Publish at September 17 2018 Updated February 24 2022

What if you put a "real time" core in your agenda?

Analyze your personal organization and time management based on the mechanisms of "real time" kernels

In the world of computing, the notion of real-time is not necessarily related to the notion of immediacy. Indeed, a "real time" kernel has a strict basic function of being able to guarantee task execution times.

The shifted aspect of this point of view can be interesting to analyze our daily practices and review our organization, for example to find time to train. Let's look at some strategies to find time to train in our professional activity ...

Priority management

This notion of guaranteed task completion time is very much in line with our daily professional life where we are continuously solicited on different files in a rush. How do we put the urgency of eachactivity or file in perspective with its importance? The Eisenhower Matrix is a simple tool for defining the first levels of priority and how to manage the different demands on us.

This tool is very effective in "chopping and changing" and sorting through our priorities. However, there remains the risk that some tasks get stuck in the "plan" box and never become urgent. I'm thinking in particular of everything related to training and professional development. How can we make these times a priority?

We can take up the mechanisms of real time kernels that make the priorities of tasks evolve over time. Thus, one can block off a weekly slot for "learning'" with a relatively low priority. The choice of day and time for this activity is important. I personally chose Friday, from 4 to 6 pm: it is a time when there is less risk of meetings in my institution. However, it is still very likely that this learning time will conflict with urgent and important files and I will be forced to sacrifice it on the altar of "It's for now"...

No matter, I will shift it in the week (if I can) or reschedule it to next week but with a much higher priority. From one to the next, I'm guaranteed not to free up all the learning slots but I do, however, have a good chance of freeing up one or two per month : it's not much, but it's something !

Context switching

While modern real-time kernels can switch from one task to another instantly (in 0 clock cycles), the same is not true for our attention and focus : the slightest distraction pays a high price in terms of time to refocus on the file.

Aware of this cost in attention, it can be interesting to exploit some "sudden" context switches. For example, public transportation time can be used to take stock of one's watch. Thus, I take advantage of many trips to see what is being said on social networks, read an article or two or watch a video whose title appeals to me. These times allow me to feed myself with what my community produces and/or shares.

Multi-context work

This last solution goes beyond the operation of real-time kernels but seems particularly interesting. It is based on the "Working out loud" approach, which can be translated as working out loudvoice  and proposes to tell its work to its community. This simultaneously advances one's work, maintains connections with one's community, and formalises one's conceptions and learning.

In the article Working out loud on Twitter : telling one's work to organise it ? " C. Bonneau and V. Sergi analyzed the traces of people who tell their work in this way. They have thus categorized the writings into 6 forms of contributions that are all enriching for their author or their community. Let us review these different modalities of exposing one's work :

  1. Exposing one's work by publishing a draft, notes, a sketch, or recounting a difficulty encountered allows one to capitalize and disseminate traces of the process ;
  2. Contextualizing one's work by sharing one's position or framework strengthens the links between people and facilitates interactions when needed ;
  3. Documenting one's work helps to organize and plan future actions ;
  4. Teaching, by sharing lessons learned or an example that seems to speak to us, transforms the experience into reusable knowledge ;
  5. Sharing one's emotions allows one to create a cathartic space ;
  6. Posting a reflexive gaze offers the possibility of becoming aware of and analyzing a situation or an internal conflict. This facilitates putting things into perspective.

Such a visibility of one's work proves "organizing" and gives meaning to the work. It develops the author's power to act by making the work truly learning. This approach thus provides both the opportunity to advance one's work in a structured way, to train oneself and to strengthen the links with one's community, in almost hidden time.

Now, it's up to you to adapt the approach, to mobilize the forms of exposure of your work that suit you best to begin with; the proposed added value is worth trying.


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