Time Management is Difficult

ETMEffective time management is very difficult for most of us. The busier we are, the more distractions we face and the more demands on our time all make time management more challenging.

David DiSalvo recently wrote on the Forbes.com blog about the difficulties in time management and the reasons for that as explained by author Dan Ariely.

In an interview Ariely says:

“I think we are obsessed with time management precisely because we are so bad at it, but the reality is it’s no wonder we are bad at it because it’s a really, really hard thing to do.  Not only is it hard to manage multiple things, but you also have dynamic changes throughout the day in which you have some hours where you are more alert and have high cognitive capacity and some hours where you are more tired. And then things change dynamically like deadlines or additional requests come in, so the prioritization problem is incredibly hard. In fact, I think it’s not humanly possible. So what do we do? We do our best. We say “Ok, what’s the next best thing to do?”

Ariely has some insightful things to say about time management. He also developed an app called Timeful to help people manage their time better. I tried the app and did not find it useful, but others may have a different experience with it.

These are the 5 main reasons I find that time management is difficult:

  1. Effective time management requires consistent effort and time. We do not want to spend time on managing what we do because we have so much to do. This is the first and largest barrier to effective time management.

  2. There are so many distractions both in technology and otherwise in today’s world that managing our time and tasks is even more difficult. Managing the distractions becomes a consuming problem.

  3. There are so many options, especially with technology, to manage our time that it is too easy to use too many of them. Having apps on a smart phone, a calendar on a computer and perhaps a paper calendar as well requires too much time to manage.

  4. All forms of time management technology, from the simple to-do list to the most advanced computer systems are not well suited to the constant change we face all day long. In the end only our brains can manage our time shifting our priorities and doing what is important when it has to be done.

The solution is both simple and difficult. We must be disciplined about time management. We must devote some time to it every day and as conditions change return to it. For people who are very task oriented and want to get things done this can be frustrating. It is, nonetheless, essential.

To deal with the complexity of life, the distractions and the demands, there are a few things that stand out as most effective in managing our time:

A. Keep It Simple: use one system, on paper or digital, put everything in that system, and use it every day.

B. Avoid jumping to the newest gadget or program: carefully evaluate what you are now using before you consider changing. Sometimes the old standby is the best system to use.

C. Resolve that you will spend the time necessary every day to determine what is most important as well as what is most urgent and manage your time in accordance. Develop the art of saying no to that which is not most important or that which distracts you.

Read the rest of DiSalvo’s article here and let us know what you think. What works best for you? That is the key question. If you have found something that works best for you leave a comment here and let us know.

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.