TMS Interview 003 -- A college Teacher Who Writes Science Fictions

Mammoth teaches at a college and is also a short story author, a technology author and translator. How does such a prolific writer manage his time?

  • What scenarios does your time management workflow apply to?

My daily life can be broken down into very clear blocks: creative work, school routines, and personal interest development. So far it looks like my time management workflow works in all of these blocks :)

  • What tools do you need for your time management workflow?

Tyme 2 on iMac; Forest on iPhone; Post-it Notes, RHODIA N18 GLOCKBOOK, Midori MD Notebook A5 GLOCKBOOK and Montblanc M fountain pen <-- These last ones are the ones I've been most satisfied with after testing a variety of paper and pens! It's a bit of personal taste, too.

  • Please briefly describe your time management workflow?

Roughly in these steps.

  1. Long-term projects: post-it notes with deadlines and broad phases, to be pasted on the wall and adjusted according to progress.
  2. At the end of each week: a simple plan for the next week, with reference to long-term projects and immediate goals, written in an A5 notebook.
  3. Every morning: brief review of the previous day, brief analysis in a PDCA cycle, written in an A5 notebook on. I tried Workflowy and Mubu before, but moved to paper and pen.
  4. Daily routine: Tyme 2 is used to keep track of time and expenses, Forest is used to make tomato clocks - I tried Pomotodo before, and later found the trees that Forest planted to be quite lovely as well.
  5. Switching work content essentially in two/four Pomodoro units, and intentionally interspersing different types of work. I take breaks when I find it difficult to concentrate.
  6. If I have any unexpected events, new ideas, information that needs to be verified, etc., I will make a few notes in your N18 notebook at any time for future reference.
  7. At weekends, I will review Tyme 2's logs, analyze the time wasted and the reasons for it, and write it in my weekend review.
  • How long have you been sticking with this workflow?

The earliest time logging started around 2006, having just finished reading Эта странная жизнь. Then I was influenced by some other time management methods, such as GTD and morning journaling. I tested and used a number of tools, but finally settled on the ones I have now. I have been using this current workflow since about 2012, but with a different toolset.

  • What are the advantages of this workflow?

I think there may be several advantages.

  1. This workflow is focus-oriented. What it records, in fact, is the level of focus expended in doing work of a different nature. Time is unmanageable, all we can manage is our own focus.
  2. Split long-term tasks systematically into each week to slow down procrastination. I tend to get caught up in the details, so I still often need jump out proactively and see the whole picture.
  3. Review often for daily improvement. Just like bookkeeping, the accounts are just data. From these data, insight needs to be extracted to guide decisions.
  • The biggest pain point in time management right now?

Not enough automation. Despite setting up shortcuts, it's a bit annoying to have to click and record at the start and end of each task. I tried some tools that automatically record the current active apps on the computer and can mark it uniformly after a while, but it's also troublesome.

  • The ideal time management workflow is? What kind of tools are needed?

I think the idea of GTD is a good one, especially the discussion about different altitude perspectives. But if GTD is strictly implemented, the collection alone would be enough of a problem.

The ideal time management tool should be universally computational, able to cross devices, respond quickly, track throughout the day, and automatically analyse.

  • Can you recommend a book on time management? The one that affected you the most.

Эта странная жизнь This book is really about the long-term practice, precise perception, and continuous improvement of one's energy management.

Mammoth’s workflow is comprehensive, which is the result of his constant adjustments. Of course, managing your focus, not just your time, is also very worthwhile.

If you want to be a part of more discussion, join our Telegraph Group

If you would like to share your time management insights, please answer a few questions below and email us at post (2) acacess.com and we'll edit and publish.

  • Please introduce yourself briefly.
  • What scenarios does your time management workflow apply to?
  • What tools do you need for your time management workflow?
  • Please briefly describe your time management workflow?
  • How long have you been sticking with this workflow?
  • The advantages of this workflow?
  • The biggest pain point in time management at the moment?
  • What is the ideal time management workflow? What tools are needed?
  • Can you recommend a book on time management? The one that affected you the most.
  • Can you recommend a friend to share her/his time management tips?


TMS Interview 002 -- A plan-document-reflection practitioner

Super Neo is based in Tokyo, who has a lot of experience: being an enterprener, switching from finance to social sciences, having two masters, and currently working for a Japanese consulting firm.
  • What scenarios does your time management workflow apply to?

The current workflow applies to tasks that have a greater degree of freedom for themselves and can be adjusted to such a degree as day/week. However, it is not suitable for situations where there are frequently urgent tasks.

  • What tools do you need for your time management workflow?

A notebook, pen, mobile phone (Note, calendar)

  • Please briefly describe your time management workflow?

Three parts: plan-document-reflection

Plan: break down a big project into the small parts that can be done - within one day. In the Google ecosystem, an all-day task appears at the top of the calendar. Each morning when I start work, I will allocate the day according to the scheduled tasks + new tasks for the day. The Note app is used to quickly jot down tasks that require practice.

Document: when one thing is done, it is recorded in the calendar. At the end of the day, tasks are recorded in a bullet journal in a notebook. This process is in REFLECTION.

Reflection: daily review. Experiences or improvement can be reflected in the handwritten notes. Therefore, I can improve my process every day.

Then it's cycle back to PLAN: I will write the next day's tasks by the end of the day.

  • How long have you been sticking with this workflow?

It's been over 4 years. I used to be too busy to do time management when I was in sales. Time is not yours, so it's unmanageable.

  • The advantages of this workflow?

Combination of electronic + hand-writing version.

The electronic version can:

  • cope with the ever-changing daily work,
  • can be quickly recorded anytime, anywhere,
  • can be searched,
  • and can add attachments and share them with others.

The hand-writing version can

  • record intimate information,
  • record both work and life information within one page,
  • record work that has already been done and without issues of deletions, updates, etc,
  • force myself to review, slower than typing but allowing myself to be more intentional.
  • The biggest pain point in time management at the moment?

The tag feature in the calendar is just too bad to get a convenient overview of an item. For example, with Notion, you can easily manage tasks using the dashboard interface, but not the calendar.

  • What is the ideal time management workflow? What tools are needed?

a tool linked to project management, which I myself want to do with Notion. But there's no figuring out what to do about it yet. Everyone's time management is not quite the same.....

  • Can you recommend a book on time management? The one that affected you the most.

The Bullet Journal Method: The following small articles help the most, whether it's time management or project management, in fact the last thing to manage is your own way of thinking.

TMS Interview 001 -- A Data Scientist with Theoretical Physics Background

Lei Ma is a long-term friend on Douban, and he has become a data scientist and runs several side projects at the same time. Let's take a look at his introduction.
  • Please introduce yourself briefly?

I am a data scientist with a PhD degree in theoretical physics. I am working for a logistics company where my day-to-day work is solving various data problems in Python.

  • What scenarios does your time management workflow apply to?

It is suitable for projects with a clear purpose. The main thing I do with logging time is to review the project and then develop a workflow for this type of work, thus speeding up the process of similar projects later. Hence it's just like a git commit to record every step, which is a way to record time. For a relatively large project, for example, I'd break it down into smaller chunks and then jot down the time spent on each chunk, just like submitting code.

  • What tools do you need for your time management workflow?

Jira + Confluence. Although both are dated, they are functional and also available for free (both Jira and Confluence are tools from Atlassian, the former for team project management and the latter for team wikis).

  • Please briefly describe your time management workflow?

My workflow is spontaneous. The current one is to write thoughts in Confluence (which is a less fixed part, sometimes I'll write it in Gitbook, depending on the project), then split into tasks to put on Jira, then finish small tasks in Kanban way, and keep track of how long each task is.

  • How long have you been sticking with this workflow?

It's been a year and a half since this workflow took shape. Actually I started with Trello for project management, then switched to GitHub Projects, and finally adopted Jira + Confluence about seven months ago.

  • The advantages of this workflow?

For me, I don't want to leave my work environment to record time. Jira has the corresponding Slack plug-inChrome/Firefox plug-in (which can drag a calendar to record work), and VS Code plug-in, which basically doesn't require me to leave my work space when recording time and progress.

  • The biggest pain point in time management at the moment?

The biggest pain point is the lack of automation. A lot of the operations of recording time are repetitive labor.

  • What is the ideal time management workflow? What tools are needed?

The ideal time management workflow for me is having more automation. I'm a bit of a lazy person, and I expect a time management tool that can learn my work patterns when I use it. For example don't have to type the time from time to time, or I type my work log from scratch.

Editor's note

Lei’s time management tips include two points.

  1. Divide and conquer.
  2. Record by hand.

    If you too often have such huge projects, you might want to refer to the way he works to manage your time.

    For example, if you're writing your thesis, you can break down each chapter as a project. In order to complete a chapter, it may be necessary to read/collect/draft/revise, each of which can be treated as an executable item. Therefore, you can then record the time of those items. In this way, a huge thesis project becomes a set of small projects that can be executed and tracked.

    If you want to be a part of more discussion, join our Telegraph Group

    If you would like to share your time management insights, please answer a few questions below and email us at post (2) acacess.com and we'll edit and publish.

    • Please introduce yourself briefly.
    • What scenarios does your time management workflow apply to?
    • What tools do you need for your time management workflow?
    • Please briefly describe your time management workflow?
    • How long have you been sticking with this workflow?
    • The advantages of this workflow?
    • The biggest pain point in time management at the moment?
    • What is the ideal time management workflow? What tools are needed?
    • Can you recommend a book on time management? The one that affected you the most.
    • Can you recommend a friend to share her/his time management tips?