Less is More; Exploring Support for Time Management Planning

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Less is More: Exploring Support for Time Management Planning John R. Lund [email protected] PeDEL Group, University of Utah Salt Lake City, Utah, USA Jason Wiese [email protected] PeDEL Group, University of Utah Salt Lake City, Utah, USA ABSTRACT Time management planning (TMP) is a practice where people plan what they intend to accomplish and when in a given day. The literature indicates behaviors associated with TMP, but not how people specifically engage in them or how technology is involved. We examined TMP practices of 19 graduate students, noting their methods and how they engage with tools. Students utilized differ- ent combinations of TMP behaviors, both in comparison to each other and within their own experiences. We then asked them to plan following specific guidelines over five days. Participants imple- mented these guidelines in unique ways using unstructured tools (paper, notes applications). Together, these findings suggest that to be useful, TMP software must not impose a specific structure. We demonstrate opportunities to incorporate these findings through the design of a flexible mobile application based on notes applica- tions to facilitate planning while encouraging, but not requiring, the use of TMP behaviors. CCS CONCEPTS • Human-centered computing → Field studies; Empirical stud- ies in HCI. KEYWORDS time management; personal informatics; diary study; planning ACM Reference Format: John R. Lund and Jason Wiese. 2021. Less is More: Exploring Support for Time Management Planning. In Designing Interactive Systems Conference 2021 (DIS ’21), June 28-July 2, 2021, Virtual Event, USA. ACM, New York, NY, USA, 14 pages. https://doi.org/10.1145/3461778.3462133 1 INTRODUCTION Time management and productivity are buzzwords in our society. Applications, blog posts, books, and podcasts describe or implement both tried-and-true and new-and-improved methods to maximize efficiency. Time management is defined as a set of “behaviors that aim at achieving an effective use of time while performing cer- tain goal-directed activities” [15]. These skills are important and valuable. Past work has shown that the application of time manage- ment strategies is positively correlated with academic performance Permission to make digital or hard copies of all or part of this work for personal or classroom use is granted without fee provided that copies are not made or distributed for profit or commercial advantage and that copies bear this notice and the full citation on the first page. Copyrights for components of this work owned by others than the author(s) must be honored. Abstracting with credit is permitted. To copy otherwise, or republish, to post on servers or to redistribute to lists, requires prior specific permission and/or a fee. Request permissions from [email protected]. DIS ’21, June 28-July 2, 2021, Virtual Event, USA © 2021 Copyright held by the owner/author(s). Publication rights licensed to ACM. ACM ISBN 978-1-4503-8476-6/21/06...$15.00 https://doi.org/10.1145/3461778.3462133 [13, 36] and job performance [7]. Furthermore, time management strategies have been shown to positively relate to stress-related outcomes including perceived control of time [3, 26, 35, 38], job satisfaction [35], and health [12]. Knowledge workers, students, and many remote workers face unique time management challenges due to the presence of abstract tasks and large periods of unstructured time. This work seeks to discover how people engage in time management planning (TMP) behaviors, including determining tasks, prioritizing and scheduling tasks, and estimating task length [42]. We set out to design a tool, starting with a rigid design that attempted to impose a specific struc- ture and format on the steps of TMP. This approach was informed by the literature and a hypothesis that the main barrier to better TMP behaviors was that people were unaware of or unable to enact the important aspects of TMP. To further inform our design before we began implementing it, we posed three research questions: RQ1: How do people currently engage in TMP? RQ2: How do participants respond when asked to plan employing all of the TMP behaviors? RQ3: How do they use software and paper-based tools to engage in TMP? We explored these questions in semi-structured interviews with 19 graduate students, a 5-day planning diary activity with 17 of these students, and an end-of-study survey with 16 of these same students (see Figure 2). Our results revealed a new set of mechanics that capture the ways participants followed the TMP behaviors. Contrary to our expectations, we found that our participants did engage in TMP behaviors on a regular basis, but that the way they implemented these behaviors differed both between and within individuals. Furthermore, while it was clear that participants some- times followed these behaviors, they actively chose whether or not to enact them depending on contextual factors. This led us to reframe the design problem we were solving, and to completely change our planned design from a rigid tool to a planning-focused text editor. We include both of these designs to provide concrete artifacts of our thinking before and after conducting the study, as well as to highlight the differences between TMP in theory and in practice. These results and the resulting design also point to a broader opportunity to leverage the flexibility of text-editing tools in domain-specific contexts to create new interactive experiences. 2 BACKGROUND AND RELATED WORK Time management is defined as a set of “behaviors that aim at achieving an effective use of time while performing certain goal- directed activities” [15]. These behaviors include time assessment behaviors (e.g., awareness of how one spends her time), planning behaviors (e.g., setting goals, planning tasks), and monitoring be- haviors. The literature shows that not all of these behaviors are DIS ’21, June 28-July 2, 2021, Virtual Event, USA Lund and Wiese equally important. Specifically, short-term planning behaviors show the most significant relationship to desired outcomes [15, 29]. Despite its importance, planning is described abstractly in the literature, rather than at the process level. The literature suggests that planning involves practices such as identifying goals and pri- orities [11, 13, 15, 29, 33, 50], balancing intentions and constraints [11, 33], making a to-do list [13, 15, 29, 50], grouping tasks [15], allocating time and scheduling [13, 15, 29, 33], and anticipating situ- ational factors such as motivation, emotional state, and energy level [15, 48]. We refer to this type of planning as Time Management Planning (TMP) as it is defined in Parke et al.’s work on daily planning: determining tasks to be performed on a particular day, prioritizing and scheduling the order of such tasks, and sketching out the approximate amount of time to be spent on each task [42]. Other work refers to this type of planning as “short-term” [15, 29] or “short-range” [13] planning. TMP is related to, but distinct from, other concepts in the lit- erature such as time management, task management, and action planning. Planning is often lumped in with other terms (e.g., “task management and planning”) without disentangling their differ- ences, so we provide definitions of these distinctions here. Prior work in each of these areas provides important context for or prin- ciples of TMP and will be discussed later. Time management refers to the broad category of behaviors and methods that contribute to spending one’s time wisely [15]. This includes aspects such as planning one’s time, managing one’s tasks, and monitoring and making effective use of available time when engaged in tasks. Task management refers to how one records tasks, remembers tasks, and maintains and organizes task lists [23]. Notably, while TMP does involve some form of task management (determining, prioritizing, scheduling tasks), it occurs on a daily or similarly short- term basis with a limited scope of one’s tasks. Task management, on the other hand, encompasses all the many tasks one is responsible for and is less of a recurring event than an ongoing effort. Action p lanning refers to breaking down a task into the concrete actions leading to its completion [32] and linking these actions or intentions with a specific context (when, where, etc.) they might be performed in [21, 37, 45]. A specific form of action plan prevalent in broader behavior change literature is imp lementation intentions, which follow a general format of “If situation Y is encountered, then I will initiate goal-directed behavior X!” [20]. TMP shares important principles with action planning such as associating a specific time (context) with actions, but is distinct because it is concerned with coordinating and reconciling the completion of several tasks in a short-term time frame rather than a single task or goal. 2.1 Planning Principles As described earlier, TMP is an important time management behav- ior with similarities to general time management, task management, and action planning. Work in each of these domains provides con- text for and important principles of planning although it does not directly address TMP. Other work has specifically examined TMP and its general effects on individuals’ performance or perception of time, but does not examine the mechanics of TMP — how do people engage in TMP, what tools do they use, and how can they best be supported? In the following paragraphs, we italicize principles that we drew from this literature which guided our initial design (see section 3). Behavior change literature, mostly health-related, describes plan- ning focused on the concept of implementation intentions - the idea that associating a specific trigger or context with a specific action makes it more likely to be carried out [1, 20, 21, 27, 46]. By assigning sp ecific contexts to tasks, people are more likely to perform the planned action (such as flossing, eating vegetables, or engaging in physical activity). Other work has shown that simply being re- minded that one has a p lan for their actions, even before it is time to perform them, makes following through on intentions more likely [53]. Some work in the HCI community also looks at supporting peo- ple in creating plans for a specific task or goal. Agapie et al.’s work focused on supporting the creation of physical activity plans found that p roviding scaffolding for p lan structure and comp onents regard- ing which activities to include and/or how much or how little to plan was helpful to those creating them [4]. Paruthi et al. intro- duced the concept of “sweet spots” based on multiple contextual factors combining favorably for an intended task or action to take place and further pointed out that software might aid in identifying or anticip ating op p ortunities to take action [43]. These works also identified that accounting for and communicating contextual infor- mation, such as routines in one’s schedule and other constraints, made plans more approachable and accurate [4, 5, 43]. Similar, but within the time management domain, is work study- ing how breaking down abstract tasks can make their completion more likely to happen. For example, Kokkalis et al.’s TaskGenies application used crowd-sourced suggestions to assist users in iden- tifying the steps to completing a task on their to-do list [32]. They found that, especially for high-level, low-contextual-demand tasks, users were able to complete more tasks with the action plans pro- vided by others. Kaur et al.’s work with action plans targeted the highly contextual task of writing by providing a “vocabulary” of specific, common tasks to scaffold the process of planning the next steps to take in writing/editing [28]. In both cases, assisting users in the process of determining sp ecific tasks to engage in made it easier for them to carry out their plans. 2.2 Planning Outcomes Some studies in time management and productivity have broadly examined TMP’s effects. Kocielnik et al.’s Robota prompted work- place users to reflect on their work and develop plans for what they would accomplish during the day and reflect on their progress, among other topics, via a Slack chatbot and an Alexa device [31]. They found some participants increased their awareness of their progress and motivated them to be more productive, while others benefited from more indirect effects such as more organized time tracking and prioritization of tasks. In a more explicit examination of TMP, Parke et al. surveyed employees to understand the relation- ship of TMP and contingency planning with work engagement and daily performance over 10 consecutive workdays and found that TMP behaviors positively related to both engagement and daily performance [42]. Less is More: Exploring Support for Time Management Planning DIS ’21, June 28-July 2, 2021, Virtual Event, USA Leshed and Sengers took a different approach, exploring how different time management practices and tools play a role in con- tributing to or helping people cope with busyness [33]. Their par- ticipants’ experiences revealed that planning helps organize and prioritize tasks and events and also makes coordinating with oth- ers or anticipating conflicts easier, even if their plans ultimately weren’t followed. They suggest part of planning’s value is in creat- ing a feeling of control and facilitating negotiating priorities and goals. Taken together, these works indicate that engaging in TMP pro- duces meaningful, positive effects for individuals, both in the work- place and in their personal life. Indeed, other work from Claessens et al. and Cotte & Ratneshwar additionally shows planning be- haviors may interact with factors such as job characteristics and aspects of one’s personality to be predictive of how one chooses to spend their leisure time, overall perceived control of time, and even web browsing habits [14, 16, 17]. However, it remains unclear how people engage in all of the steps of TMP (determining tasks, prioritizing, scheduling, estimating completion time). For how important planning is, a review of the time management literature found a glaring gap in the literature around detailed aspects of the mechanics of planning [15]. Even in some of the above survey-based works which depend on identifying planning behaviors, the survey questions included are abstract and reveal little about the process itself: “I set myself short-term goals”, “I plan my daily work activities”, “I make lists of things to do each day” [14, 16]. While there is one study that reports on a single participant think-aloud in a planning task [24], the situation is contrived and the participant is not planning his own schedule. This existing work identifies that TMP is important and confirms that people are engaging in some form of it, but the process by which individuals do it and their reasons for it are still unclear. Understanding the specific, contextualized mechanics of what people do is a critical step toward designing and developing soft- ware that effectively supports TMP [25]. This leads us to two re- search questions: RQ1: How do people currently engage in TMP? RQ2: How do participants respond when asked to plan employing all of the TMP behaviors? 2.3 Time Management Tools Many people rely on paper tools for various time management tasks, including planning [33]. Paper-based time management tools are convenient and easy to use, making them an obvious go-to. However, paper-based tools also lack the ability to directly support overcoming common barriers to successful time management, in- cluding procrastination [47, 55] and prospective memory, which “refers to a collection of behaviors and mental processes concerning a formed intention to remember something later (most often a task) and remembering that intention at the appropriate time or place” [34]. In contrast to paper-based tools, software has the potential to offer new opportunities to support overcoming these barriers. There is also a variety of software intended to directly support time management behavior, most commonly calendars and to-do lists. The majority of calendar and to-do list software is mostly a simple digitization of their paper counterparts, with some additional features such as the ability to set reminders. While calendars support some kinds of planning, past work has shown that their use is overloaded, and not in line with the defini- tion of TMP given above [41, 44, 51]. One consistent observation across this work is that calendars are used for many things that are not plans to complete tasks, including: time-based reminders (e.g., deadlines), travel plans, and the whereabouts of others [11] and that people tend not to follow what is on their calendars, skipping things that are on their calendars and doing things that are not on their calendars [51]. Other work has found that families do not depend on calendars to support their planning because their behaviors end up being a complicated mix of routine and deviation from routine, and in practice, there is so much last-minute deviation from routine that those tools are not currently helpful [18]. Research has sought to develop new tools for to-do lists and task management, calling for a more holistic, user-centered approach that leverages the benefits of different tools and offers stronger support for integrating them together [11]. One such user-centered effort resulted in TaskVista, a tool that supports task management driven by a series of data-driven insights identified from two stud- ies with seven participants in a professional context [8]. Similarly, Haraty et al. explored individual differences in approaches and tools used by academics when managing their tasks [23] and developed ScriPer - a scripting mechanism for personalizing features of task managers [22]. Other tools attempt to automatically parse to-do lists to infer meaning [19] or automate task and appointment sched- uling [10, 39, 40]. However, it is unlikely that just being given an automatically generated schedule for individual tasks will work for most people. Being an active participant in forming a specific short-term plan is likely to be an important step, especially for people who struggle with procrastination. While many of these time management tools described above support or are related to some of the aspects of TMP, none of them integrates the aspects of TMP (determining tasks to be performed on a particular day, prioritizing and scheduling the order of such tasks, and sketching out the approximate amount of time to be spent on each task) into a cohesive tool or process. Additionally, as referenced earlier, we have a limited understanding of how individuals use these tools specifically when creating plans. This leads to our final research question: RQ3: How do participants use software and paper-based tools to engage in TMP? 3 INITIAL DESIGN PLANS We drew our initial framing for this design problem from the litera- ture: there is value in engaging in TMP, especially for people who have flexibility in when they choose to do things. We hypothesized that a main reason that people do not engage in TMP is because they perceive it as too burdensome. Thus, a primary objective for us was to reduce the burden of engaging in TMP. Furthermore, we expected that it was easy for individuals to forget or leave out important aspects of TMP, such as having complete plans for their days, assigning times to tasks, and estimating how long they would take. DIS ’21, June 28-July 2, 2021, Virtual Event, USA Lund and Wiese (a) Selecting an item to go in a time slot (b) A mostly complete plan Figure 1: Screens from an early vision for software to sup- port planning In other words, we approached this design as a way of combin- ing TMP behaviors into a unified process, then supporting and streamlining that process so it could occur each day. The components of TMP provided in the definition are: (C1) determining tasks to be performed on a particular day (C2) prioritizing and scheduling the order of such tasks (C3) sketching out the approximate amount of time to be spent on each task We further drew on guidance from the italicized principles in subsection 2.1 for direction on how to accomplish this goal and how to support people in following these plans, which we consolidate below. (P1) assigning specific contexts to tasks (P2) being reminded that one has a plan for their actions (P3) providing scaffolding for plan structure and components (P4) identifying or anticipating opportunities to take action (P5) accounting for and communicating contextual information (P6) determining specific tasks to engage in As a result of this framing and guidance from the literature, our early design ideas in thinking about software solutions to this prob- lem were focused on structured approaches—scaffolding structure on users’ plans and the planning process (P3)—as a way of address- ing these problems. We thought that this approach would lead to the best combination of ease-of-use and including the imp ortant asp ects of p lans. Figure 1 shows mockups that we had made of this vision during the summer of 2018, the same time we conducted the interviews described below. These mockups illustrate our ideas and understanding at the time, including some assumptions we made about what users would be willing to do in the context of the app. Specifically, identifying tasks to be done on a day (C1), assigning specific times to every item ((P1) and (C2)), estimating duration for a task (C3), making implicit tasks (like sleep and meals) explicit (P5), prompting prospective memory (P2), identifying opportunities to plan a specific item (P4), and only having one thing scheduled in a time slot (P6). We include this design because it captures a snapshot of our original thinking based on the literature and our interpretation and application of that literature. In our analysis, it also aided us in thinking about how what we learned from participants compared with our original framing. Knowing what we now know after con- ducting the study described in section 5, it can be difficult to see our own past perspective where we imagined this design would be adopted and appreciated. However, we note that we were not alone. There are now a variety of apps1, published in the app store around that same time, which follow a similar approach to the one portrayed in Figure 1. Noting that the gap in the literature regarding the processes and motivations of individuals engaging in TMP meant we did not have enough direction to proceed with our design, we conducted the interviews described below with a goal of developing deeper insights on the mechanics of how people plan their days, and if they would be receptive to following a highly structured process like the one we were envisioning. 4 METHODS We conducted semi-structured interviews, a diary study, and an end-of-study survey to explore the research questions outlined above. 4.1 Interviews In the 30-60 minute semi-structured interview, we asked partici- pants about their general approach to managing their time, how they use the specific tools they indicated using in the screening sur- vey, and their experiences with TMP. We had prepared questions, but allowed for follow-up questions or deviations to go into topics in greater depth when appropriate. The script used can be found as part of supplemental materials. We also asked them to demonstrate how they currently make plans for the coming day. Following dis- cussion and demonstration about participants’ current planning practices, we asked them to make a plan according to instructions based on the TMP behaviors described earlier. Provided instructions: (1) Make a list of to-dos or tasks that should be done tomorrow (2) Make an estimate of how long each task will take and p ut it next to the task (3) Mark any tasks that are esp ecially critical or non-essential as such (4) Put any structured events on the calendar (5) Fill in when to comp lete tasks you wrote down earlier One of the authors conducted and transcribed all of the inter- views. One author coded 2 transcripts following inductive coding, then the other author coded the remaining ones after discussing and agreeing upon the coding of the first 2. Following the coding, both authors discussed each code together and followed iterative thematic analysis to develop common themes. 1Futurenda, Sectograph, TimePlanner, Planner Pro, Accomplish, and others Less is More: Exploring Support for Time Management Planning DIS ’21, June 28-July 2, 2021, Virtual Event, USA Figure 2: Participant data. 19 participants participated in the interview portion, 17 in the diary activity, and 16 in the end- of-study survey. ECE stands for Electrical and Computer En- gineering. 4.2 Diary Activity Following completion of the interview, we gave each participant instructions for how to complete the planning diary activity and asked them to do so for five days. We requested they follow the given instructions for planning for the duration of the diary study regardless of their usual behaviors. Participants had the choice of five consecutive weekdays or five consecutive days including the weekend if they felt that fit their time management practices better. This seemed appropriate as the purpose of the diary activity was to discover what happens when they integrate TMP practices into their existing behavior. Each of the 5 days, participants used an online form to submit a picture of their plan (or another appropriate format) and answer a series of questions about their experience creating and executing their plan for the day. Specifically, participants were asked to indi- cate which tools they used when making their plan, what was easy or challenging about making their plan, how they felt about what they accomplished during the day, how often they referred to their plan, and how much of their plan they accomplished and why. The instructions for planning were included in the form so par- ticipants could review them if they could not remember them. After completing the five day diary activity, we sent a brief end- of-study survey asking about the participant’s overall experience with the study, if they found it useful, if planning affected their time management, how likely they were to continue with TMP, and if they felt making the plan each day was worth the time it took. 4.3 Participants and Recruitment We recruited 19 participants from a large research university through a mass email sent by their department or college academic advi- sor. All procedures were approved by our institution’s IRB. The email used to explain the study can be found in the supplemental materials for this work. Volunteers completed an online screening survey asking about the paper and digital tools they use currently or used in the past to manage their time. The survey also asked how often the participant plans for the upcoming day, how they do so, and how productive they felt they were compared to their peers. We considered using Macan’s Time Management Behaviour Scale (TMBS) [36], but during pilot work we found that many of the questions were confusing and led to responses that did not ac- curately represent respondents’ opinions. We selected participants with the goal of an even spread of tools used, gender, and field of study. Of the 19 who were selected and completed the interview, 12 were female, and no more than 4 were from any given department. None of the participants had any prior relationship with any author. Participants were contacted via email, text message, or phone call to arrange a time to interview. We conducted interviews in person on the university campus. We paid participants $10.00 following the interview and upon completion of the final survey, participants collected the remaining $15.00 of compensation. We refer to interview data with I-# (with # being participant number), diary activity data with D-#, and end-of-study survey data with E-#. Participants participated in each portion of the study such that I-9 and E-9 will refer to the same person. We worked with a graduate student population for this study, which satisfied two criteria we identified for doing this work. Most importantly, we wanted to be sure that a majority (preferably all) of our participants would be in situations that would likely require regular planning and time management to be successful in their work life. A key aspect of this is having a significant part of the workday being unstructured time where they get to decide how they spend that time. We asked participants to plan their whole day, rather than only their work day. Additionally, we wanted to focus on a population that would have some overall similarity in the structure of their work so that we could be more confident that differences we saw were not simply because their work contexts were dramatically different. To aid in assessing the translation of these results to other popu- lations, we provide a general description of the type of work and tasks typical for this group (referred to simply as graduate students). The graduate students we worked with complete coursework and conduct research under the direction of an advisor or principal investigator (analogous to a supervisor), but generally have high autonomy regarding their schedule and short-term tasks. Their primary tasks typically include writing and reading research publi- cations, completing coursework, teaching or grading coursework, and conducting and recording their research and related experi- ments. Tasks related to research — such as writing and conducting experiments or studies — may be more abstract with long-term deadlines, while tasks related to coursework are more likely to be concrete with short-term deadlines. These characteristics bear most similarity to knowledge work- ers, especially those in an academic context, and undergraduate students. Though the specific tasks may differ, the interleaving of long- and short-term deadlines and varied levels of autonomy may suggest broader applicability of these findings to other types of knowledge workers. However, the experiences of this population (graduate students) may differ greatly from other groups, partic- ularly those which work a predefined schedule, work exclusively towards short-term deadlines or on repetitive, well-defined tasks, DIS ’21, June 28-July 2, 2021, Virtual Event, USA Lund and Wiese or generally have significantly less autonomy regarding what to work on and when during the day. 4.4 Limitations Participants in our study were from our own university and self- selected. These methods likely attracted participants who have more developed time management skills. No participants indicated they felt they were less productive than their peers in the screening surveys. When collecting demographic information, we believed age would not be a notable factor in participants’ time management relative to each other and thus did not collect it in the interest of minimizing the collection of personal data. However, in interviews, two participants referenced their age because they felt perhaps they were less inclined to use technology than their peers because of a difference in age. While we wish we had foreseen this and done things differently, we did not collect age, thus we cannot report it for our participants. As such, generalizing these results should be done with care. 5 RESULTS The combined results of our interviews and diary study reveal insights into how our participants currently engage in TMP, how their processes compare to those suggested by the literature, how do participants respond when asked to plan employing all of the TMP behaviors, and how they use software and paper-based tools to engage in TMP. We also discuss the experience of participants when creating and executing these plans and identify obstacles to the process as well as the benefits and drawbacks they observed when doing so regularly. We hypothesized, based on prior literature, that that participants would react positively to a more concrete and detailed method of TMP when prompted to do it. While not completely incorrect, we found some participants intentionally avoid aspects of TMP that seem critical to its success. 5.1 RQ1: How do people currently engage in TMP? In interviews, participants described and demonstrated how they would plan for the next day using a variety of digital and paper tools. Some, such as determining tasks, were common, but others, like explicitly estimating completion time or prioritizing were rare. We observed both methods and mechanics in our participants’ ex- periences. Mechanics are the specific actions participants took, or the way they interacted with their data and tools when planning. Methods are the ways participants used these mechanics together to create their plans. 5.1.1 Observed mechanics. We observed a set of common, specific mechanics that our participants took when engaging in TMP. These mechanics provide deeper insight into the more abstract behaviors identified by the literature as involved in TMP we discussed earlier. Each mechanic is associated with one of the components of the TMP definition: Determining tasks (C1): • Review current tasks: Collect and review various sources of information likely to provide reminders of tasks to com- plete. This could include prior to-do lists, calendars, text messages, meeting notes, sticky notes, flyers, pictures, and one’s own memory. • Create a task list: Write or type out a representation of each task intended to be done during the day in a single, concrete list separate from events. • Review scheduled events - to remember tasks: Open and review scheduled events on a calendar as a reminder of tasks that still need to be completed. Scheduling the order of tasks (C2): • Scan for large deviations: Reviewing sources of informa- tion for obvious deviations from one’s routines that will require more careful planning. • Schedule tasks relatively: Associate a task with a block of time (e.g., morning, before 2pm, after work, etc.). Sketching out time for tasks (C3): • Review scheduled events - to gauge time constraints: Open and review scheduled events on a calendar to see how much time is available around pre-existing commitments. • Review scheduled events - to gauge contextual con- straints: Open and review scheduled events on a calendar to identify when one will be in certain contexts during the day, which limits or enhances one’s ability to work on a task. • Schedule tasks concretely: Assign a specific time of day to work on a task (both start and end time). 5.1.2 Observed methods. We observed 3 different ways that partic- ipants used the mechanics above to engage in TMP. These methods are best distinguished by the format of the plans they produced: creating a schedule, creating a to-do list, and pause and resume. We describe each in more detail below and provide an example below. The examples are descriptions based on an individual participant’s planning process that was generally representative of the others. The names used are not participants’ actual names. Creating a schedule. 6 of our 19 participants created a schedule when planning. This method incorporates most of the behaviors defined as part of TMP earlier. 4 of these participants created con- crete schedules with specific times (I-3,4,6,8), while 2 created more abstract, “soft” schedules (I-13,19). Those that developed a concrete schedule utilized these mechanics: review current tasks, review scheduled events - to gauge time constraints, context constraints, and remember tasks, and schedule tasks concretely. The final plan format is a combined list of tasks and events for the day in chrono- logical order with specific start and end times. Example: Rachel creates her schedule using her p ap er p lanner and a p iece of scrap p ap er. She writes tomorrow’s date at the top of the p ap er and records a routine item (going on a run) and then a meeting she cop ies over from her p ap er p lanner with start and end times. She continues chronologically through the day, adding tasks from p revious day’s schedules, other task lists, or from memory when there are breaks in between scheduled events. She doesn’t make any p lans after 5 p m to leave that time more flexible. (I-8) Participants who created soft schedules (I-13,19) planned in their heads and did not write the plans down (even if the involved tasks and events exist separately in calendars and to-do lists). These plans did not involve concrete assignments of when the specified Less is More: Exploring Support for Time Management Planning DIS ’21, June 28-July 2, 2021, Virtual Event, USA tasks were to be worked on, and they used fewer mechanics: re- view current tasks, review scheduled events - to gauge time and context constraints, schedule tasks relatively. The final plan format is a mental reconciliation of the events and tasks for the day in chronological order. Example: David thinks through how the day will go. He refers to a Google Calendar he shares with his wife to see what events are hap p ening and where he’ll be during the day. He scrolls through the Microsoft To-Do ap p on his p hone to remember what tasks he’s currently working on. He takes a minute to think about how much time he has available in between each event for the coming day. He doesn’t see any conflicts between what he needs to get done and how much time he has and goes on with his day. (I-13) Creating a to-do list. The most common (10 of 19) method of planning took the form of creating a daily to-do list (I-1,2,5,7,9,10,11, 14,16,17). Participants practicing this method used the following mechanics: review current tasks, review scheduled events - to re- member tasks, schedule some tasks, and create a task list. This task list is distinct from more general lists or other sources of informa- tion and explicitly captured in some tool, whether paper or digital. Some participants did schedule a task or two and transfer it to their calendars. The final plan format is a list of tasks to be completed during the day, potentially in tandem with some tasks added to the current day on a calendar. Example: Amanda uses Google Calendar and the Samsung Notes ap p on her p hone when creating a daily to-do list. She reviews her calendar and notices a meeting later in the week she needs to p rep are an agenda for. She schedules a lunch workout on the calendar, and makes a sep arate to-do list for the day in the notes ap p based on p rior task lists and what her calendar reminded her of. (I-7) Pause and resume. Finally, 3 of our participants had no form of conscious planning (I-12,15,18). They instead used the following mechanic: scan for large deviations. While this mechanic involves checking a calendar, it is distinct from reviewing scheduled events because its purpose is to identify major disruptions to a routine rather than systematically review potential related tasks, available time, or context. These participants also reported intentionally leaving materials related to their tasks as a reminder of what to do next. The final plan format is a mental sense of the day’s flow, with a note of unusual disruptions if necessary. Example: Crystal scrolls through her calendar after she wakes up to see if she has any meetings that might change her regular work schedule. There aren’t any, so she continues with her normal routine. Later, she sits down to work and unlocks her comp uter. She glances through her most recent emails, the tabs she left op en in her web browser, and her last entries in a lab notebook. After reviewing these for a few minutes, she begins work where she sees that she left off. When she finishes up work for the day, she makes sure to leave things as she had them for the next day. (I-18) 5.2 Planning methods change with demands Although our participants described the above methods as what they currently do each day, many participants mentioned that how they plan and manage their time is not static. Sometimes these changes happen depending on the semester or time of year (I- 1,10,18,19), but also simply as needed when their workload increases or decreases on a daily or weekly basis (I-2,3,4,5,6,12,18). Generally, as one’s workload increases, the concreteness and regularity of their plans increases. I-3, for example, regularly switches between making daily to-do lists and planning specific times to complete tasks depending on how stressed they feel about upcoming tasks. I-10 does not usually create specific plans, but will use a sticky note to draft out the exact tasks that need to happen in an upcoming time block if they are particularly busy. I-18 normally does no form of planning, but if they notice they have fallen behind on a particular project, they will begin scheduling blocks of time to work on it. Similarly, they reduce the concreteness or regularity of their planning when they have less pressing commitments. Those who schedule their tasks may reduce to simply making daily to-do lists, and others may shift from making lists to relying on memory. In short, the process and product of our participants’ planning fluctuates as they adapt to their current needs. If the earlier methods of planning were placed on a spectrum from utilizing no TMP behaviors and specifying nothing about one’s plans to explicitly engaging in all TMP behaviors and specifying everything about one’s plans, our participants could be imagined as maintaining a baseline at the position they described in the interviews, but drifting forward and back along it in coordination with their workload or feelings of overwhelm. Our participants’ experiences revealed that they do engage in TMP behaviors, but only some occur regularly, and some seemingly not at all. Additionally, they utilize different methods - combinations of these behaviors and associated mechanics. Their descriptions of how they adjusted their strategies with demands suggested this may not be due to a lack of awareness or ability to apply all the TMP behaviors, but more insight was needed. The following results investigate how these same participants responded when asked to regularly engage in all of the TMP behaviors when planning. 5.3 RQ2: How do participants respond when asked to plan employing all of the TMP behaviors? During the diary study, our participants acknowledged benefits to engaging in more TMP behaviors than they usually did. These benefits were very similar to those identified by the literature: feel- ing more committed to tasks, recognizing and resolving conflicts in advance, and recognizing opportunities to use their time more effectively. However, we also found that very few participants con- sistently, if ever, fully engaged in all the TMP behaviors during the diary study. They either only partially engaged behaviors, left out behaviors, or did not engage in planning at all on certain days. During interviews, participants both described and demonstrated how they currently enact planning in their personal time manage- ment systems. Later in the interview and for the duration of the diary activity, participants planned according to the specific guide- lines we identified that engage each of the TMP behaviors. As a result, this section includes findings from the interviews, diary activity, and final comments made in the end-of-study survey. Participants found a wide variety of benefits to following our TMP guidelines. Ten participants expressed that they felt increased commitment to completing planned tasks due to simply having tasks and times listed out and decided upon. D-14 found, “it help ed DIS ’21, June 28-July 2, 2021, Virtual Event, USA Lund and Wiese because I didn’t have to waste time deciding what to do”, and D-3 commented “I may not have felt p articularly motivated to do certain tasks (like go to the gym) but since I’d already written the task out, the decision had already been made, so I just went.” Five participants realized they had conflicts when attempting to reconcile their plans. For example, I-16 realized, “I might have a conflict...Just like writing out the sp ecific times like that and thinking through it more. If I have an ap p ointment from 8 to 9 am, but I also need to be to the clinic with my clip boards at 9am, that’s not factoring in drive time. So, one of these might be cut from my to-do list. Probably the ap p ointment.” The process of planning helped participants think of their tasks as less abstract (D-6,8), more achievable (D-9), and more clearly prioritized (D-18). For example, D-18 explained, “Planning help ed me visualize and be realistic about my goals. I accomp lished the items that I had set as a p riority. That made me not dwell on the items I did not accomp lish.” By consciously determining, prioritizing, and deciding times to complete tasks, participants were better able to approach completing them and gained greater insight into their priorities. Further, some participants noted that planning helped them ac- complish more tasks than they would otherwise because they made use of typically unproductive time. D-19 noted, “it help s remind me of the need for getting homework done between other tasks”, and D-4 observed, “I think I did more this morning than I would have other- wise desp ite the environment p reventing me from being as p roductive as I would have liked. For examp le, I read some stuff online on my p hone while I was getting ready that I otherwise would have p ushed off.” D-3,9, and 10 made similar observations. Reconciling tasks to complete with the constraints in the day prompted participants to look for additional time to complete tasks and decide to use that time more effectively to accomplish what they intended to do. Participants D-4,6,9,16, and 18 also found they felt more moti- vated to continue following their plans due to the satisfaction of seeing their progress. D-6 described how they, “feel accomp lished checking things off of my lists, and that feeling is motivating for con- tinuing my scheduled work.” Similarly, 11 of 19 participants specif- ically mentioned in interviews that they found marking tasks as completed to be motivating even in just the context of their to-do lists (I-1,4,5,7,8,9,10,12,13,16,19). TMP provides a concrete view of the day for individuals to refer to, giving their efforts context and order even beyond that of a to-do list because their other obligations such as appointments and daily routines are also included. Seeing progress through these various commitments generates additional motivation and helps the plan’s creator better acknowledge what they accomplish. 5.3.1 Limited engagement with TMP behaviors. Although partici- pants were asked to engage in each of the TMP behaviors, provided easy access to the planning “instructions,” and did an example with an interviewer, only 2 participants fully and explicitly engaged in each TMP behavior for all 5 days and only 4 others (6 in total) even partially engaged in every behavior for each day. On days when participants did not fully engage in TMP behav- iors, they either 1) only partially engaged in behaviors, 2) left out behaviors, or 3) did not plan at all. Responses accompanying their plans and comments from the interviews provide some context for the reasons why these occurred. When participants partially engaged in TMP behaviors, they showed some evidence of engaging in it, but only did so with some parts of their plans or in a way that didn’t fully accomplish its aim. For example, D-3 developed a full schedule for the day, but used generic descriptions such as “Work” for long stretches of time rather than determining what to do at/for work - partially engaging in determining tasks. D-11 partially engaged in scheduling tasks and sketching out time for them by making estimates of how long they would spend on groups of tasks, but only specifying that they would happen “in the morning” or “before 3pm”. Prioritization was also partially engaged by a few participants who assigned every task the same priority level (D-1,4,14). When participants left out TMP behaviors, there was no evidence of engaging in a certain behavior. One example is D-1. After initially fully engaging with all the TMP behaviors as directed for the first day, they stopped scheduling tasks at specific times or prioritizing them for the remainder of the diary activity. Sometimes, only one behavior was absent, typically prioritization (D-2,6,7,8), but other times several were absent such as when D-10 only determined tasks for a given day and didn’t engage in any other TMP behaviors. Most participants did not provide reasoning for why they left out certain behaviors. We suspect they simply did not feel them necessary or helpful as other participants noted they felt prioritization or assigning specific times to tasks to be tedious on certain days, even though they did do it (E-3,4,5,19). Finally, participants sometimes did not engage in planning at all. 2 participants (D-13,17) ultimately did not participate in the diary activity. Of the remaining, 6 had at least one day where they consciously did not engage in any form of planning. D-11 also missed a day of planning, but this was due to a misunderstanding of the instructions. Although the fact that most participants did not engage with the TMP behaviors as they were asked might initially appear to be due to misunderstanding or even laziness, the experiences our participants’ shared surrounding planning with these behaviors revealed they often had valid personal and contextual reasons for doing so. For example, some participants did not fully engage in scheduling or sketching out time for tasks because they found it “...m...

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