The Action Machine: Managing Your Time

The Action MachineIn talking previously about managing your time, I suggested that you make a list first thing in the morning (or the night before) about what your plans are for that day. Say, rather than get carried away trying to manage endless to-do lists all the way into next month and next year.

I’ve tried it every which way. We overstretch and then feel defeated when we can’t keep up. No matter what we do it’s never enough. I speak from decades of experience in overwhelming myself.

I have lists that go on forever but when I look at them I don’t necessarily know where to begin. I can be busy for months without accomplishing the things I most want to. Ask me some days of the week and I couldn’t even tell you what’s most important. It’s something worth re-focusing once in awhile.

Derek Franklin works on the same premise that I came to through long experience: Set some goals for today. You can (and should) still make lists for tomorrow (get the clutter out of your mind) but don’t think 24 hours can be turned into 100 like I’m prone to do. Or that something critical, like your health, can be put off til tomorrow forever. All I got out of that method was that I aged another twenty years when I wasn’t looking.

The Action Machine has one-day-at-a-time down to an art. How to manage your time, both on the Internet and off, for a more productive and balanced lifestyle. That sounds like a lot to hinge on the nebulous concept of “time” but, obviously, that’s all we’ve got and how we use it.

This software is built around 3 simple steps:

  • Make a list of tasks for the day.
  • Assign a specific amount of time to each task.
  • Select a task and focus on accomplishing it.

The Action Machine can be learned well enough to begin using it in about 3 minutes but it also comes with several PDFs on time-management and goal-setting and a help page including video tutorials. There are also update videos showing tweaks built in after the original shown above.

My main take-away from watching the videos was the clock at the top of the screen. That shows the total scheduled time for the day. I can’t set myself up for 50 hours if I’ve only got 4. Each task has an endpoint in time. If I say I’m going to spend 30 minutes filing photos, then 30 minutes it is. The screen minimizes to the system tray with alarms that will sound and/or pop-up to notify you.

I plan to continue moving my To-Do lists into it and scheduling bite-sized projects to get on with. Otherwise, they’re going to rot right where they are.

I started by making six lists but decided that was overly complicated. Two will suffice for now; one for ‘projects’ and one for repetitive tasks. I added the database to my backup list. Large multi-step projects will be broken down into their own Action Lists when I get around to it.

Note: Something he doesn’t mention in the above video is that you can switch between timers. Although the overall intent is to develop focus, if you have a short-attention span you can put one (‘exercise’ for instance) on Pause, go work with another project and come back to the exercise timer throughout the day. That may be the only way I get to 30 minutes; in one-minute increments. 🙂

The Action Machine is compatible with Windows & Mac. It has since been updated to version 3.0 adding even more bells and whistles to help you succeed in managing your time.

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