The Starting Point of Time Management

Time management—at least in the way I understand it—is the allocation of time to what matters most. To me, it’s more than doing things faster; it’s more than getting more things done; it’s more than becoming more efficient; it’s more than having a good planner; it’s more than crossing items of the to-do list. Not that these things aren’t necessary.

Efficiency, planning, and focus—all are an essential part of time management. And, yes, you want to be efficient; yes, you want to plan your work and work your plan; yes, you want to focus on the task at hand. However, these are meaningless and can even become frustrating if you don’t first establish what matters most, i.e., what is most important.

I mean if you’re efficiently tackling the wrong tasks, what does it profit you? You’ll still be unhappy and unfulfilled and even miserable. If you plan the “wrong” activities, what good does it make? You might be organized, but you’ll still produce little meaningful results. If you focus on the wrong tasks and activities, what’s the point? You expend energy but get little satisfaction. You’ll be active but not productive.

To begin your time management journey on the right foot, you must identify what matter most. Recognizing what matters most gives the right context for your efficiency, planning, and focus.

The Objective Side of the Equation

Establishing what matters most is objective and subjective at the same time. In fact, in a general sense, as humans we value many of the same things: we value relationships, health, contributing. That’s the objective side of the equation. You must understand this because these are things you can’t by-pass—at least not without consequence. If you underestimate the importance of any of these, you’ll pay a hefty price for it.

For instance, if you neglect your health because you don’t deem it “most important,” you’ll have to live with the consequences of such negligence.

Thus, the objective side of the equation establishes that certain things (e.g., relationships, health, etc.) are most important by definition. You don’t get to vote on this. You just must make sure you align with this and that your time management strategy considers this.

The Subjective Side of the Equation

The subjective side of the equation points to the fact that we all have different goals and interests and personalities. In that sense, identifying what is most important has a personal dimension to it. The passion of one isn’t the passion of the other. The goals of one aren’t the goals of the other.

Therefore, the things that matter most to you may be meaningless for your neighbor. For example, writing songs or earning your PhD. or raising multiple kids may be extremely important to you. However, as you can imagine these aren’t important to everyone, neither do they need to be.

The subjective side of the equation requires that you begin your time management journey by establishing your vision and your values. What do you want to materialize in your life? What do you want your life to be about? What do you stand for? In which direction are you moving your life? Your vision and your values affect your decisions and actions; they affect how you use your time.

As you launch your time management journey, consider both the objective and subjective side of the equation. And when you do, you know which activities and tasks should occupy your time.

About The Author

Vladimir Elie

I help people learn and apply success principles and strategies so that they can get the results they want in life.