Which of the choices below is likely to be the best at time management?
a. You, the Reader (or any professional who has his/her act together)
b. Bill Gates / Warren Buffet / Mark Zuckerberg (or any successful billionaire)
c. The world’s “smartest” computer
d. An inanimate hourglass
Your answer probably reveals a bit of how you view time management. If you chose d., then you probably misunderstood what is usually meant by time management. An hourglass measures time but does not manage it. If you chose c., then you probably focused on the efficiency and speed at which computers can perform certain tasks and calculations, but again, one would not necessarily say a computer was good at time management because human intervention is required.
If you chose a., then I am happy to know you have the confidence, experience, or belief in yourself to claim a very high-level of skill at organization and planning. You must excel at Outlook or a similar software program, carry a planner or blackberry with you at all times, have great attention to detail, and are very disciplined in staying on scheduling and moving on to the next task. However, even if the above statements were true in support of answer a., I personally would still have to go with b. as the best answer to this question. Billionaires just have more resources and people available to help them accomplish their tasks.
But a most striking, yet hidden, idea from the above discussion is this: no one who doesn’t own a time machine is, or ever will be, better than you at “time” management. We all have the same amount of time at our disposal, do we not? Time waits for no one, our days all consist of 24 hours, and no one can retrieve time that has passed. Time just marches on, with or without our consent. That is why it has been said that “time management” is a misnomer. Instead, it might be better to use terms such as “activities management,” “thought management,” or “self management,” among which I feel the latter is the most accurate.
What this means is that the above question was a trick one and a complete waste of your time (sorry!). But I hope it is clear that the key to time management is control of yourself, that important tasks should be defined and scheduled over intervals of the next day, week, month, and perhaps six months. You must treat procrastination as Superman would treat a kryptonite sandwich; avoid it at all costs or suffer the consequences.
Interactive Question: Do you have a list of time management “dos and don’ts?? Feel free to post your list as a comment, or send to [email protected]. Outstanding submissions may be selected and discussed in future posts.