Time Management is a Waste of Time

There are important things and then there are really important things.

Know the difference.

Stop getting caught up in trying to schedule every thirty minutes of your day. You know what needs to get done. The other stuff can wait.

Amazing results will not happen because you have an amazingly organized schedule. Amazing results are what happens when you focus on doing the really important stuff.

* Need a boost to your work happiness? Then check out the Happy at Work Project and start one yourself.

* I talk about working on your foundation at work and Colleen does a great job of explaining why it is so important in her post – A ridiculously earnest reflection on psychotherapy.

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> Productivity is a State of Mind

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22 thoughts on “Time Management is a Waste of Time”

  1. As long as you do not pack too much stuff into your schedule then over time, you can develop into a person that is very effective at banging out your daily to-do list.

    Regardless of your level of effectiveness though, there will always be days which do not go as planned and some items will have to be dropped from that day’s agenda.

    During such times, I agree with Karl that figuring out what is most important and working on that will yield enormous dividends compared with toiling away at less meaningful tasks.

  2. Very true words – focus before organization. You can be the most organized person, but if you lack focus, that organization may be useless.

  3. Karl,
    It’s easy to “think” something is important…and spend our time on that. How often is that just busy work, though, and what is keeping us from taking the next step toward our own developing excellence? Great thought!!

  4. I used to break up my day into 30 minute chunks, and I still occasionally time myself (which I find really gets me going.) But I’m so much happier now that I use my list of three. I might keep a long to do list of all the things that need doing, but each day, I keep a notepad handy and write down the three most important things I need to accomplish.

    By narrowing my list to three, it forces me to figure out what is actually important and what is just perceived to be important. I can only add a new item to the list once one item is checked off. This has increased my focus and when I’m focused, I’m happy!

  5. My boss just said to me today, “I’m outcome oriented, and recognize there are multiple ways to get to an end point.” I loved that, because I’m not a great time manager with big tasks… Yet I always know what “needs” to get done, as well as what I want to get done.

    Knowing “why” has helped, too (justifies where I put my time).

    Awesome, clear, well written post, Karl. Thank you!

    *PS* Would you consider changing your name to “Lark” or letting me call you that as a nickname?! Every time I type your name, it comes out Lark the first time. EVERY TIME! (smile)

  6. Hi Karl,

    I completely agree with you. Some (actually, make that most) of those fancy time management tools and appointment books are ridiculously time consuming just to set up and maintain. I’m an INFP in the Myers-Briggs types, so trying to rigidly schedule every half hour of my day is anathema to my temperament anyway. The only thing that ever used to go in my daytimer or on my calendar at work were dates and times of appointments. I kept a project list that I updated once or twice a week, and I worked from that. If you’re the kind who gets so “in the flow” with a project or task that you lose track of time, it’s good to use some kind of reminder (preferably auditory)as a transition and prep time if you are going to a meeting.

    Have a great day, everyone.

  7. Karl – I respectfully disagree with you, though I know EXACTLY where you’re coming from. I hated time management with a passion until I realized that practicing time management didn’t necessarily mean RIGIDLY managing my time.

    People often associate time management with scheduling every minute of the day, as you say in the third paragraph. This is an incomplete picture of a time management system, though.

    Let me preface this by saying that I have all of my clients reserve ten minutes of their morning routine to look over their schedule and figure out if they need/want to rearrange anything in their schedule. If they want to watch a game of the World Series, but they’ve scheduled racquetball in for the same time block, it’s a rather routine thing for them to move that to another part of the day, or eliminate it altogether.

    The dayplanning that you don’t trust here is really only supposed to be a blueprint for ONE way to get everything into the day. It’s only a suggestion, and can be changed at any point.

    The first thing that I do with a client is have him/her draft up a list of long-term goals. Let’s say that one of those goals is to run in the Boston Marathon.

    This is what I think makes an effective time management system: I take that goal, and work out with the client what would need to be done on a monthly, weekly or daily basis in order to achieve the goal. If one of my clients wants to run in a Boston Marathon, for instance, I would suggest that he run for 6 miles each day on a treadmill or outside. This is obviously a simplification – I would also have him do things like research the entry process, run longer distances on the weekends, et cetera. For the sake of this argument, though, let’s say he’s running 6 miles per day.

    At this point, we know that he has to spend about an hour or 1.5 hours on a treadmill or running outside. We decide when, ideally, he’d like to run each day. (By the way, I think exercising after work is best because it breaks up the afternoon). Now, let’s say that his weekday running is scheduled for 5:00-6:30.

    One morning, as in the World Series example above, this client realizes he has a meeting that runs from 5:00-7:00. (I have my clients schedule the 10 minutes to rearrange their days precisely because this kind of thing happens all the time.) Now, he can decide to run on the treadmill later that night, from 8-9:30 or something like that. OR, he can completely omit his running from his dayplanning.

    Now, this is where the importance of the goal list becomes obvious: If he crosses off the running from his schedule, he knows exactly which goal his running is serving. Knowing that canceling his running could jeopardize his marathon plans will allow him to make an informed decision.

    The importance of the day plan isn’t as obvious, but here it is: on those days when my clients don’t have a lot of demands on their time, they have established a framework for getting everything in their schedule done.

    I might have buried my head too far into the time management consulting industry, but I honestly believe that a client’s quality of life directly depends on how they spend their time. More specifically, it depends on whether they’re spending their time achieving their goals. I chose to focus my consulting efforts on time management, rather than positive psychology, because it’s been my experience that behavior modification is a temporary solution, and that clients with excellent time management are UNIVERSALLY happy people.

    The takeaway from my rambling is that day plans and the underlying time management are not rigid and are not inflexible. They simply allow clients to visualize one solution to their daily requirements for completing their goals.

    If you or any of your readers are still unconvinced that something like this works, I would invite you to e-mail me at nate [at] cumalu.com to discuss time management further and how it can be beneficial. I’ve only started doing this full time a few months ago and don’t yet feel comfortable charging a fixed rate for the service. At the completion of the 30-day program, clients pay me whatever they feel the service was worth.

  8. Yes Karl and we have big dreams to uncover and explore and achieve so thanks for reminding me there is not time for stalling, procrastinating etc. Happy Easter to you and your family! xo

  9. Jarrod@ Optimistic Journey

    I agree Karl, priorities are something that doesn’t require a schedule or a notepad to fulfill. Most should know what their priorities are in life.

    Thanks for reminding me of this. Great post, thanks for sharing!!

  10. The power of focus, rather than too much organization – It’s so hard to shift habits and to drown out the distractions in this fast-paced social media crazed world but alas, you are only too right to point it out.

  11. Hi Megan, Being outcome oriented is a great strength. When you know “why” things are important you can go a better job of prioritizing.

    As for the name Lark, hmmm, that’s a tough one. Since it’s you Megan, I’ll let you call me Lark once a month. So pick wisely, hahaha.

  12. Hi Nate, I don’t think we are that far a part in our thinking. We need to spend time achieving our important goals, not messing around with the busy work. That means being flexible and focused with our time. I know that weekends are tough for me because I want to catch up on my work, but also spend time with my family. It’s a constant juggling act.

    Thanks for offering my readers your services. I know that most of us could use a third party to help us stay focused on getting the important stuff done.

  13. Hi Farnoosh, Applying focus from a position of strength is very important. To be able do this we can’t let social media distract us from accomplishing these goals. We must stay on top of where we put our energy and how it’s helping our career.

  14. Hi Jarrod, I believe we need to take time a reflect on our priorities, if we keep the same habits we won’t accomplish amazing results. The more we listen to our needs and make small adjustments the more our career happiness will happen.

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