Benefits of Time Management
Begin With the End in Mind
Which benefits of time management are you hoping to achieve? To save some time by consolidating activities? To eliminate typical “time wasters”? To feel more in control and that you’re doing more of the activities that matter?
All of these are valuable but arguably the real benefits come when we think laterally about what time management means. Here are two things to consider when evaluating the benefits of time management. Firstly, consider a counter-intuitive thought.
Try defining success in qualitative rather than quantitative terms.
It may be that broad, subjective benefits are ultimately of greater benefit than the narrow specifics we normally associate with time management theory.
Secondly, begin any activity or project with the end in mind.
If you’re going to put the time and effort into an activity, ask yourself, is it really what I want to do? If the benefit of time management is the quality of life we get from the time we invest, begin any task with the end in mind.
Perhaps one way to think about this is to use the threefold definition of happiness which Martin Seligman calls “Authentic Happiness”
- The pleasant life (pleasure and enjoying the here and now)
- The good life (engagement; the depth of involvement with family, work, romance and hobbies)
- The meaningful life (significance – using personal strengths to serve some larger end).
Fully realising the benefits of time management may actually mean asking yourself some hard questions. Why are you doing the things you’re doing? What do you really want from life? Authentic happiness suggests a focus on quality “Kairos” time, as discussed in our article What is Time Management? Taking a Radical View of Time
The Idle Fisherman – A Pleasant Life
“How long did it take you to get all those fish?” he asked.
“Not very long,” answered the Greek. “An hour or two.”
“Then why didn’t you stay out longer to catch more?”
Shrugging, the Greek explained that his catch was sufficient to meet his needs, and those of his family.
The executive asked, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”
I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, and take a nap with my wife. In the evening, I go to the village to see my friends, dance a little, play the bouzouki, and sing songs. I have a full life.”
The executive said, “Well I have an MBA from Harvard and I’m sure I can help you. You should start by fishing longer every day. You’ll catch extra fish that you can sell. With the revenue, you can buy a bigger boat. With the extra money the larger boat will bring you, you can buy a second boat and a third one, and so on, until you have an entire fleet of trawlers. Instead of selling your fish to a middleman, you can then negotiate directly with the processing plants and maybe even open your own plant.
You can ship fish to markets all around the world. In time, you can then move to New York City to direct your huge enterprise.”
“How long would that take?” asked the Greek.
“Twenty, perhaps twenty-five years,” replied the executive.
“And after that?”
“When your business gets really big, you can sell stock and make millions!” exclaimed the executive with zeal.
“Millions? Really? And after that?”
“After that you’ll be able to retire, live in a small village near the coast, sleep late, play with your grandchildren, catch a few fish, take a nap with your wife, and spend your evenings singing, dancing, and playing the bouzouki with your friends.”
The Benefits Of Time Management Defining Success More Broadly
A good life-balance means taking the time to appreciate what we’re doing now. It prompts these questions:
- What are we doing? – are we doing something that’s worth doing, however that may be defined?
- Why are we doing it? – what is our ultimate goal or reward?
- Who are we doing it for? – for ourselves, families, others?
- How do we measure our success? – is it by narrow, materialistic gain or by broader, subjective achievements?
Try thinking again about what you’re doing and what you hope to achieve. Being satisfied with what you’ve got can be a liberating experience. Knowing when enough is enough could transform your perception of success. Perhaps the real benefits of time management come by ensuring we don’t waste it, doing the wrong things for the wrong reasons. Guard against narrow definitions of success. Stop following the crowd, simply striving for more. Consider what you have to appreciate, here and now. Stop and smell the flowers!
How to realise the benefits of time management?
- Begin with the end in mind, and
- Define success broadly – recognising what you have, and when enough is enough.
The Benefits Of Time Management – Remember Who You Work For
A recent UK TV commercial showed short clips of children admonishing their work-obsessed parents. “Your fired” said the children, as parents came home late from work, or missed special moments.
The ads finished with the statement “remember who you’re working for”.
The happy manager approach is to ensure working doesn’t diminish our appreciation of what we have now – the pleasures in life. Think through what you really value in life, and what you need to do to enjoy it. Perhaps these are the real benefits of time management.