The Logic of Time Management

No-Frills Calendar

Your Approach to Time Management and Why it Matters

Contributor: Jim Kearney 4/18/2018

I don't mean to be argumentative but I think we generally try to over define Time Management.

So many words are crammed into the definitions in an effort to explain it; like:

  • planning
  • process
  • organizing
  • goals
  • tools
  • efficiency
  • coordination
  • tasks
  • activities
  • allocate

That list came from a few published definitions.

To be clear, there is nothing wrong with any of the words above but they all point to things that involve the process of time management. There are not enough words to describe that.

The operative word in the definition below is "directing".

Not once during my search of time management did that word come up.

(I have seen "directing" used in broader terms involving management in general).

Directing is a verb and denotes active participation and supervision. To direct requires focus and attention.

"Time Management is directing yourself and others to important specific ends within the time available." (It's On My List)

Okay, lets analyze that statement. I've already discussed Directing.
What about?...

"Directing yourself and others." - I've always considered directing other people more of a challenge than directing myself. One takes discipline and job skills. The directing of others takes a whole lot more. Too much to go into any great detail here but here are some buzz words:

  • Planning
  • Interpersonal skills
  • scheduling
  • coaching
  • follow up
  • I think you're getting the idea.....

What about, "Within the time available."? - If that sounds a little ambiguous? I submit it's not.

Many managers have had times when they had a deadline only to realize it is looming and moved quickly into panic mode.

It's all about a manager's mind-set and his or her approach to time management.

Once an end date is set, by you or by your boss, that establishes the time range and a countdown. You need to build a culture within your team that, for any project, there is no other time available to get it done.

Building a culture. on any aspect of how your area of responsibility works, needs to be top-down issue; it needs to come from you. Directing your time management needs with your desired culture in mind will drive your team's attitude is on how well they engage all big and small project or tasks.

Lets' Talk About Setting Benchmarks

The time available may be 5 days, 30 day, 3 weeks etc. and that time span needs to be broken down into benchmarks with a plan to hit each one.

Here is an example of what I'm talking about...

I have been involved in a lot of store openings in my career. All had a planned Grand Opening date. The action plan was very involved for every store with a lot of different moving parts. There was a countdown for every aspect of the opening. From the financial to ground-breaking to stocking; the list goes on. Everyone knew what week we were in relative to the opening. This happens in week two - that happens in week twenty six. It had to be done within that time line in order to move everything forward. It was the only time available.

With that thought - what's your real target date?

Parkinson's Law points out that people usually take the time available and most likely more to complete any task.

Most activities and tasks come with a built in end date. A good time manager never plans to produce the end results on that date. If you use that date as your target there may be a good chance that you will either miss it or stress your organization while hitting the date.

If at all possible plan to finish ahead of schedule and plan your benchmarks to help stay on that date.

Be realistic. If the date selected by others is too challenging make your case. Just make sure you have all the facts and reasons. You may get some push back.

For those projects where you set the time and benchmarks consider the advertisement by a well known lawn mower manufacturer, "It's not how fast you mow, it's how well you mow fast".

Timely completion of any project is important to all organizations. You and your team's knowledge of what needs to be done, what it takes to get it done along with a lot of up-front planning will help set a well planned time line.

It's important that you continually learn and build on your skills. Learning from your mistakes, as you direct, is natural and will be important to the process.

How well you actively direct yourself and others will affect the results:

  • How much time you get to work on the most important things.
  • How engaged you and others are to achieving goals.
  • How much stress you and your organization will feel.
  • How many times you miss deadlines.
  • How much work actually gets done.
  • What the quality of that work will be.
  • How much control you will maintain in your area of responsibility.
  • How your peers and associates will feel about you.
  • How you feel about yourself - Your self image!
  • Your chances of advancement.  Oh, Smack!

To the new and up-and-coming managers what comes next is for you.

The last bullet point above is true. Look, you went to college. You did well in school, good for you; seriously!

That got you in the door.

You are no longer going to be measured by just what you know.

You are now being measured on your job knowledge and your results over time.

But it gets better. Oh yes it does!

Your results are being measured against other managers and their results.


Final Thought:

Most Time Managers I have known over the years fall into three types.

The first type did not seem to be time aware. They did things at a slower than average pace. The tempo was off

  • That slowed down everything around the "Time Manager".
  • Typically deadlines are an abstract notion until one becomes serious.
  • Meetings usually start late.
  • Productivity is not being measured.
  • There is a, go along to get along, attitude.

The second type Time Managers attacked time as if they had no time left. The tempo was off.

  • Typically everyone around these "Time Managers" are constantly being pushed against unrealistic deadlines.
  • They are stressed and mistakes are common.
  • Morale is not good.

The third type, well, their work tempo is smooth and consistent, involving proper planning and goal setting. They direct their efforts on working the important things first with an eye on results. They direct all aspects of projects and goals.

  • Everyone around this manager understands their role.
  • Morale is good.
  • There are no surprises like angry outbursts.
  • Important work gets done and those involved are recognized for that good work.

Before any manager can hope to manage others effectively, their personal time management skill sets must be in place.

I always like to end with good news...

Getting Started

Managers who can effectively manage their own time well will, by extension, have a positive affect on the those around them and the organization.

Updated 7/22/2018

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