The Action Machine Diary, Day 4

The Action MachineA study of time management via The Action Machine immediately segues into health issues. That was such a profound thought in the middle of the night it kept me awake. Profound thoughts can be bad for my health.

I grew up in a family that was run like The Army. Everything had a time, everything had a place, everything had a price. Even holidays were clocked by the odometer. From such and such town to the next place was 137 miles. We arrived at 1:14 PM. We had lunch consisting of blah, blah and blah. We left at 1:43 PM. There was a slight delay because one of the kids had to go to the bathroom.

To be able to entertain a study of time management, even decades after that torture, is a miracle.

Today I went downtown (wasps on the mirror again; more about that later) to buy some concrete nails. The man at the hardware store talked me out of it. He said they don’t work. For anything. They’re on the shelf for decoration. So, I left the store with a digital timer/battery included instead. I’ve never used one and I thought it would be fun.

As it turns out, a digital timer is not fun. When the alarm goes off, it doesn’t stop. It just keeps bleeping and bleeping and bleeping like a security system. I’m not deaf.

Then I went to fill up my car. The tank was half empty and I hadn’t filled it for four months because I don’t ever go anywhere. I drove all the way across town, passing 3 other gas-stations on the way because my credit card gives me points for a particular one. When I got there what I found was an empty lot with a fence around it. Did the credit card company send me a notice about this? No.

I drove back up the highway to another station, (100 degrees F again and the windows are closed, you know, because of the wasps) put my credit card in the slot, pumped the gas and closed the lid. By the time I got back to the machine to get my receipt it was too late; the screen had already flipped over for the next customer. I stood there for a moment in complete wonderment. I considered bursting into tears.

Before the snow flies again, I will turn … oh, approximately 60. I’m on the brink of developing agoraphobia. I can’t even imagine how people in their 70’s and 80’s make it through the day.

Scheduled Tasks: Too hot to think. To hot to move. Just because I have a time-management system now it doesn’t mean I have to use it. Ha, ha, I can do nothing.

But I decided to have a look at Task Coach that’s been hanging around on my computer for months. It’s not at all intuitive or simple to use out of the box, but maybe it’s just me. On the 6th try last night I finally started to get onto it. It comes as either a portable or desktop version.

Left column is the task list, sub-tasks, sub-sub tasks, etc. You can categorize your tasks, filter and search them, add notes and attachments, URLs and budgets. Or not.

Task Coach

Task Coach

Double-click on any task and you get the whole menu.

Task Menu Options, Task Coach

Task Menu Options, Task Coach

I was curious if I could make it behave like The Action Machine, i.e. set a task with an end-point alarm. After only a few days’ experience I’m convinced the alarm is the key factor. I’m not interested in tracking time, I’m interested in learning how to manage it. It’s not the same thing.

Double-click on a task and then the Dates tab. Start date is already entered and that’s all you need if you’re only interested in the near future. Set the reminder time (say half an hour from the time now showing) and OK. Now there’s an alarm set. Click the clock at the top of the window to start. The alarm doesn’t ring but it throws a reminder onto your screen.

Edit Sub-Task, Task Coach

Edit Sub-Task, Task Coach

Unfortunately, this is where it falls apart because the alarm window will be buried under any other window you have open. If you’re paying attention you’ll see it turn orange on the taskbar but that’s asking a lot. So much for end-point alarms.

You can start and stop tasks from the icon in the system tray. I like that. I also like the task tree. Although where you make your lists is the least important aspect of a time-management system. The other stuff; categories, appearance, attachments, notes hidden under icons, it’s too much baloney for time management.

That’s about it. Potential in the making.

I’m back to The Action Machine to get some scanning done.

One thought on “The Action Machine Diary, Day 4

  1. Jan

    Dear JLB

    “Before the snow flies again, I will turn … oh, approximately 60. I’m on the brink of developing agoraphobia. I can’t even imagine how people in their 70′s and 80′s make it through the day.”

    Simple, they find a blog like yours to keep them laughing out loud – a very precious gift!


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