Time Management Using Tag Clouds

04Jul09



First of all I want to go on record as saying that I don’t believe in Time Management!
There is no such thing. Those T-shirts that say Shit Happens, should say Time Happens. Time is a constant and the clock ticks no matter what we do.

Secondly, we don’t even have control over the events in our own lives. For example, we have no control over whether the President will declare war on Iran.

If he does, we all either decide to support him or complain about him, but it does not change the fact that we go to war. We do have partial control over the events in our lives. I call it partial control because sometimes our phones ring when we don’t want them too. And sometimes sales people knock on our doors when we don’t want them too. But, we have control over whether we answer to phone or the door, thus we have partial control.

I say all of this as a lead into the new and improved art of Event Management, not Time Management. Furthermore, this article will talk about Event Management using Tag Clouds. So before I begin talking about Event Management I think it is important to explain the differences between Tag Cloud Theory and Hierarchical Theory.

Tag Clouds Theory Versus Hierarchical Theory

Here is a quick illustration of Tag Clouds versus Hierarchical theory. If we were on playing jepordy and the category was “Things that Stink”, you may say; skunks, rotten eggs, sulpher, etc… Each of those are nouns. They are persons, places or things. In this case they are all things. When we think about a skunk certain words come to our minds that describe them, those words are called tags.

If we are talking about skunks those words could be; Black, White Streak, Stink, Be Ware, etc… The important thing to know is all of those words are the Tag Cloud that belongs to a skunk. Our minds operate using Tag Clouds for everything. A cup of coffee has a Tag Cloud; Hot, Brown, Bitter, Smells Good…

Hiearchies are a different animal all togeather (pardon the pun). Using Hiearcies, we could create folders and sub folders. We could create a parent folder called Animals, and several sub folders entitled; Black Animals, Animals That Stink, and White Animals. Now using the example of the Skunk, which folder would we place a skunk in? The problem is a Skunk could be placed into each of the folders.

In my opinion, that is exactly why Hiearchical systems are obsolete. We can’t go through life trying to figure out which folder to place things in. And, we can’t go through life trying to remember the folders where we already put things. If I was trying to find a Skunk I would first go to the “Things that Stink” folder. If I could not find it there, I would go the the “Black Animals” folder, and if it wasn’t there I would then go to the “White Animals” folder. Do you see how time consuming this becomes?

Time Management

Okay, now that you understand the differences between Tag Clouds and Hiearchies, let’s talk about “Time Management” oops I am sorry, I mean “Event Management”.

Event Management

Before I begin, I want to go on record, saying that I am a huge fan of Hyrum Smith (inventor of the Franklin Planner). However, I am not a fan of the 7 Habbits version of Time Management.

With the Seven Habits version of Time Management they recomend that you break everything down into Roles and Big Rocks. They recomend segmenting your life into the various roles that you play. Something like this; Parent, Employee, Spouse, Friend, Child, etc… They also recomend that you should stay below eight roles. Seven is the highest number of roles that you should manage.

So once you have created your roles, then you create your Big Rocks for the week. They call Big Rocks, the important tasks that you should accomplish. There is a really nice drag and drop screen that allows you to create the Big Rocks for each role that you play and then drag the big rocks onot your calendar. I have to say the software is the coolest that I have ever sen in calendar planning.

The problem that I have with the whole process is that it is hiearchical in nature. I don’t have time to sit down and drop Big Rocks under each Role and then Drag them onto my calendar. Just like Hiearchical Theory it is totally obsolete and does not work. Well maybe it works, but not without lot’s of thought and manual tagging.

Event Management with Tag Clouds

The way the we really operate as human beings is the same way our Brains naturally work, and that is with tags. When we think of our Dream, Goals and Tasks we give them tags. Examples are; Dishes, Vaccum, Work, Laundry, Vacation Home, Debt Free, etc..

None of these tags needs to be placed into a hiearchy. They can stand alone all by themselves. In the example above, I have some tags that are Tasks; Dishes, Vacum, and Laundry. Vacation home is a Dream, and Debt Free is a goal. At the end of the day that is exactly how we think. When we sit down with a piece of paper and a pencil and we do a brain dump of all the things we want to do, it does not come out in hiearchical order. It comes out in random thoughts with no pattern and no design. It is a brain dump. And that is exaclty how it should stay.

If we learn to operate within the context of our Brain’s it’s amzing how productive we can become. Forget trying to interpet the way we think. The way we think is the natural state of who we are. Let it be! The next time you make a list, don’t change a thing. Number your tags from one to whatever and let it be! The real question is how much time do you have to complete things on your list. My suggestion is try to complete one thing on your list per week. Don’t plan ahead, and don’t multi-task. Pick one thing per week to do and get it done.

By the way I call this list of tags – Passing Fancies…. Most of us have so many things that we could put on our list, and the importance of those things change on a daily basis, because we are human and we are fickel.

My next article will be How to Get things Done – Managing you passing fancies.

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