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« Re-design | Main | What to look out for »

Consistency - 2

Some people seem to have misunderstood my post about consistency yesterday to be about using some system or method consistently, rather than jumping from one to another. Perhaps I didn’t make it as clear as I should have, but what I was actually writing about was producing consistent results.

Of course jumping from one method to another is a good way of ensuring that you won’t produce consistent results, just as jumping from one network marketing scheme to another is a good way of ensuring that you’ll never make any money from network marketing. But the method we use isn’t what I was concerned about. What I wanted to make as my point was that the test of any time management method is that it delivers consistent results.

That is why I followed up the post about consistency yesterday with one aboutWhat to look out for in respect of my new time management system. What that post was saying is that you will know when I have really succeeded in finalizing the system because I will start to produce consistent results as a result of using it. I gave several indicators of the type of consistent results to watch out for.

Reader Comments (6)

Good clarification - thanks!
January 16, 2012 at 23:18 | Registered CommenterSeraphim
So, if someone doesn't stick with a system she fails? And if a system doesn't produce perfect results for everyone and at every time, it fails? Maybe so. Maybe though, people change systems because their situation changed or simply because they needed a fresh perspective. Maybe it's good to change the system. Maybe the ultimate solution is not the ultimate time management system but to change it every six months.

I followed your blog since the autofocus beta. And I stuck with AF since. Well, kind of. Every couple of months it morphed into something new: for some time I threw everything at it I could think of, other times I would (almost) only enter projects; sometimes I would go through my list, looking only for the most important items, sometimes only the for most urgent; for a couple of months I used the list as a "task inventory" for the pomodoro technique; some other time I tried to get through the list one entry by one and dismissed any skipped task; now, I have returned to the original ruleset but ignore the dismissal: with promising results.

I wasn't consistent. Neither was autofocus. While I changed the rules, AF delivered variegated results. But did the changes do any harm? I don't think so. Never did I think: "this just doesn't work", but rather: "this suits me better". To stay with the metaphor: the "system" cannot tell you what picture to take but only take care of the details.
January 17, 2012 at 1:12 | Unregistered CommenterOlaf B
Point well taken.Consistency is producing accurate results in a regular basis.
January 17, 2012 at 7:02 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

<< I wasn't consistent. Neither was autofocus. While I changed the rules, AF delivered variegated results. >>

I'm not quite sure what your point is. It sounds as if you are saying that you would prefer a system that doesn't produce consistent results. But I can't imagine that you really mean that.
January 17, 2012 at 14:47 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Olaf is arguing against consistency of approach, not of results. He disagrees with "jumping from one method to another is a good way of ensuring that you won’t produce consistent results".
January 17, 2012 at 16:39 | Registered CommenterAlan Baljeu
Olaf, you were consistent about a few things:

You recorded your tasks in a place you reviewed often. You worked on the items on the list. You used the list to remind you of all your tasks so you could make a good decision about what to work on.

Yes, you changed exactly how you worked through the list and how long to spend on each item, and how disciplined you were about working on (or not working on) low-priority or low-urgency tasks.

You also consistently adapted your method to the needs of the day. Some weeks, we have to fight fires. Some weeks, we can look at why the fires are starting and try to prevent some. Sometimes we need to expand our list to see possibilities, other times we need to shrink it to make progress possible. Throughout it all, you had a list to make sure nothing dropped through the cracks, even if all the idea needed was a chance to be thought about and dismissed.
January 17, 2012 at 21:25 | Registered CommenterCricket

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