An exact-phrase search for “time management” yields nearly 7 million results on Google and more than 9 million hits on Alta-Vista search engines. A search for “time management” in Amazon books returns more than 65,000 results. There are thousands of time management workshops and seminars.
Clearly, time and the management of time is an important issue, and the supply of time management products—books, articles, CDs, workshops, etc.—reflects the huge demand for these products.
The proliferation of time management aids points out how commonplace time pressures have become, and how people are struggling desperately to cope with and find time for the demands placed on them.
Why do so many people have so much trouble managing their time? We are to blame, in part, for creating our modern lifestyle. We believe that a full life is a busy life, with work, family, hobbies, civic duties—all of which place real and conflicting demands on our time.
Many of us believe that the answer to this problem lies in compressing more activities into each day—having more things to do than there is time in which to do them is a problem that can be solved by becoming more efficient.
If you have ten things on a typical day’s to-do list and normally finish only five of them, then figuring out how to do six is a productivity increase of 20 percent.
That’s great if you’re comfortable not doing four things. But that’s
not time management.
Some people believe that the answer is to apply more time doing those ten things. If they’re work-related tasks, then, obviously, it’s necessary to spend more time at work.
Because time cannot be created, however, and only reallocated, spending more time on one activity means spending less on another. So, spending more time at work is great if you don’t have a family, any relationships, hobbies, personal interests, or need sleep.
But that’s not time management either. At least it’s not healthy time management.
Time management is activity management and involves defining what tasks need to be done and finding a realistic way in which to do them.
Having more tasks to do than time in which to do them ensures failure. And having so much to do that you spend your entire waking life ticking off items from your to-do list will lead to frustration and burnout.