You Don't Need Time Management
How could I say such a thing? We all need time management. If there is one thing that we are short on, it is time. Therefore we need to manage our time better so that we aren’t so busy. We say, “I need to maximize every minute and not waste any of my precious time.”
While I agree that we are all too busy, I don’t think time management is the solution. Here is my problem with time management, it is always focused on “not wasting time.” Therefore, we approach life with the need to maximize every moment and be as productive as possible.
I tried this approach for years, but unfortunately I came to a sad conclusion. Maximizing every moment by eliminating wasted time, turns me into a hamster on a wheel and there is no enjoyment in life. I have come to the decision that I just can’t (and don’t want to) live life that way anymore.
So what is the alternative? The alternative is to design a lifestyle that I want. Then, I need to develop a strategy to maximize the productivity of specific, limited blocks of time so that I can pursue that lifestyle. The difference is that instead of trying to be productive all the time, I try to be extremely productive in limited time.
The result is freedom to spend time with family and friends, to volunteer and help someone else, and to do the things I really enjoy. These “time wasters,” are where I find true meaning in life.
How do we do this? How do we condense our productive work into smaller blocks of time? To do this we need to focus on two principles. The first one is probably familiar to you. The second one may not be so familiar. But, when you put them together you have a powerful combination.
First, is Paredo’s Law (Also known as the 80/20 Rule).
This law says that 80% of the results come from 20% of the effort. This principle can be found in all kinds of places… 20% of the volunteers do 80% of the work, 80% of the sales come from 20% of the clients, etc. Here is what it means for our relationship with time, 80% of what you are doing is getting minimal results. Stop doing that work and focus on the 20% that is getting results.
Second, is Parkinson’s law.
This law says that the work needed to complete a project will expand to fit the time alloted for completion. We know this to be true because deadlines help us be most productive. For example, we get the most work done on the week before vacation. Therefore, we need to limit the available time for our tasks.
Here is how this fits together. To free up time for the things that really matter, we need to limit our work to the 20% that is most effective and limit the time available to complete that work. I know it doesn’t seem possible for it to be that simple, but it is.
It is that simple, but changing our habits is hard work. We have been conditioned to believe that being busy is being productive. If we apply this truth to our lives, we will no longer be busy, and therefore we will feel (and others will tell us) like we are lazy. We have been conditioned to believe that to be contributing members of our society then we need must put in a 40 hour workweek.
However, if we only do what the majority does, we will get what the majority gets… constant busyness, eroding relationships, and a total lack of enjoyment of life. Life doesn’t have to be that way. Think outside the box. Design the life you want, and then figure our a way to limit your productive work time so that you can live it!
What ways have you found to carve out more time for the things you enjoy?
Share your thoughts in the comments.