There’s no such thing as time management

Friday, August 9, 2013, Vol. 37, No. 32

Yes, I am being a bit nit-picky, but as the title states there is no such thing as time management. Time flows in a forward direction and does not respond to any human attempts to manage it. Therefore, time management strategies are, pardon the pun, a waste of time.

Instead, you might look closely at the ongoing historical tug-of-war between new things coming into existence that place claims on your time and new thing coming into existence that free up huge blocks of your time.

For example, on May 10, 1869, at Promontory Point, Utah, the golden spike was driven to complete the rail line between the East and West coasts. Prior to completing this rail line, it typically took six months to make the trip from New York to San Francisco. Soon after the completion of the transcontinental railroad, an individual could make the same trip in about six days. That’s 174 days of free time for abandoning the Conestoga wagon option.

If you decided to travel from New York to San Francisco nowadays, you would have many options. Among the options is United Airlines flight 626 out of Kennedy airport leaving at 10:20 am and arriving at 1:36 pm. If you adjust for the time zone changes, that’s six hours and seven minutes travel time. So, from six months, to six days, to six hours to get the same result – getting from New York to San Francisco. Therefore, if you need more time, abandon the railroad option.

I can cite many similar examples of how we can now accomplish the same result in significantly less time that it took us in the past – if we are willing to abandon our current way of doing things. So, abandoning our current way of doing things seems to be one of the keys to dealing with the unrelenting passage of time.

For example, here’s an idea for those of you who have the flexibility to relocate. Consider living closer to where you work. Or why not abandon your current reading method and take a speed-reading course? Most people can easily double their reading speed and improve comprehension and retention at the same time. Do the math: if you need to read an hour a day to keep up with your reading now and you learn to get it done in 30 minutes, you free up over three weeks a year to do other things. Learn to type faster, get more organized, set up systems that will help you find things faster when you need them, abandon some of the wasteful meetings that creep into your workday.

As it turns out, you cannot manage time, however, you can learn to do a much better job of rationally using time. That’s what I suggest to my clients. Abandon your efforts to manage time and look for practical ways to more rationally use time. Start by asking, “What can I abandon to free up huge blocks of time?”

Chris Crouch is CEO of DME Training and Consulting and author of several books on improving productivity. Contact him through