“Time management is about life management.” ― Idowu Koyenikan
“One of the very worst uses of time is to do something very well that need not to be done at all.”― Brian Tracy
“Time is the most valuable coin in your life. You and you alone will determine how that coin will be spent. Be careful that you do not let other people spend it for you.” ― Carl Sandburg
“He who every morning plans the transactions of that day and follows that plan carries a thread that will guide him through the labyrinth of the most busy life.” ― Victor Hugo
“Habitual procrastinators will readily testify to all the lost opportunities, missed deadlines, failed relationships and even monetary losses incurred just because of one nasty habit of putting things off until it is often too late.” ― Stephen Richards
“Value your time poorly and you will be poor. When time is wasted as a lifestyle choice you will be stranded in places you don’t want to be. Take a look around. How do your friends, family, and peers value their time? Are they standing in line to save four bucks? Are they driving 40 minutes to save 10 dollars? Are they parked on the sofa anxiously waiting to see who wins Dancing With the Stars?” ― M.J. DeMarco
“The secret of success in life is time rightly used.” ― Sivananda Saraswati
“Success is determined by how best you can utilize your time” ― Sunday Adelaja
“Be a disciple of depth in shallow world.” ― Cal Newport
“Understanding the value of time is understanding the true essence of life”― Sunday Adelaja
Lose no time; be always employ’d in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions. —Benjamin Franklin
Life is controlled ultimately by our day to day experiences which add up in the long run. To really have a probability of higher positive outcomes in life just control how you spend your time.
How you allocate your time consistently, within 24-hour cycles, within a 365-day year influences the outcomes in our lives. The big picture ultimately is controlled by our consistent short-term actions.
Aristotle the Greek philosopher knew this and his key tenet was creating the right habits. Our thoughts lead to actions, our actions create habits, our habits reap destiny.
This is why careful analysis and thought should be placed on how we spend our time each and every day. Time is a finite resource it cannot be replaced so use it wisely.
What is Time?
Definition of Time: Noun
1a: the measured or measurable period during which an action, process, or condition exists or continues: DURATION
b: a nonspatial continuum that is measured in terms of events which succeed one another from past through present to future
c: LEISURE time for reading
2: the point or period when something occurs: OCCASION
3a: an appointed, fixed, or customary moment or hour for something to happen, begin, or end arrived ahead of time
b: an opportune or suitable moment decided it was time to retire—often used in the phrase about time about time for a change
Definition of Time Management: Noun
Time management (noun)
- the ability to use one’s time effectively or productively, especially at work.
“time management is the key to efficient working” · “students may need help in developing time management skills”
Clock and Calendars
Man has always held a strong bond and fascination with time and seasons. The passage of key seasons has guided man’s key activities since time immemorial. In the Southern hemisphere where I hail from the advent of the rainy seasons was the time to plant. The dry season was the time to harvest.
In the northern hemisphere spring marked the time to plant crops and summer was the time to harvest crops. Nature ruled man’s living and man just carried out tasks to sustain a living. Humans were tracking time using rudimentary tools such as the overhead position of the sun, the length of shadows etc.
Rudimentary devices were invented which included the sundials, water clocks, candle clocks, hour glasses. The modern-day clock was invented in Ancient Sumeria around the year 2000 BC. The first 60 second, 60 minute, 1 hr time passage was formally introduced to the world. The first mechanical clocks were built in the 14th Century AD.
Religious order played a big part in the introduction of the mechanical clocks. Monasteries had strict time keeping rules. The call to prayer both in the Christian world through bells and the Moslem world ensured that the first strict observance of time keeping was enforced in society.
Gradually the time keeping devices became more sophisticated. The wrist watch, pendulum clock and alarm clock were invented over time. This culminated in famous clocks such as the Big Ben clock of London been introduced.
Time keeping became even more sophisticated when international trade increased across the world. Time Zones were invented to improve weather forecasting and keeping track of travel across the world.
Courtesy of https://www.thoughtco.com
The correlation between time management and productivity
There is a strong correlation between time management and productivity. Those who manage their time well, as a rule, always have better productivity than their peers.
The key turning point in the modern time management era was the advent of industrialization in modern Europe. The industrial revolution which was marked by the invention of the steam engine and the power loom in England in the 18th Century introduced the concept of factories and assembly work which led to the mass production of textiles and other goods.
To ensure maximum productivity in the factories, strict time keeping was introduced. Clock in and clock out devices were introduced. Long working hours 12 to 16 hours per day were the norm.
Time perception changed and punctuality became a virtue. Factory owners became obsessed with time and even employed individuals (knocker uppers) whose sole duty was to wake up employees. Scientific Management also known as Taylorism was introduced by Fredrick Taylor.
The key thrust of this management theory was analyzing workflow to improve economic efficiency and labor productivity. Time and motion study was a key tool in this management philosophy. This theory is the precursor of all modern management tools such as Six Sigma, operations management, logistics, business process management, lean manufacturing, business process reengineering etc
All these processes are geared to maximizing throughput with limited resources with the key limiting resource been available time in hand.
Traits of the most successful people, communities and nations
If you really want to understand why time management is important look closely at the most successful individuals, corporations, communities and nations. These entities all place a premium on time management.
The most successful individuals in any setting are the ones who value their time most. They always ask themselves the important question. Is this the best use of my time? They look at effective use of their time. CEOs, Students, Leaders in all walks of life always look to maximize their time usage.
What separates the winners and the losers
What separates the winners and losers in life is simply how they manage their individual time. What activities do they allocate their time to? Time management is the father and mother of all individual and community outcomes.
This is the root of life? What are your priorities and do they receive the right amount of time to flourish and get to fruition. As water and light is to plants, time management is to goal attainment and skills attainment.
That’s the simple key in life the intentional use of our time. You can stop reading this article now that’s what matters in life. I repeat again proper intentional use of our time.
This is how important time management is.
Examples of Winners
Japan and Punctuality
What separates ‘developed’ countries and the ‘developing’ countries boils down to time management in society as a whole. There are countries that are synonymous with time keeping and Japan takes this value to an extreme.
It’s the only country where the public train utility transport company apologized for leaving the station 35 seconds ahead of time. If this happened in my home country Uganda it would be considered a miracle and in many other countries in Africa.
Japan’s public transport punctuality is legendary worldwide. This culture permeates to all aspects of their life. Their industrial might has literally been developed on utilizing all resources to the maximum and time utilization is a key tenet of this maxim.
Other countries that are legendary in time keeping are Germany, Switzerland, the Nordic countries, USA, Canada. On the extreme scale we have African countries, Latin America, the Middle East who do not value time keeping to the extreme.
Japan’s neighbor South Korea has literally modelled their culture to match Japan. It’s no wonder South Korean products like Samsung, KIA are now common brand names in the world. One key tenet in their culture is time keeping.
If you compare the GDP of countries that adhere to time keeping and those that don’t the correlation comes out clearly. It’s very hard to get a country with a great GDP that also has a poor time keeping culture. This is only distorted by factors if the country is a commodity rich country.
To really get a perspective on punctuality in different countries I would like you to read this article at Quora.com https://www.quora.com/Where-in-the-world-are-people-most-punctual . It’s a very interesting and compelling read.
Sports and Time Keeping
In sports we find true legends. What separates the legends from other sportsmen is their training regime and adherence to their schedule. Here in East Africa we are blessed with great long-distance athletes.
Their training regimes are legendary. I have personally stayed and visited Eldoret town in Kenya which is the home and training ground of most of their world-famous athletes. The training regime these athletes go through is not for the faint hearted.
They do early marathon runs usually 2 to 7 kilometers each morning. They are awake by 4 am and are done with the morning runs by 7 am. After they head out for short sprint training from 8 am to 10 am. The afternoon is marked by another marathon run. This is repeated consistently day after day, week after week.
There is literally no surprise when they pick up the accolades at the podiums. Other legends are Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant the late American Basketball star. Their training regimes were legendary they trained harder than all the rest. They put in the effort and it showed in the results and trophies they won over their careers.
You will never get any sports champion without a strict training regime and schedule. Their time use is mapped out carefully. They cannot achieve what they have achieved without careful management of their time.
Back to Japan the Toyota Production System is legendary. Its key thrust is the reduction of waste in all forms. Its main focus is the timeline from the factory to the consumer. It focuses on waste: getting rid of defects, redoing work and reinspection of work done.
As individuals we waste a lot of time redoing work rather than getting it right the first time. This approach to production propelled Toyota to the Number one Car Manufacturing slot in the world. They are constantly improving their production system but the key tenet is always to cut time from the factory to the consumer.
Just in Time inventory and philosophy was formulated by the Toyota company. This reduces waste in form of holding capital in inventory stocks. It forces efficiency and proper handling of the inventory in hand. Japan is a country with scarce commodity resources it relies on the ingenuity of it’s population to thrive.
Armies function on time and momentum. Any military objective is mapped out against a strict time objective. If you really want to understand how any military functions just watch their marching drills and formations.
All drills are timed to the last second. This also applies to military training. The training has evolutions that are timed. All fitness tests have benchmarked and timed standards. Failure to meet these standards means you are out of the game.
The best weapon delivery systems are also based on speed of projection. The age of hypersonic weapons is upon us. It’s hard to stop these weapons. The military with the weapons that can be propelled faster usually have an upper hand.
It can be artillery, jet fighters, missiles and all other equipment. Been fast and agile is a key prerequisite as it helps achieve objectives faster with minimal loss.
Logistic companies and other companies whose entire business model and existence depends on timely delivery of goods and services understand the value of time keeping. Logistic companies understand scheduling and goods tracking.
Whether it’s the large shipping companies like Maersk to the courier companies like FedEx and DHL they know that whoever reduces the time of delivery in the last mile will win at the end of the day. Convenience is the key selling point in this time and age.
Companies that will thrive are those that make life convenient for the end customer. This is why drone delivery and last mile delivery is a potent business in the future.
How and what is good Time Management
Great Time Management is centered on 3 key pillars
- Know your key priorities
Know and understand your three top priorities and build your time management around them. Use Steve Covey’s Quadrant to segment your list. Follow the 80/20 Pareto rule to deep dive into your priority list.
- Schedule these priorities as action points in your calendar- Get organized
List all your key projects, action items, tasks and schedule them appropriately. Buy files, folders, organizers and create a proper filing system, calendar to ensure you trigger the right actions.
- Create the self-discipline to execute these priorities ****(MOST IMPORTANT)
Follow the plan and own your time management system. Execute tasks as scheduled. Keep on refining and improving the system please understand Rome was not built in one day.
This is the area that breaks down individuals all over the globe we fail to work the plan no matter how great the system is.
Great ideas/systems not executed are worthless
Poor systems/ideas that are executed well have moderate value
Great ideas executed well are priceless
Tips on Time Management
The best time management systems in the world are summarized in these 20 points below:
- Control and tame the phone it’s the greatest distraction of all
- Minimize meetings only attend when really necessary, Use daily huddles instead
- Practice absolute punctuality: Show up on time, ready to work, very few do so
- Make and use lists after making the list schedule the key tasks/priorities refer to Pareto’s Rule/Steve Covey’s quadrant
- Fight to link everything to your goals: Measure goals daily
- Reminder Programs that work use that Outlook calendar, Phone Calendar
- Block your Time: Carve out time in advance and preassign tasks and appointments
- Minimize unplanned activity you automatically reduce waste
- Profit from odd time, read and listen to audio
- Live off peak- Avoid the rush and crowds- Supermarket end of month, bank end of month, avoid herd behavior
- Batch as many trivial tasks/errands as you can together
- Direct attention to one matter at a time
- Reduce Clutter and get organized: Your space and tools systemize the way you capture all ideas, your filing and action taking
- Most of the stress people experience comes from inappropriately managed commitments they make or accept. Even those who are not consciously “stressed out” will invariably experience greater relaxation, better focus, and increased productive energy when they learn more effectively to control the “open loops” of their lives.
Capture all your commitments and related actions to move them forward. Do this on paper or physically somewhere and act on them ( reference: Getting Things Done)
- Adhering to deadlines
- Accelerated Learning: Improve your reading speed, comprehension skills, memory this accelerates your knowledge acquisition and time management skills.
- Use Project methodology for your personal life as well. Kanban, Agile, Checklists, Business Plans read on SCRUM, KANBAN these methods work
- Think Ahead all the Time: Always ask yourself what is the final objective here?
- Avoid Social Media and only use it if it’s relevant to your work/job
- Delegate: Very important leverage other people’s time
It all boils down to the individual. What kind of life do you want to live? What standards do you want to live by? The key pivot in life is understanding how to manage your time positively. Once you master this critical area you master many other areas in your life.
No B.S. Time Management for Entrepreneurs: The ultimate no holds barred kick butt take no prisoners guide to time productivity and sanity – Dan Kennedy
Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity – Dave Allen
The Seven habits of highly effective people– Steve Covey
The 80/20 Principle: The secret to achieving more with less – Richard Koch
15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management: The Productivity Habits of 7 Billionaires, 13 Olympic Athletes, 29 Straight-A Students, and 239 Entrepreneurs- Kevin Kruse
Work the System: The Simple Mechanics of Making More and Working Less – Sam Carpenter
The Emyth revisited – Michael Gerber
Buzan Study Skills Handbook: The Shortcut to Success in Your Studies with Mind Mapping, Speed Reading and Winning Memory Techniques – Tony Buzan
Speed Memory – Tony Buzan