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Can We Really Manage Time?

It’s a buzz word. Time Management. We manage everything to death! Can we really manage time? It seems to me that time manages itself on its own. I look at the clock and I never see the hands skip ahead or stop for a break. I would sometimes like it to begin to move backwards, but wishing won’t make it so! Can we stop or start it? I wish we could. We cannot manage time any more than we can schedule when the sun will rise or set!

Time Management is defined as self management and event control. What we manage is not time but, we manage ourselves and how we use time, and schedule and prioritize events. Time will pass regardless of what we are doing. There is no special way to freeze it or bottle it up to use a later time. So when we say “time management” we are really referring to the art of balancing events to increase our personal productivity.

Moving faster and faster does not improve our productivity. My father had a great saying, “the hurrieder I go, the behinder I get”. Many times if we try to move faster we end up making mistakes that would cause us to have to repeat the task in order to complete it properly. Increasing our speed does not necessarily increase our productivity. Increasing our speed is guaranteed to raise our stress levels, but not our productivity. So if self management does not mean stepping up the pace, what does it mean?

“There is more to life than increasing its speed.”
-Mohandas K. Ghandhi

* Self management really relates to several things.
* Self Discipline
* Emotional Control
* Problem Solving Skills
* Communication

Learning the art of self discipline and emotional control is crucial, but often learning new problem solving skills and communication can speed up many difficulties that related to time. Think about those four areas. Where can you improve?

Event Control

Event control really relates to the tasks and how we schedule those events. You know your events are not scheduled well if you arrive everywhere out of breath , and you feel like your day timer has a life of its own!

Firstly, to be effective in managing our tasks we need to decide what things are important to us; to set goals. It is important that we decide what it is that we want out of our life and schedule our time to reflect this. In deciding our goals, we then need to rank importance or prioritize over all of our tasks in general and relate them to our goals. It is important when setting these goals that you remember to have personal and family goals too. You have a life away from work or your business. And remember this, if you are not setting and working towards your own goals, someone else will have you working towards theirs. (And maybe that is why your schedule is so full!)

The second part of event control has to do with grouping like events together. If you set a day specifically to run errands, you are often able to combine trips. I remember reading stories when I was younger where women running the household set certain days for certain tasks. Often they planned their days a little better! You remember: wash on Mondays, baking days were Saturdays, etc. It is only since technology has advanced and we have become more affluent that we lack organization. How many of us think nothing of jumping into the car to run to the store, several days a week? If we just went to the local store, it still takes more time to make three trips than it does to make one! So the trick is to combine like items together. If you are scheduling appointments, try to arrange them so that they fall on the same day. You will be dressed for success and out already anyway, so try to do them all on one day! If you have administrative errands to do, do them all at one time too!

About a month before Christmas a friend asked if I had done my Christmas baking. My reply surprised her. I told her no, I would do it all on one day. I explained that if I did it over the course of several weeks, I would take the sugar out of the cupboard six or seven times, and I would have dishes to do as many times as well. In addition to this I would have the general clean-up that we have to do after baking to do six or seven times as well. Therefore I do it all one afternoon and it is over and done. I involve the kids and we make it our bake day. In the end, I spend less time doing it all and it is less stressful and it does not all get eaten before the next baking day comes! Take some time to review your events. Can you schedule errands to be done all at once instead of on three separate occasions? Look at where you spent your time yesterday and add up all the trips out you made.

Grouping our tasks into different types of days is instrumental in how effective we are in doing the important things at the right times. Grouping days keeps us focused and we spend less time running around doing errands and tying up loose ends.

Working smarter means that we organize our tasks in a way that we begin to use our time more efficiently.

Managing our events means that we must begin to work smarter. Most of us have been raised with a strong work ethic. We believe that working hard will get us what we want out of life. This may or may not be the end result. One thing is certain, there are only 24 hours in a day, and we can work hard and long but if it is not effectively organized then all we end up with is a tired body and frustrated mind. Learn to work smarter, not harder and you will find that 24 hours really can stretch!

Mandie Crawford, author of “When Every Second Counts” and owner of responds to what she views as a growing need for the public to slow down and simplify their lives. Mandie now teaches Time Management, Organization, organizes homes and offices and  is a certified behavior consultant. Mandie also coaches people and  assists them to get their lives in order, and motivates them to set and reach their goals.



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