What is time management?

When I ask the question "what is time management?" in time management workshops or seminars, many people say that they think time management is about about planners, a time management system, or a technique.

While these are important tools for time management, time management is much more than this.

Time management is about living a life that is aligned with your priorities.

This makes time management  important for executives and corporate workers, teachers and students, or indeed anybody who wants to be spending their effort on those things that matter most to them.

Time management is not about managing your time. Sounds odd doesn't it!

But if you think about it, time cannot be managed. Whether you are young or old, time marches on at 60 minutes and hour, 24 hours a day. It can't be gained or saved. Once it is gone, it is gone forever!

So time management is really SELF management or LIFE management. It is about managing ourselves and our activities in relation to time.

This raises the stakes of time management. Rather than viewing time management as managing "to do lists" and apply various techniques, our response to the question "What is Time Management" is that is actually about managing your life in the most effective manner possible.

There are essentially two aspects to time management - efficiency and effectiveness.

What is time management - Efficiency vs. Effectiveness

 Stephen Covey' in 'First Things First' talks about the clock and the compass. The clock are the activities, the appointments and the tasks that fill up your day. This is about efficiency.

While efficiency may shave seconds off here or hours off there, the profound benefits from time management come from focusing on the compass (effectiveness). The compass is the importance that tasks take on and the direction that you want our lives to take.

A tension occurs when there is a gap between the compass and the clock - when we spend our time doing what isn't an important contribution to our lives. In short when we spend time on wrong tasks - our less important tasks. Statistics point towards a significant number of people who experience a gap between the compass and the clock.

A good way to see how much time you are spending either following the compass or the clock is to use the quadrant approach to time management.

So to answer the question as to the meaning of time management may require a change in the way that you manage yourself in relation to time.

Rather than trying to shave off seconds on tasks and schedules, greater benefits of time management strategies may come from using your compass and lining up your top priorities and ensuring you spend your time in these areas.

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