Time Management Is An Illusion; Time Can't Be Managed!
The Illusion Of Time Management
Time itself can't be managed. I said it in the title ... there you go... I've said it again. This doesn't mean I think that time isn't useful. It most certainly is. But to me, the term 'Time Management' has always been a misnomer.
Going Back In Time a Little ...
From a very young age, various people (mainly parents) used some of their time teaching me how to ’read’ time on a clock. After a while, just like you, I got it of course.
From that point in time, they (mainly parents), started using the time to control me. They controlled me by telling me to be back at a particular time or to only be out for a period of time.
Then of course school controlled me through time constraints. School always started at a particular time, and it ended at a particular time. As you know, all the lessons started and ended at specific times.
At some time in my teens, I read that time is an invention, but until the late 19th century there was no agreed standard time around the World. This led to, for example, early American Railways issuing 75 different timetables for different time zones across the states.
Over thousands of years, lots of different people around the World put some of their time into inventing many different time systems.
The Importance Of time
I learned that time was standardised for most of the World by agreement around 1906; except that some countries didn’t accept the agreement! The last to join in was as late as 1950.
The time system that we use Worldwide today is designed to avoid chaos for navigation purposes, communications, control of workers of all kinds, and trillions or more other purposes. As you know, it is used for all sorts of useful controls and measurements. It is in effect a human life management tool.
As you know, we are each born with an unknown amount of time within which to make our mark. We have no idea how many days we will have. We do know that on any one day we have the same amount of time as is available everyone else wherever we are in the World.
We can control what we choose to fit into a period of time, be it small or large. We can influence what others fit into a period of time. In other words, we can use time as a management tool for controlling ourselves, others, and countless other things.
However, we have no control over time itself.
We can choose to be productive and feel that we have used our time well.
We can choose to be unproductive and perhaps feel that we wasted some time.
The feeling that we are wasting time or using it well is a subjective idea of course. To me, the term ’wasting time’ means periods of thoughtless, pointless or useless activity. To me, 'using time well' means thoughtfully doing things that are useful for me or others.
Time itself persistently and simply ticks away.
My time is mine alone. Your time is yours. We cannot exchange our time with each other. Unlike material objects of all kinds, time cannot be moved about, developed, increased, replaced, borrowed, shared, given away, changed nor managed.
Some say it can be exchanged for money. This is an illusion... a persons labour can be exchanged for money. Time is often used as a tool to help manage that labour.
There you have it. Time is a tool, it really is not a resource that can be managed.
The challenge we face is that focusing on Time Management per se is misleading and can be counterproductive.
Focusing on Task Management (for want of a better descriptor) and carrying out those tasks, is what gets things done within the constraints of time.
What We Can Do With Time
What we can do with time is to use it as a management tool (for all aspects of life) for (artificial) control, and as a measurement system, for whatever we want to do.
I use the word artificial in relation to time constraints, because most time constraints imposed by ourselves or others really are artificial, whether they serve a purpose or not.
We can manage everything we do within the constraints of time, but can't manage time itself.
On a day to day basis, using time as a constraint helps us to make useful decisions. Without time constraints, prioritising becomes less critical. By using time as a management tool it influences what order we decide to do things in.
Time To Summarise
Time is perhaps the most useful of all the tools we use, for controlling and measuring countless things.
Time is not money, but it has intrinsic and unmeasurable value as a management tool for all aspects of life.
The idea that we can manage time is an illusion. The value of time lies in what we choose to do within our own time. A broad descriptor for this might be 'task management'.
I hope this all makes sense to you.
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