Investigating Temporal Structure Usage in Individual Time Management Practices: Two In-Depth Field Interviews

Investigating Temporal Structure Usage in Individual Time Management Practices: Two In-Depth Field Interviews

Dezhi Wu (Southern Utah University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-1601-1.ch021
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Introduction

Researchers in management and organizational behavior have shown that temporal rhythms and norms exist and that they collectively impact multiple aspects of an organization. They have also shown that individual productivity is hampered if temporal cycles clash. This suggests that individual time management is related to the temporal structures that govern and constrain an individual’s life. At its simplest form, individuals use external records to capture explicit temporal structures that allow them to view this constraint. This external record then allows individuals to view the relationships between the temporal structures affecting their lives and the relationships between the different temporal structures. Thus, knowing these relationships can help an individual build a personal schedule in a calendar tool that optimizes his or her use of time while still abiding by the temporal structures that cannot be controlled. It is expected that people who are very busy or very interested in personal advancement want to optimize their time usage and, therefore, spend time learning about the myriad of temporal structures that affect their lives so that they can best control them. It follows that people who are effective time managers are likely to use and understand temporal structures in a more sophisticated fashion than people who are not. This research investigates this possibility through two sets of intensive field interviews with a group of academic professionals at a U.S. public research university. The focus of this work is on investigating types of temporal structures being used in individual time management with calendar tools.

The chapter has this focus because its underlying motivation is that of developing new information technology to support better personal time management. In particular, this research is designed to provide evidence that offering the support of additional temporal structure features in electronic time management or calendar tools will help users be better time managers. It recognizes that being an effective time manager also involves personal commitment. This research seeks to find evidence that additional temporal structure management tools will help such a person better achieve this goal. Therefore, it mainly focuses on collecting temporal structure requirements at the task analysis stage in the systems analysis and design process through intensive user studies.

This research examines (1) how the temporal structures discussed in the literature review are used in personal time management, (2) what types of temporal structures are being used in individual time management practices, (3) what kind of support the current time management tools provide for capturing and managing the temporal structures, and (4) what design implications can be drawn from human studies for the inclusion of multiple types of temporal structures in electronic time management or calendar tools. In the field study, twenty busy professionals from a U.S. public research university were interviewed about their time management strategies and time management tool usage.

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