An Argument Against Time Management

Posted by on Jun 28, 2011 in Career Management | 20 comments

Time management offers ways to increase efficiency and productivity, but time management isn’t valuable if you’re not spending your time on a life you value.

I prioritize, create to-do lists, minimize distractions and follow many other forms of time management. I generally get done what I need to get done, but I often feel rushed, tired and constrained by time. When I stop and consider those feelings, they aren’t created by time or the lack of time, those feelings are created by my concept of time.

Time management isn’t effective when it’s about to-do lists, planning, or scheduling- it’s about focus. I let go of the idea that I can control time- I can’t. What I can do is direct my energy by focusing on what is important to me- living a life that is fulfilling to me and loving my work-life.

I have the same amount of time each day, and I generally perform the same activities day-to-day. So what’s different on the days I feel peaceful, productive and balanced? The difference is my focus.

When I can give my full attention to what I’m doing when I’m doing it, I do not feel very concerned about time. In fact, when I practice mindful behavior, I accomplish more than I do when I focus on schedules or to-do’s.

I love my work-life when I am putting energy into what’s really important to me. I do this by asking myself, “how important is it?” If something is not important, or will not be important in a day, or week, or month, it might not be worth giving too much thought or energy today.

Another idea I practice is, “do the next right thing”. When I find myself distracted by unimportant tasks, I can practice doing the next right thing. A quick check of my intentions usually tells me if what I’m doing is worth my attention.

I can practice focusing on what’s important when I stop multitasking and allow myself to consider what I’m working on this moment. Attention to the present moment helps me be peaceful and productive.

Okay, so I admit I continue to practice time management because it helps me do more of what’s important with my time, but I will also be mindful that time management is useless if I’m not focusing on the right things. I cannot create more time but I can choose to spend the time I have on living a life I value.

Do you value how you’re spending your time today? What does time management mean to you?

20 Comments

  1. Great post. Being fully present is more difficult than it appears on the surface. We are mostly living life judging the past and evaluating the future through our preconceived notions. Truly being aware of the present moment is tough, but so refreshing if achieved. If managing a moment is tough, I fully agree that it is better to let go of the notion of controlling time.

    Anyway, so much for philosophy. After a nice long weekend, I will be back giving inputs on 5-year roadmaps at work :)

    • Thank you for stopping by, I am very grateful for your comment!

      I have seen and tried to change my life for the better by focusing on the wrong things. I do believe in time management, though it is not enough to live a happy life. Controlling time doesn’t make my life manageable or unmanageable, it only means I can fit more activity into my day. What truly makes my life happy is paying attention to my intentions and being present in the moment!

      Chrysta

  2. In this culture where people complain about being busy but secretly love it, I do agree that it’s important to daily assess if our daily to do list moves us further toward our priorities.

    I’m dropping in to say hello from SITS.

    • Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Mila!

      I agree our culture is to complain about life. I choose not to complain but focus on being happy and fortunately that’s a choice I get to make every day!

      Chrysta

  3. Oh well, I don’t worry about time management any more. I put up a list of things I want to do, then prioritize it, then make a recheck..is there something I don’t like doing and someone else could do it for me. If there is, I hash it off!

    Time manages itself when I know what I want and what I don’t want. The simple idea make a huge difference.

    • Thanks for your great comment, Jaky! I love how you simplified the idea of spending your time on what’s important to you. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

      Chrysta

  4. Very well put indeed Chrysta… I do write out each day what I need to accomplish and I do value my time. Time is one area we can never get back so choose how you spend it wisely.

    I’m always conscious of staying in the present moment and do my very best not to let my thoughts drift too terribly much. I have found that I can get so much more accomplished during the day and I quit stressing myself out over the small things.

    I love Janet’s comment too, she always has so much to offer. “You control your life by controlling your time.” Love that and 100% agree with that statement.

    Thanks for sharing this topic today. I think we all need to be reminded of what’s really important in the overall scheme of things.

    Now enjoy your day!

    Adrienne

    • Thank you for stopping by and commenting, Adrienne! I greatly appreciate your experience.

      When I think of actively participating in the present moment, a practice I call mindfulness, I am thoughtful of my goals and values, the big things and the little things. All those thoughts are there, peacefully co-existing in my thought and action. I can become temporarily distracted when I focus too intently on the details, putting too much attention on accomplishing urgent or day-to-day tasks and I get bogged down which leads me to stress. If a task isn’t truly important to me, I can choose instead to minimize the time I spend on it, and move on to something more fulfilling.

      The great thing about life is I have the opportunity to stop what’s not working and re-adjust my attitude and actions at any time during the day! I am certainly enjoying my day today, and I hope you do the same!

      Chrysta

  5. Chrysta, aloha. Well done, my friend. You are so right, you cannot mange time, you can only manage yourself. Time is and will continue no matter what we do or don’t do. It is our choice, each and every minute of the day, what we choose to do with our time.

    We all have things we want to do in any given day or as a long term goal. Of necessity, we need to do certain things that will help us achieve them–whether it is buying the ingredients to make a cake or developing a business plan for a new venture.

    Your phrase of mindful behavior is perfect because it says it so well.

    People who put first things first, have less stress in their lives because they know what is important to them. They will automatically prioritize their days to accomplish those items.

    That’s why, Chrysta, I believe each person needs to determine their core values and then live accordingly.

    For that reason, I believe everyone needs to read Hyrum Smith’s book “The 10 Natural Laws of Successful Time and Life Management” published in 1994.

    The reason I say this is because reading this book will help a person determine core values. Once that is done, it will is much easier to schedule your time and to take control of your life.

    The book is divided into two segments. Part I is Managing Your Time and Part II is Managing Your Life. Each contains 5 Laws.

    Here are the 5 Laws of Managing Your Time.

    Law1: You control your life by controlling your time.

    Law2: Your governing values are the foundation of personal success and fulfillment.

    Law3: When your daily activities reflect your governing values, you experience inner peace.

    Law4: To reach any significant goal, you must leave your comfort zone.

    Law5: Consistent daily planning leverages time and increases focus.

    Chrysta, if you have not read this book, I highly recommend it because you would appreciate being able to share the information with others.

    Best wishes for a terrific day, Chrysta. Aloha. Janet

    • Janet, I always appreciate your comments and I simply adore that you provide so many great references your comments- talk about adding value!

      I am quite drawn the 5 Laws of Managing Your Time! I find I’m already practicing most of these ideas in my life, at least I am when I’m in my wise mind and acting from my values.

      I especially appreciate Law 4, I’m a strong believer that I achieve the best success when I step outside my comfort zone. And in my life my “comfort zone” isn’t always that comfortable, much of the time it’s simply familiar.

      I am very grateful for your beautiful presence in my life today, Janet. Namaste.

  6. I’ve been spending a lot of time recently feeling stressed about my own inability to manage my time efficiently. I know that I am not succeeding, but until reading your post, I honestly couldn’t put my finger on what wasn’t working. I am going to print out your post and hang it on the wall next to my computer so that I can be reminded of how I should be approaching my time, and my life. Thank you.

    • Thank you so much for your comment, Erin! I am happy my post helped you get a handle on what wasn’t for you so you can get back to a life that does work for you!

      Many times I’ve found I’m paying attention to the wrong things, trying to create a result that I thought I wanted instead of checking in with myself. Focusing on my intentions, values and what’s important to me always leads me to happiness!

      Chrysta

    • Hey Erin, if Chrysta won’t mind putting up a link of my own here, I wrote an eBook on time management some time ago. Had forgotten about it and just got reminded. See if it helps.

      • Thanks for linking to your eBook, Jaky. I’m always on the lookout for a good read. :)

  7. Chrysta, you are a fantastic writer! I was so drawn in by your very first sentence. And those em dashes! I have a lot to learn from you! (I’m a lover of grammar and copywriting; I can tell you are too!)

    I’m here from SITS. SO SO happy to have found your blog. This is great stuff! I have the other two articles you linked open in another tab!

    I’m still busy pondering time itself, so your questions through my mind into a tailspin. I’ll think about it and come back! :)

    • Lynda,

      Thank you for your enthusiastic comment! :) As a writer I’m so grateful every time I read that my blog has inspired, engaged or helped someone in their life. I’m so thrilled by your comment!

      I’d love to hear back from you after giving the topic more consideration. I think we could learn a lot from each other.

      Chrysta

    • through = throw. So embarrassed. :)

      • Typos keep us on our toes, don’t they? :) Have a great day!

  8. I don’t have a set schedule. Which I think can be both a bad and good thing. When it comes to my writing and blogging I usually do it when I have an idea for a post or feel inspired by something. But, for other things in my life I can get lazy if I don’t have a schedule for it.

    • Thanks for your comment, Christina!

      Like everything else in life, effective time management is about balance. Managing time (schedules, to-do’s, etc.) is most effective when I also manage what I’m doing with my time. If it’s not important, and by that I mean if it’s not adding value to my life in some way, then it’s not worth my time. When I get lazy in my life I’m not usually managing my time or my focus.

      Chrysta

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