Time Management an Illusion?

So many managers from low-level to executive are so stressed, no wonder people drink at work and toke up in the bathroom, too much stress over how much they have to do and how little time they have to do it.  There are a million articles about time management on thousands of blogs and websites about this, magazine articles have been published, books, speeches, seminars, webinars; companies hire expensive consultants.  Every professionals resume touts his or hers excellent time management abilities, they talk about it in job interviews, managers tell their employees they need to get it to move up in the company.  Here is my question to the masses; how exactly does one get time management, do you call your pal Harry Potter and take a trip to Hogsmeade Village to buy that magical apparatus that allows you to bend time? 

Short of magic I am not really sure how you can manage time; it is the same no matter what you do.  There are 60 seconds in every minute and 60 minutes in every hour and 24 hours in everyday, whether you are managing time or not.   You can only do so much in a time period, so how do you solve the problem of having too much to do?  In my years of experience of being in business, of having employees, of working for a fortune 500 company, and even in being a husband and father I have learned that the reason people “don’t finish on time”, “didn’t make the deadline”, are “running behind” is usually not because there wasn’t enough time to get it done, it’s because of “Too much time”.  Too much time? Huh?  People spend too much time screwing around, they are not focused.  I used to complain that I didn’t have enough time to do this or that in my work day.  I used to have this great time management process that I thought was the solution to all my problems.  I started using Microsoft Calendar religiously and I scheduled everything, not just meetings and conference calls, but I used the task reminder each day and put everything in it from writing a report, to cleaning out my In Basket to going through the mail.   Do you think that solved my time management problems, not really, I still didn’t have enough time…

Now I am a multitasking kind of guy.  I remember several years ago my father was at my office and he was very impressed in how I could talk on the phone, compose an email and have an IM conversation with an overseas client all at the same time.  Now that’s time management right?  Not really.  It’s just an illusion.  Because unless I am truly magical I am stopping or slowing down one to do the other, so in reality I am not saving any time…  So what’s the answer.  Wasting time.  I found that I wasted a lot of my day, doing absolutely nothing.  You know you go to check an email, the next think you know you are at MLB.com reading about the new Yankees lineup, or you get up to go make a photo copy and stop to have a ten minute conversation with the cute blond, or you stop by to pick up that recruiting report and you end up talking to someone about what going on over the weekend.  I also found I would work on too many projects at one time, I would be writing a business plan, and get an email and stop and answer the email, or a text message, or answer a call from my wife, and sometimes that led into something as well.  What I discovered is focus on one task at a time, don’t worry about the rest and just do what you are doing until you are done.  If I am working on something important I shut outlook down, I push all calls into voice mail  I don’t answer texts, and I do not do anything except what I am doing.  I have found that by focusing, that it takes me way less time to do my daily tasks than it used to.

The problem was never time management, the problem was Focus Management; I have shared this with many others, and all of them have come back and told me that I hit it right on the head, they have more time now, they had less to do than they thought they did, and since they started practicing focus management instead of time management that they are much less stressed than they used to be at work.

2 thoughts on “Time Management an Illusion?

  1. There is no formula for time management. It is a skill. Donald trump, bill gates, these guys have the skill. Donald trump knows that if he saw a 100 dollar bill in the street, it would be a waste of his time to walk over there and pick it up, so he would continue on his path to a business meeting. As soon as someone can break down time management into a math formula, please email me at david.depaul@purpleleads.com … We generate the best leads in the business! (all of the financial hardship spaces)

  2. David,

    Great answer, I would also say that these guys are successful because they are very focused on what they are doing. I have read several of Donald Trumps books and he is extremely focused on the tasks that he is set out to accomplish.