Forgivable Sloppiness: The Art of Epoch-Driven Time Management

I didn’t write a whole lot about time management in the book. This is because I believe it is a pretty mature field and I don’t like reinventing the wheel.  But I do have ideas about how to make your time management behaviors more robust, so you can allow for a certain amount of forgivable sloppiness in how you operate. David Allen of GTD fame once remarked, only partly in jest, that the fastest way to increase your productivity is to lower your standards. Forgivable sloppiness is my term for what it means to safely lower your standards.

The core idea is what I call epoch-driven time management: varying your behaviors based on the tempo of a project.  The idea can be generalized to your whole life, but let’s start with a single project, a thread in your life. This diagram, the Double Freytag triangle, which I discussed at length in the book, is one systematic way to carve up the time-line of your project into epochs with consistent tempos.

For the purposes of this post, all you need is your intuitive reading of the diagram. Think of the cheap trick and separation event as the psychological starting and ending points of a project (if you haven’t read the book, the choice of terms will remain somewhat cryptic, I am afraid). The height of the graph at any given point is, roughly speaking, a measure of how crazy your life is at that point. Each phase of the diagram is an epoch: it has a consistent rhythm, energy level and emotional feel.

Now that we have our terms defined (I am still working on an online glossary so I don’t have to do this for every post), let’s talk about forgivably sloppy time management.

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