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Time Management and GTD During My “Search”

I’d like to share some interesting time management data I’ve collected over the last nine months.  When I first left Terrafugia, in October 2012, I started what my McKinsey friend called “search.”  That’s when your full time job becomes finding your next full time job.  I was busy with “search” the very first day off of work, finding entrepreneurial networking groups, looking into various business ideas, and meeting with all kinds of people about all kinds of topics.

After a time, it became clear that certain projects would earn my regular and ongoing attention.  The graph below shows one series for each such project.  The data begin on January 24, 2013, but they’re smoothed out as 40 day moving averages.  The vertical axis shows “level of effort,” or what percent of my working hours went to a given project.

time_management_during_search

A short legend:

  • mtl 7” is my rental property.  It’s a steady 10% effort except during vacancies, like in March and April.
  • ArtistBomb” is a bona fide tech startup with real potential; it’s where I put most of my effort now.
  • ghost bear” was the code name given to a project to develop a luxury consumer product.  This was canceled due to what we forecast as shrinking margins and rising development costs.
  • stocks, finances, and accounting” is the time I spend keeping my financial house in order.
  • wpoa” is the Worcester Property Owners Association, a volunteer effort with far-reaching possibilities down the road
  • blog/consult/elance” tracks my time developing this blog, doing ad hoc consulting, and learning how to use elance both as buyer and seller.  They’re grouped because these activities happen under the same entity.
  • the “bagpack” is the BagPack for Hands Free Groceries, a consumer product that was able to get off the ground. (We’re still looking for a real model.)
  • search” includes the wide variety of projects with which I’ve had some contact, including apps for local search, hardware and software for robotic vision, and just over a dozen other concepts pitched to me.  It also includes my networking time before I started representing ArtistBomb exclusively.
  • business of life” is my catch-all for things like “getting new tires” or “getting new cell phone.”  They directly benefit my productivity but can’t be allocated fairly to any project.

I find it interesting to look back and see how my attention has shifted hither and thither.  Some projects require constant nurturing, some develop wings and fly off on their own, some have to be taken around back and shot.  But that’s the risk with any new venture.  Good time management ensures that you’re getting the most out of yourself, even if sometimes you head down blind alleys.

If you’re interested in knowing how I track my time like this, check out my previous article.

What do you think?  Have you pivoted your time away from some things and onto others in the past year?


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