we'll dive into what you're good at, your areas of expertise and your zone of genius. First and foremost, why do you do what you do? Francis Wade: Whoa, that's a big question. I guess I've always been interested in being productive as an individual. Long story short, I lived in the United States up until 2005, when I returned to live here in Jamaica. So I'm based here in Kingston, in the hills over Kingston here in Jamaica. It was really the transition that I made back from the US to living in Jamaica that got me to this heightened level of interest. It had been a passing pastime, I guess. I had led courses. I had done training. And I imagined that moving back, changing countries from a developed country to a developing country, wouldn't be all that hard. And I was wrong. Francis Wade: I discovered that my productivity plummeted, and I didn't know why. So I went looking for answers. At the time, in 2005, I was Googling for things like how do you manage your time in a time of conflict, in a war zone, under stress? I tried to find, okay, when you change your environment dramatically and all of a sudden, you find yourself at wit's end because you're not getting things done that you believe that you should, where can you get help? Francis Wade: I couldn't find any help, so I started actually writing, blogging based on the insights I was having because I was struggling. And that was 15 years ago. That kicked off 15 years of very intense research, two books. I have a number of training programs. I have online training. I have assessments. I held the first Time Blocking Summit earlier... Actually, that was last year, yeah. No, it was this year. Sorry. Time is warping. I swear to you. The whole COVID business just has me like... That was this year. That was March. Geez. Nathan Simmonds: Great. In this circumstance we find ourselves in, everything is being magnified and funneled, and you're just losing track of stuff. It's been eight weeks now for us as a family in the situation. It's just gone in a blink of an eye. Francis Wade: It's amazing. Today is Monday, and this weekend I had the feeling like, "Uh, what day is it?" I was like, "Where did the week go?" It's this weird experience, and it comes from the changing of our behaviors and our routines. They've all gone up in the air. What we used to do and the way in which we did it has now been changed without our agreement. Francis Wade: So this is a little bit of what happened when I moved back to Jamaica. All of a sudden, I had to adapt these new behaviors, and I had to do it in order to be effective, and I struggled to adapt them. So I figured anyone who is going through a change like the one I went through, not necessarily from one country to the other, but someone has to move houses, for example, or change jobs, or has a dramatic increase in demands on their time, there's that period of struggle and sorting out as they have to put an extra effort in to change behaviors to deal with all the demands on their time. And it usually happens when there's an increase. So you take on a new project, or you have twins, or you go from single to married, or you buy a house. When these transitions take place, all of a sudden, the number of demands on your time increases, and you've got to find a way to cope. And that question has fueled my curiosity and my work for the last decade and a half. Nathan Simmonds: A phrase that I learned a few years ago was the thing that you lack is the thing that you need to give. It's a life mantra. It's that thing that actually you feel like you're lacking out on or actually it's causing you the biggest amount of friction, that's probably a clear indication that that's the thing you're meant to or need to be giving in order to bridge it for yourself as well as the local community and the people that need to hear that message as well. Francis Wade: Oh, yeah, definitely, we are summarizing my story. Yep. Nathan Simmonds: There's part of me that comes back to that stereotypical island lifestyle. So we talked a little bit before we went live about what does time mean to people? Did you find that as a transition from coming from an everyday metropolitan American lifestyle coming back to an island mentality, is that where the fiction happened, or what [crosstalk 00:07:11]? Francis Wade: No, I really wasn't living in a metro area. I was living in Florida. Nathan Simmonds: Okay. Francis Wade: So I wasn't going from New York City to... Although I imagine that that would have been even more severe. Nathan Simmonds: Yes. Francis Wade: It happens when people move from New York to Florida, or New York City to Florida. I believe they go through something somewhat similar. But what it was was partly because life in a developing country is so hectic and so unpredictable. So it was the move from regularity and high structure and high predictability to its opposite. So you take that all away and all of a sudden, things break, things don't work, people don't do what you think they're going to do even though they said they would. You're in an environment where your mind now has to think ahead three or four times further than it used to because you're now compensating for things that you didn't predict or didn't expect. So that causes you some cognitive load that didn't exist before. Francis Wade: Because the way I put it, going through working in the States was every day was the same. It was in some ways boring. Where I lived, life was never boring. This is one series of... If you're from the outside, it's exciting as all heck because every day something is disrupting what you think is going to happen that day that you didn't think would happen. Something unpredictable is going to happen. Francis Wade: So the unpredictability throws up more commitments for you because you have to know, say, okay, that person isn't going to show up. I need to plan to do A, B, C, D and E. So you are compensating for it, but what it works out to in the end is a heavier load. All of a sudden, you have more commitments than you ever had before, and some start falling through the cracks. Feelings of overwhelm, other things that tell you that something is not quite right. I call them unwanted symptoms, but they are signs that the methods that you're using are insufficient for the current situation. Nathan Simmonds: And I think there's something to be said that there's a balance of both of those things. There's that need for certainty and a certain amount of security, but if you have too much, life becomes very boring. And if you get any curve balls and you have no flexibility, you start getting serious amounts of anxiety and depression start kicking in because you can't deal with that flex. Nathan Simmonds: If you go too far the other way for the uncertainty, you're going to freak out because you go into a meltdown because you're constantly in freak out all the time, and you can't deal with the number of surprises that come with that. So it's having that reasonable balance between the two and knowing that they're going to flex and then having enough of the structure, the integrity in processes to then mitigate any challenges or hiccups or other things, and then taking advantage and being able to flex and move through them again. Nathan Simmonds: So for example, if you hadn't shown for the interview today, okay, so what could I have done with that hour instead? How can I use that hour that's still going to keep me moving forward with my objective and having that shift of perspective? Francis Wade: Right. Right, right. The cause may be varied with respect to what causes the increase in time demands, and few people know that when they take on a new project, or change of country, or have a child, or do any of these things, these perturbations. Few people know that my core behaviors need to shift, or my habits and rituals around the way I manage the demands on my time need to shift in concert with what's happening in my larger life. Francis Wade: Few people have where with all. We're mostly invisibly just reacting to stuff that happens to us. We don't know why, and we don't know how come, and we think it's because of this, and we think it's because of that, but we don't get the connection between the two. So people suffer. I hate to say it, and it's terrible, but we suffer. Things happen. Francis Wade: For example, COVID. So people have had this common experience, common/awful experience of going from a very consistent day at work where you got on the train and so on and so on. Pretty much most days were the same. You went into work, and everyone expects certain things of you, and they give you certain things, and they remind you of certain things. And, yes, it's time for the 3:00 meeting and.... And they have a certain pace to them. So you don't have to be the one thinking about what am I doing at 3:00? Because it's already programmed into your day because you're at work. And what am I doing at 5:00? I'm leaving. That's what I do every day. A certain number of environmental dictates have provided the structure for you. Francis Wade: So someone changes all of a sudden and they go to work from home without warning. Their boss sends an email, "You're going to be working from home starting tomorrow." So you roll over, you get up out of bed, and okay, you don't have to get ready. You don't have to break out your clothes anymore. A kid comes in and says, "Daddy, you're going to be home all day. Yay!" And you go, "Yeah," but you think you have a meeting, but you're not sure. The 3:00, is that still on? And then your wife says, "I want you to cook breakfast because I'm going out to the store." And all of a sudden, life has put itself on you, and you're left having to come up with a brand-new set of behaviors in order to be as effective as you were before. Francis Wade: So the structure has all changed up here, but few people realize... Say on the way home on the train after you got the news that you're not going to work the next day without warning. As you reflect, you're thinking, "Hang on. Johnny's going to be home. Wife is going to be home. Dog and the cat are all there. So it's Facebook, YouTube, a good book. Hmm? How am I going to change my behavior to be effective." Few people have that thought. It's not until eight weeks later that you're like, "I'm dying. When does work start again? Oh, my God, I can't take it." And they're going... and they don't know why. They don't get the underlying behaviors. Nathan Simmonds: Yeah. This is the thing. As we see with COVID, everything's under the magnifying glass. Everything's under that deep, thick lens, and we experienced in the first weeks people getting tired. People didn't want to start projects. People didn't want to do things. This was just the symptoms of cabin fever. But it's that part of your brain is making the shift to, okay, I might be doing the same work, but I'm in a completely different environment. And it's that primitive paleolithic drain that- Francis Wade: Reptilian brain. Nathan Simmonds: Yeah. Trying to process is it safe for you to do your day-to-day work in this new environment? So it's this constant push-pull, and you start getting tired. You're not making the solutions. You're just processing and surviving. Then as a result of that, like you say, you don't compute what it is you need to put in place until you're in it. But by the time you're in, you're then trying to drag yourself out of it. And that's the challenge. Francis Wade: Right. This would have been much easier if everyone had two months' advance notice, and there could have been a training that said, okay, here's how you manage yourself, what some people call time management. Here's how you manage yourself once you're home working every day. Francis Wade: If there was this nice period of transition, and reflection, and preparation, and training, it wouldn't be as harsh. But it all came about suddenly, and the expectation is that, oh, work in an office, work at home the next day, you should be just as productive as you were the day before. That's the invisible understanding. You have a computer, right? That's all you need. Well, we now know that that's not true. But there was none of that preparation given, and as a result, a lot of people are struggling. Nathan Simmonds: Yeah. I was going to say something controversial. I might have to edit it out later, but the fact is we did actually have two months' warning on this. Francis Wade: Oh, yeah. [inaudible 00:16:27] political. Nathan Simmonds: I'm just going to leave that one there for bit. Francis Wade: Don't want to get into the politics. Nathan Simmonds: The thing is what we've seen under this lens is where the gaps where. Can we work from home? What does productivity look like? What does this distraction in the office look like? And then talk about being able to manage, in floating speech marks, your time. Because we know that time is this really large entity, and in the grand scheme, you really can't manage it. You can structure it. I think you can strategize with it as an instrument, as a tool, but you can't manage it. It's going to do what it's going to do. Francis Wade: Right. Nathan Simmonds: What would you say are some good time management skills in accordance with the 13 principles that you've laid out? Francis Wade: Sure. Well, we human beings share a common heritage... that's not the right word... a common development when it comes to how we manage what we call time. We all have this developmental curve that's the same. We're taught the meaning of time at around ages eight or nine or thereabouts. So someone teaches us here's what time is, and we go, oh, okay. And we immediately start using it, as you said. It's not discovered. It's a construct that is taught, just like you said. Francis Wade: Very soon after, we create what are called time demands. A time demand is a promise that you make to yourself to do something later, in the future. Somewhat of a fancy definition of it, and it has psychological definitions, but the basic idea is that you make a promise to yourself. Children start to do that around ages 10, 11, 12 once they start engaging in complex goals, so goals that are more difficult than just remembering one piece of homework, for example. Or their parent says, "You need to start remembering to do this." So as children we learn, okay, we've got to create a time demand... we don't call it that, of course, but... to do my homework so that I can watch a TV show, so that I can have the chocolate cake, so that I can go to bed. So we start putting these things in our heads, sequences of tasks, and we start to manage the sequence ourselves. Francis Wade: These internal promises we discover very early on are very slippery, that if we don't pay attention to them, they disappear on us, and that's the nature of them, but later... not later on. Actually, most people don't know this, but psychologists called them psychological objects to distinguish them from physical objects and digital objects. A psychological object is one that basically you've made up in your mind, but you treat it as if it were somewhat physical in the sense that you can't touch it, but you want it to stay there so that you can execute the action later. Francis Wade: So what you start to do as a 12, 13-year-old is you develop this intention, "I'm going to create these time demands, and I'm going to follow them," because you realize that this is important to everything that you want to do in life that's more than basic. And you start to teach yourself behaviors. So most people aren't taught the behaviors to deal with time demands. They teach them themselves. They go through a period of trial and error, and as you can imagine, some do it better than others. As a consequence, some pass their... You guys still have GCE O and A levels? Nathan Simmonds: Something like that, yeah. It's been a while since I've been in the education system. Francis Wade: The name has changed. Back in my day, they were... Cambridge is what we took. Cambridge O and A levels were what I did in my day. And as a consequence, some folks do well in their exams and some don't. And they may be equally as bright or equally as talented or gifted, but somehow one was able to teach him or herself the 13 behaviors I'm about to describe with respect to keeping time demands alive over time. So in other words, they're able to fulfill their intentions, even if the intentions are six months later or a year later because they've developed more skill. Francis Wade: But it's all by luck because there's no class. There's no explanation. Even though this behavior permeates everything that's worthwhile in our lives as human beings, the irony is we're completely left to our own devices in developing how we do them. Some people teach themselves really well, some don't. Some end up in university, some don't. So it's absolutely critical with respect to life outcomes, your ability to teach yourself some level. Francis Wade: This is what I discovered in the first five years, 10 years of my writing is that that teaching... because self-teaching is so haphazard that you come away with some people who have really high skills, some really low skills. Most people have highs and lows in the 13 behaviors. They've taught themselves some really well and others, they don't even that they exist, so they're not using them at all. But they're trying to now engage in life without have a concept of what skills they have and which ones they don't. So then it's very confusing with respect to why is it that I always have this problem? Francis Wade: It's a bit like driving a car but knowing nothing about cars, and some days your car starts and some days it doesn't, and you have no idea why because you know nothing about cars. No one has ever told you or no one has ever diagnosed your car and told you, "Oh, well, the reason you have this problem is that you have a hole in your gas tank." And you go, "Oh, that's why it leaks. So it's a slow leak, and that's why some days it starts, some days it doesn't." We don't have that knowledge about ourselves. Francis Wade: So bring on something like COVID, where you spent maybe 10, 20, 30 years developing some habits that fit into your work environment. All of a sudden, you have to work from home, and because you don't really have any understanding about the way you manage time demands, working from home or moving back to Jamaica throws you into a complete tailspin, and you have no idea why things aren't working the way they should because you think they should. Nathan Simmonds: I think for the human brain, when you get into the growth mindset, the Carol Dweck element, is we get to a certain point in our life, you say there's these 13 behaviors that you've laid out, these 13 skills within time management... We get to a certain point and we believe that our brain hardens and it calcifies, and we can't do anything. "Oh, well, I'm just like that. I'm stuck like this. So I'm not going to learn ..." So there's a large portion or percentage of people that then don't go out and think, "Well, actually, how do I solve this problem? How do I [inaudible 00:24:19]?" And they get stuck in that. Nathan Simmonds: Whereas actually, with a little bit of that growth mindset, that acceptance or acknowledgement that there is novel plasticity, you can say, "Well, actually, I've got these seven traits at this level. I've these ones at this level. Okay, if I work on this one, all of a sudden, my day gets easier." We need to look for the solution. Francis Wade: Right. Right, right, right, right. My observation is that the 13 behaviors are, just as you said, very plastic, and they behave like any other habits that we have, that the continued repetition does build up a certain... Your brain adapts to the behavior, yes. But if you believe that you can change and you go through the steps of bringing in a new behavior change, then they are absolutely amenable to change. And I'm sure people are realizing that now. People are saying things like, "I never thought I could work at home with the kids in the same building, but I figured out how to do it. So I've learned the skill of doing that." Nathan Simmonds: They didn't have a choice. Francis Wade: Well, in this case, I had no choice so I had to. So they're discovering, oh, maybe I'm more flexible than I thought. I guess some are, and I guess others are hating every moment of it and can't wait to get back to doing real work. I imagine that some are still stuck. But I love that book. Nathan Simmonds: But for those that are still stuck, it's helping them to get that nudge to say, "You know what? We're going to be in this for potentially a few more weeks. This isn't going to be the last time this happens. They pulled the lever once. It means they can pull the level again if they need to." We have the structures in place, so it might just happen again. And it's quite possible that we will go back to this state if the world needs to. Francis Wade: Neighborhood by neighborhood perhaps. That's what the talk is at this point, right, is that they could lock down. If they have a spike in a particular area, they could lock it down, and you go right back to social distancing and... Nathan Simmonds: Yeah. Francis Wade: Yeah, definitely. I hope it's been a wake-up call for folks that they may have inadvertently come to rely on the consistency or the structure of work in the office, and the truth is that was just all made up. It was all a convenience that was not quite designed by most people. It was just something they fell into rather than something that they chose knowing that they had other choices. Nathan Simmonds: Sorry. Hold on. Let's stay the course. Thirteen behaviors, give me the breakdown because I want to see how you can give this to people that are going in and out of this, and they're not quite sure where to shift something. What are the 13 behaviors that are going to help people get a better grip or a better handle on what's going on? Francis Wade: Sure. I've broken them down into seven fundamentals, five advanced and two executables. This is all described in my book, by the way, Perfect Time-Based Productivity, which you can find on Amazon [crosstalk 00:27:22]. Nathan Simmonds: There will be a link below where you said that. So you just make to go to the link and I'll include it in the video captions. All right? Francis Wade: Great. And the assessment I will mention later covers all 13. Francis Wade: The essential fundamentals have to do with how do you manage time demands directly? A time demand is created when you make that promise to yourself, and the first thing that happens is what's called capturing. Capturing is saving it for later in some way. Most people are taught to save... not taught, but they teach themselves to save time demands in their mind. They capture them in their mind using what's called... Psychologists call it prospective memory. Francis Wade: Some time passes, and then later on they do what's called emptying, which is moving the time demand from the point of capture to a place where you can now do something with it. So it's a little bit like promising yourself to pick up the groceries tonight, and then on the way home as you're driving, all of a sudden, your memory pops in, "The groceries!" So that's the point of emptying. That's accidental emptying, the kind you don't really want. You prefer to have a plan rather than to just go by the seat of your pants and have things pop in and out. But emptying is the second fundamental. Francis Wade: Then there's acting now, which is acting on a time demand immediately; storing; scheduling; and listing. And those are the seven...two, three... storing, scheduling, listing. Yeah, I covered them, no? Yeah. Oh, sorry. Then there's tossing. Tossing is getting rid of a time demand. So these are the seven basic or essential behaviors that we've taught ourselves. To keep time demands in existence, we need to engage in these seven. And as I said before, we teach ourselves these seven and teach ourselves in varying degrees of success. So everyone, therefore, has a profile of you could be really good at capturing, really weak at emptying, really good at tossing, really good at storing, and so on and so forth. Francis Wade: So we're walking around. It's a little bit like an invisible profile, unaware of how well we do across the board. It's a little bit like you're walking around not knowing your blood pressure, not knowing your sugar levels, not knowing some key elements of your biological make-up, except, of course, this has to do with self-taught behaviors. So the genius is that we taught ourselves some levels. Everyone has a level. I've not met someone who doesn't do something at all. It's just that they may do it at this very rudimentary level that's not sufficient. Francis Wade: For example, a CEO I met was capturing at this very basic level. A very, very smart person who went to one of the top universities in the world, but somehow taught himself to try to remember all of his time demands without using any external devices like a smartphone, or a planner, or his secretary's memory. And as a result, in the middle of meetings, he'd remember things that he was supposed to be doing other places, and he'd just dash off. And he had the freedom to do that because he's the big boss, but it was extremely ineffective, and no one had said to him this is a lack of a skill that's causing you all of this agita. No one had ever said it to him. He didn't know. Nathan Simmonds: You need that self-awareness in that reflection piece. I'm reasonable good at capturing. I'm not great, and I know that occasionally things fall through the net. But then the thing is for me is that scheduling and that acting now, I know that's my big thing. Everything to me is the priority. So making sure it's going to get done at the right time and making sure that it is coming to the top of the list at the right time and is also urgent and important and all those things, you have to have that self-awareness. And then you've got things in place to manage it, whether it is just a simple to-do list, whether it is using your Outlook and color coding your Outlook to make that stuff work better so you can see it, and you know who's time is what in what part of your day. Francis Wade: Right. The only word I would challenge you on is the word simple. Because we don't put together simple things when we don't know what we're doing. We put together bulky, difficult, tricky... Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't. But for most people, this is all invisible and they are unaware. They're not designing with a fully aware... This is not an adult designing something. This is an adult who is doing what a 14-year-old decided to do, or a 13 or a 12-year-old. So you take what a 12-year-old teaches him or herself, and you scale it up to an adult life with way more tasks that have to be managed, and that's where you get all kinds of problems like overwhelm and the problem with the CEO. Francis Wade: So the lack of awareness is the Achilles heel in this case. It's the fault. It's the point of fault. Because when you don't know what you are doing with that level of clarify, then you won't be able to improve it. It's a little bit like if you don't know how a car works, and your car doesn't start in the morning, but you know how to change the tire. So you change the tire on the car and you try it again. But changing a tire doesn't cause an engine to turn over any differently. But if you have no clue as to the workings of a car, you might think, hey, let me try that because I know how to do that. Nathan Simmonds: Yeah. Well, like I said, that comes down to that Einstein quote, "You can't solve the problem with the level of thinking that created it." Francis Wade: Right. Right. The 12-year-old thinking isn't sufficient for a 30-year-old life, and that becomes apparent. For me, it became apparent when I moved back to Jamaica. So in 2005, the system I had even put together as an adult up to that point was fine for life in Florida, and it was insufficient for life in Jamaica. Nathan Simmonds: And it's good that you get that awareness. Then you get to put it under the lens, under the microscope. You have a look at it, and then you get to scale it, and you get to put it in front of the telescope and then see how far it can help you and help other people. That's the important part. Francis Wade: Right. That's the important... is bringing adult-level analysis to something that's been with you since about the age of 12 [crosstalk 00:34:37]. Nathan Simmonds: One thing that pops up in my mind is at MBM, Making Business Matter, we talk about Sticky Learning. We teach people. We learn to learn. We go through all the behavioral mechanisms that help the stuff to stay in. Because some of the key things that we don't learn at school is, one, how to learn. Actually, if you learned how to do that, I think there'd a lot more ideas flying around the universe more readily available. Francis Wade: Right. Nathan Simmonds: How to manage your time. No one gets taught that, how to structure. How to take notes. No one ever gets taught how to take notes. It's important when you're at university. And some of those key elements actually you do the best that you can with the best that you've got. That may be 12 or 13 years old. You don't want to ask any questions in case you look stupid in amongst your peer group because, okay, no one else is mentioning it, so maybe I should know this. But no one said anything, so I don't say anything. Francis Wade: Right. Nathan Simmonds: And then you wear that self-taught belief for the rest of your life and then wonder why you're scheduling, or your emptying, or your capturing, or your tossing is all over the shop. Francis Wade: Well, you would even have the language for it, right? Nathan Simmonds: Yeah, no. Francis Wade: All you would know is that you're feeling pressured, or that you're forgetting to do things, or that you're always late, or that people realize that you're a flake, so they stop asking you to do things that are important. They give you the trivial stuff because you can't manage it. You know the symptoms because they're happening in front of you, but the causes are all invisible to you. And you retire and you never really know why the guy who you went to primary school with became a CEO and you're a first-level supervisor. You don't really know why it ended up differently. And sometimes it has to do with what we're talking about here, those core behaviors. Nathan Simmonds: So what are the next ones? Because these are the first seven. These are the essential seven. What's the next line? Francis Wade: So the advanced are interrupting... Wait, I'm not going in order. I like to do it in order each time so that I don't forget. I remember: Interrupting, warning, reviewing, switching. So seven and four, 11. Yes, those are the four advanced. And then there are two executables: Habiting and flowing. Francis Wade: So the four advanced, switching is what you do when you get to the end of a task and then must decide what to do next. So that's a skill, figuring out the next best thing to work on. To use the word simple, I wish it were simple, but as the number of time demands goes up, as you start to increase the number that you're trying to manage... Again, this is not a problem for a 12-year-old who has one thing to remember, which is I have my math homework tonight. They have one thing to remember in life, and you don't need anything complex. But as you scale and as life becomes more complex, you need something more robust, and you start to pick up your skills. Francis Wade: One of the skills that everyone picks up is switching. Everyone switches from one task to the next. Some do so very badly and end up lost in Facebook or Instagram, or end up taking a nap whenever they can, or end up taking a drink because this is all too much. I've got a whole [inaudible 00:38:09] liquor as I want. So they develop their own way of doing it. Then others, at the highest, very high, level with standard commitments, they'd look at the plan they made for the day. They would ask is that still appropriate for me to work on? Is that still the best thing for me to work on? And nine times out of 10 it is, so they go ahead and they follow their plan. Switching. Francis Wade: Interrupting is the skill of stopping whatever you're doing so that you can start something new before it's finished. So if you could imagine a secretary or an admin who taps you on the shoulder and says, "I know you're working on that podcast and we are deep in it, but your wife said that you need to go and pick her up at the train station in 15 minutes." And you go, "Oh," because you were so lost in what you are doing. You were so deep in the flow state that you weren't keeping track of time. And you don't want to keep track of time. Francis Wade: Ideally, we would all have this super enabled admin assistant who takes care of everything for us. Ideally, you would have that person. There are very few people who have that person, and a few of them who use that person very well. There are some good studies that show that executive productivity is entirely related to who that person is. In some companies, they randomly assign you someone who could have been hired last week. In some companies, it's a joke. If you get somebody good, good luck because they don't put any thought into who should be your admin. And that person doesn't realize that you do need to be interrupted sometimes and stop what you're doing to go start something. So that's interrupting. Francis Wade: Then there's warning, which is setting up an internal system that tells you when your time management system is about to break. For example, my inbox is my warning system of sorts. When it gets above a certain level, I realize that I'm falling behind. So I now need to stop everything, go in and then... So it's an early sign that I need to improve some behavior because if it persists over time, I'm going to get into trouble. Francis Wade: Then reviewing is actually looking back at your time management system periodically and your tasks. People say it should be a weekly review if you follow David Allen, and you should look at all of the tasks that you have committed to for that week. So this morning I did a weekly review where I looked at, okay, here's the big deliverables for the week. Here's my schedule for the week. Here are the projects that I'm working on. Nothing fancy. Nothing that anybody else isn't doing, but that regular review of your tasks and your system is one that keeps you above water. So those are the four advanced fundamentals. Nathan Simmonds: As you know, I'm happy to hear that because that's something that we are doing. Now on a Sunday night, my wife and I review what's going on so she's aware, especially now- Francis Wade: Especially now. Nathan Simmonds: ... where I'm going to be, how I can be helping in the house, if there's childcare arrangements so she has a flavor. So she knows that I'm going to be doing an interview now until 6:00. She knows that this is coming. She knows when to expect me to be interacting with the family group. So it gives other people that security and certainly [inaudible 00:41:32] so you're not getting interrupted by children or significant others. We're doing that on a weekly basis. Nathan Simmonds: I do it on a daily basis just to get a flavor of what's coming into tomorrow and then mentally compartmentalizing that stuff the day ahead, the night before. So I'm already putting stuff into the subconscious and solving a few problems before I get to the day ahead. I'm building that skill. Francis Wade: And previously, you were probably... not necessarily you, but someone who commutes to work, for example, used to do their review on the train, or on the bus, or on foot or however they got to work, in the car, that's when they did their review. You take away that time, and they don't even realize that that's what they were doing necessarily. They just have a feeling of being rushed, and they can't explain why. They don't want to talk to their spouse the night before because, "I don't want to do that." But they don't get that when they sit down at 9:00 a.m. in front of their computer in their makeshift office that they are totally unprepared to execute the day with any effectiveness. They can't see themself and how their productivity has fallen in this new dispensation. Nathan Simmonds: You said that the thinking and the pattern is there, but the environment has shifted, and they forget because they're no longer in that environment. And in truth, and I know I say to people, is no, you are not defined by your environment. You define your environment by what you put into it. So if you remember, actually it's the skill that you're displaying, a behavior you've already got. It doesn't matter whether you're on the train or on the toilet. It's still the same skill set that's going to get you that focus in order to deliver the result you need to get to. Francis Wade: Basically, this is back to what you said about Carol Dweck's work and the growth mindset versus the fixed mindset. If you don't have the growth mindset, you'll just think life is doing it to you. You'll think that. You'll really believe that you are doing the best you can and that's it, and it's life that has changed, and life needs to go back to the way it was because you don't see your own agency. This is why her book and her distinction is so important and cannot be taken for granted. It's just that most people don't extend her thinking, if they have heard it, to the behaviors they taught themself when they were 12. They don't know think, oh, hang on. This applies to 13 behaviors as well as how well I do my public speaking, for example. It doesn't go all the way into those behaviors, so they don't see that they have a choice. Nathan Simmonds: All of a sudden, I've become a different person just because I'm at a different location [crosstalk 00:44:21]. Francis Wade: They don't get that. Again, if you had two months to prepare. Real two months, not like... But then the last two fundamentals are what I call... I changed the name on them, and I call them executables. They are flowing and habiting. Francis Wade: Flowing is what you would expect. It's getting into the flow state. It requires interrupting as a skill. The two need to go hand in hand because if you're going to go into the flow state consistently, you need to find a way to come out of it. Otherwise, you'll lose track of time and spend every day on just one thing that occupies your mind completely. The best flow state, when it occurs, you lose track of time and you feel as if you are doing your best work. And you might be. It's just that the dog needs to be walked, and the garbage needs to go out. There's things that need to get done. You do need to be interrupted. Francis Wade: So flowing is a skill in and of itself, the ability to enter the flow state at will. It's a term that was coined by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, but I've also incorporated some of the ideas from Anders Ericsson, who speaks about deliberate practice, and Cal Newport's book on Deep Work seven, incorporated them all into the same kind of highly focused practice. Francis Wade: Then the final executable is habiting, and there are a bunch of good books going around right now about the importance of habits and creating new habits. So I've not tried to reinvent the wheel. I've just said habiting is the skill of consciously creating a new habit, putting it in place, or consciously identifying a habit that's not working or a behavior and then changing it. So it's the ability to change one's repetitive behavior. Call it habiting, for want of a better word. Nathan Simmonds: Yeah, it goes back [inaudible 00:46:23] doing that review piece. It was reviewing your own time management structures, does it work? Interrupting it, so actually interrupting the flow of your own time management system if it's not serving you, and then switching it, getting rid of it and putting a different one in there is going to benefit you. And that might be just a one-degree shift or a small tweak or small adjustment, but it's enough to keep that brain plasticity going to actually make the improvements through the rest of that structure for yourself. Francis Wade: Right. And I use the term switching and interrupting around time demands, just to be clear. So it's the execution that I use it around. But you could apply it there in the other way metaphorically because you do need to on a grander level, at a higher level. You do need to interrupt what you're doing. Review it, interrupt it, switch it, and then hit another level of flowing with it. It's a higher level than I use, but yes. Nathan Simmonds: I'm seeing the same language that you're using, the reapplication of that process to make sure that your time management and strategies are in place. It's the same language to take it apart and actually make a better one at the same time. Francis Wade: That's exactly right. If you have the growth mindset, once you've done an assessment, then you realize that your skills are here, here, here, here, here and up and down. Well, how come? I don't know. You were 12 years old when you decided, but this is where you're at. And then as you look at it, you say, well, okay, maybe this explains a few things. And then the question is, where do I start to make the improvements? That's not a simple question at all, and that's where very few studies have taken place. Most of the training that occurs today, if you take a popular training like GTD, basically, David Allen took his profile and said everyone should just do what I do. Basically, he just came up with a number of fixed behaviors and then wrote his book and said here's what the fixed behaviors are that I used, and everyone should use them. Basically. Francis Wade: And you know what? For many people, that was great. You're telling me exactly what to do. But for a lot of people, particularly today more than when he wrote his book back in the day, people are listening and they're like, "Hang on. But why should I do it exactly that way? Does that suit my needs?" Francis Wade: So when I did my own analysis, I discovered over time that your system allows you to handle a certain volume of tasks. It's a little bit like having the right shovel, or the right trowel, or the right earth-moving equipment. They all move earth, right? And if I called you and said, "Listen, I'm going to be some digging tomorrow. Bring over some equipment," and you got the message at 6:00, and you're supposed to come over at 7:00, you'd be like, "When he says equipment..." If you're someone who has access to everything from a tractor to a hand shovel, you're like, "Did he want me to bring my tractor with the front end thing that moves the dirt, or does he want me to bring a couple of hand shovels? Are we potting plants, or are we building a foundation for this place that I know he's working on?" Because they all move the earth, but they're all meant for different volumes of dirt. Francis Wade: In the same way that our systems... A 12-year-old system is meant to manage homework and that's it, and even then, your mom is there saying, "Hey, where's your homework?" She's there to remind you every day, so you don't even need this system to manage. You don't have too many demands on your time, so you really don't need anything complex. So what you develop is something suitable for your 12-year-old life. Francis Wade: Fast-forward to when you're 35, and you've just had a couple of kids, you've moved, you just got promoted, you have a big project, you've taken on something in the community, one of your parents isn't doing well health-wise, and as you go to bed at night, your mind is racing with all the things that you're trying to... So you're using the same skills as you did when you were 12, and now you're... Because the system that you now have is not meant to manage the hundreds of tasks that you need to be juggling all at the same time to make sure that none of them falls through the cracks. In other words, you need an upgrade. Francis Wade: So people look at their profiles and say if I need an upgrade, where do I start? So my car doesn't start, where do I start? And the answer to that question takes some skill and some diagnosis. This is where it gets more tricky and more challenging. Nathan Simmonds: Well, the thing is with the car analogy, you can go and have a look under the bonnet yourself and you can guess some stuff; or you can get the Haynes manual and try and work it out, which depending on where you are technically, that's what mother is; or you can speak to your dad; or you can go and see the mechanic. It's all these different... or you can go to automotive [crosstalk 00:51:45]- Francis Wade: YouTube. Nathan Simmonds: ... YouTube, learn the skills, all those things. We've got these opportunities, but again, it comes back to that self-reflection piece. Now one of the things I was going to ask was what is time management and why is it important? Now, like I say, it's having that structure so that you can manage all these demands that we see, all these psychological objects that we've got, all the places we think we need to be and are going, et cetera, and being able to construct and compartmentalize and put things in that order. If we don't have that and we're using that 12-year-old model, that's not going to work for where we need to be. Francis Wade: Hence the need for that self-reflection that you were saying. Nathan Simmonds: Yeah. Francis Wade: Some argue that it's not a case of self-reflection. It's just a case of mimicry, that it doesn't matter what you currently do. Just copy something that somebody else does. That's a valid line of reasoning, and most books and training basically say don't worry about what you do. Forget all of it, just pick up what you're being told to do. Francis Wade: Now the reason that doesn't work goes to the science of learning. So that goes to pedagogy versus andragogy. So if your listeners aren't familiar with the difference between the two, pedagogy is the kind of teaching that applies to children who are picking up a concept for the first time. So a child who hears algebra for the first time won't have a way of solving algebraic equations before. This is going to be brand new. So there's a way to teach children, usually children, something that's brand new. Francis Wade: That's very different than teaching a 35-year-old the capturing that they've been doing since they were 12. Now you've got to account for... This is why andragogy, which is the teaching of adults, people who are already competent in something to some degree... Now you've got to teach them how to learn about themselves because, unfortunately, here we're talking about behaviors, habits and routines that don't change instantly unfortunately. So if you're a very low skill in capturing, and I tell you what the very high skill is, you may immediately reject it because you realize that I'm never getting there. Because changing your behavior is going to take years to get to that very high level. It's not going to happen quickly. Nathan Simmonds: But it's to understand the benefits of getting there. So look, this leads me into my [inaudible 00:54:20] question. You covered these 13 elements of behaviors. We've given some headlines to these people. We've talked about the necessity for novel plasticity and the self-awareness that's required. Francis Wade: Carol Dweck, don't forget her. Nathan Simmonds: Yeah, Carol Dweck, being out at the same time. Francis Wade, he's got this book. He's got these 13 behaviors, and now if we can go with that Carol Dweck and get that novel plasticity and then dive into these 13 behaviors, we can shift the way that we manage our chronological workloads. That would be an astronomical learning to take away from this interview. Nathan Simmonds: The ultimate question, how do you make behavioral change stick? Francis Wade: Ah, so I'm not a full-blown expert at that, but the piece that I have focused on is the piece I mentioned before, which is that using an andragogical approach when you're teaching someone who already has a skill and they don't know they have it, you've got to bring them to the level of awareness about what it is that they're doing. You've got to show them why they do it. You've got to break the bad news to them, if there's bad news, that they're not doing it at a level that's commensurate with the task volume they're trying to manage, and that's why they're suffering. They're doing it at the 12-year-old level, or 15, or 20, but it's not where it should be. Francis Wade: You break it down into components, into it's sub-behaviors, and this is where they need to be self-analytical, but also a level of rigor is called for because you can't go improve 20 behaviors all at the same time. You've got to make a call. So you say, okay, I'm going to focus on this one now, this one in six months' time, this one a year from now because it could take that long for somebody's behaviors to change. So the big key when changing something that's complex is... I think Einstein... no, not Einstein. It was... Actually, I can't remember. I think it might be Mark Twain said that the key to getting ahead is breaking down complex behaviors into small ones and then improving them one at a time. I think it was Mark Twain. Francis Wade: But anyway, the idea is that we've got to be training and developing ourselves to focus on small bits, which means that we have all of the improvements, or many of them, laid out over time and that we are trying to improve two or three at a time. Because there's a lot of research about the habit books. If you try to change too much at once, you'll fail. Francis Wade: So among these 13 behaviors, you get down to the sub-behaviors and figure out which ones to focus on. And unfortunately, that's an individual discovery. No one can do it for you. No one can analyze your life well enough. There's no one instrument that's going to tell you. The instrument that I have put together is one that gives you a really rough, crude idea. Matter of fact, you could take my two-day training, come to Jamaica and take the training, and at the end of it say, "Geez, my first assessment was crap." I'd say, well, that can happen because when you're applying a very crude instrument to a very complex set of behaviors that you have built up over a period of a decade, two decades, three decades, a simple rudimentary rough understanding gets you going, which is good, better than nothing; but ultimately, you've got to get to this higher level of understanding where you become more masterful of understanding your behavior and the consequences on your life. That's where you're headed to. Nathan Simmonds: Yeah, absolutely. And it's important to me, that self-awareness. And no matter how crude the lens of the glasses that you're looking through to make that happen doesn't really matter as long as that there is then creating that new viewpoint to go, okay, these are the 13 things. Okay, which one of those do I need to work on that's going to elevate this? Okay, then you get that viewpoint. And it is all about reducing everything down to that single pixel or color. You've got this huge picture that's all made up of singular dots of information. Nathan Simmonds: The analogy that I often use when dealing with large-scale change, it's like the plate spinner at the Chinese circus. Does the plate spinner come out spinning 200 plates, or do they start with one plate at a time? Francis Wade: Right. Right. Nathan Simmonds: It's going to be a really short show if that guy tries to throw 200 plates up at the same time and start spinning. It's like, no, this isn't working. Francis Wade: Right. Nathan Simmonds: So we just have to go to that one thing, and you get the plate up, you spin it, and then you take the next one. And you keep building the 13 behaviors so the person, with the reflection pieces, you go back, have a look, break it down again, see where your pain points are, adjust them, tweak, adjust, move, develop, adapt. Francis Wade: Yeah. My argument is that by the time you pick up my book as an adult, or you walk into one of my training programs, or you do the online assessment, by the time you do one of these behaviors, a whole lot has already happened. So you're already a work in progress, and it's too late to not be a work in progress at that point because you're spinning plates. The only question is, are you going to be spinning more plates in the future? Are some of them dropping now? Do you need to add more plates, add more of those sticks? Francis Wade: The only question is, what's next? Because you already are doing it. This is what people are amazed to discover, like, "My God, I had no idea that I was doing it and no idea that I was doing some parts well and some parts not so well. But now that I know," to get back to what you said about reflection, "at least I can start reflecting on what I'm doing." And that can be a game that you play from that moment until the end of your career or even beyond. Nathan Simmonds: And every day we're a work in progress. So to be in denial that we're not a work in progress, we'd never ever make it. There is no, oh, I've made it. I'm at the top. No, there is just an evolution of process of thinking and the development, and some days you're going to be rubbish at things because your focus is on something else or a skill set, or something happens, or you're feeling whatever. There's going to be a developmental leap as you're coming through this stuff. But it's having that where with all to sit down and go let's have a look, let's adjust, let's reconcile, recalibrate, and make progression. In everything we do, not just time management instruction, but everything. Francis Wade: Right. But isn't that why COVID is so great? Because it's beyond any of our individual capacity. It obviously isn't our fault, and it gives us an opportunity to experience a radically different environment where there are more demands on our time, which can be extremely illuminating. Francis Wade: So I've needed an office to work in up until now. I didn't even know that. I hated the office. Now I actually see it has some utility. Now that it's gone, I have to now struggle to be as productive as I used to be. How come? Why? So this is great awakening that can happen because COVID is obviously something that happened external to you. It's not your fault. So you can stand apart from it and say why is it that I'm not doing well in this transition? And I suspect a lot of people are going to be a lot smarter having gone through this whole thing with respect to their productivity. And a lot won't. But that's how life is, right? Nathan Simmonds: Yeah, yeah, yeah. But then we have to put it under that lens and have a look at it. Is life happening to me, or is it happening through me? And I use the drunk logic of Captain Jack Sparrow from Pirates From The Caribbean. The problem isn't the problem. It's your attitude to the problem that is the problem. Francis Wade: Said with that drunken [crosstalk 01:02:24]. It's not the problem that's the problem. It's your... Nathan Simmonds: Yeah, but, okay, what is this situation? What viewpoint has this given me? How am I adjusting to this? How am I [inaudible 01:02:38]? What am I learning from this and how do I [crosstalk 01:02:39]? And that's the thing. Francis Wade: Right. Nathan Simmonds: So thinking about this learning element, where can people find you? Francis Wade: Well, I had the first Time Blocking Summit... Time blocking is the practice of putting tasks in your calendar as opposed to in a to-do list, and I had the first Time Blocking Summit earlier in March. We'll have another one next year. It's a technique that busy people have to use because they're trying to manage so many tasks. It's a must. So they can find me at timeblockingsummit.info. That's where they can find out about the summit next year. Francis Wade: They can also find me at ScheduleU.org. That's my everyday website for sharing ideas in the realm of using your schedule, using auto schedulers, again going up into the skinny branches of what happens when you have lots of time demands. Francis Wade: And they can also check out my book at perfect.mytimedesign.com. Somewhere in the show notes I think we can put the link to my assessment. I don't have a website for that by itself, but there's a link, a longer link, but you can put that in there so folks can go over there and see if it's something they want to do. It's something that is for purchase. So it's something that they could get into, but it's very inexpensive and takes about 20 minutes to get it done. Nathan Simmonds: Amazing. Look, Francis, thank you very much for doing this. Thank you very much for having this and making the time to have this conversation with me. After sharing these 13 behaviors with the people that are listening to this, I implore people, if you are feeling time starved, time malnourished, or whatever it is and you're not really able to get that focus in the right places, go and have a look at these concepts. Go and have a look at the 13 behaviors. Go and have a look at the assessment and complete that so you can start to understand what is it you need to change, and shift, and review, and interrupt, and switch so that you can get a better result with the time that you've got. Nathan Simmonds: And dig into the book. There's some stuff in there as well. It is condensing thinking from other people about habit stacking, behaviors and how we relearn this stuff. So if you're a self-aware leader and you want to improve the situation, go and find Francis. The contact details will be in the show notes. They'll be in the comments below. Nathan Simmonds: Thank you very much for today, Francis, and thank you very much for tuning in for this episode. Francis Wade: My pleasure. Take care everyone. Nathan Simmonds: Thank you. Nathan Simmonds: Firstly, massive thank you from the MBM team for tuning in to this Sticky Interview. If you haven't already done so, now is the time to click subscribe and stay up to date with our new training videos and great interviews. And secondly, if you want to know more about the skills we've been talking about in this episode, click the link and take a look at the MBM virtual classrooms. They're there to help you be the best version of you in the work that you do. Nathan Simmonds: Until next time, see you soon.

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