How do the experts define time management? There is no end to time management experts, consultants, authors, bloggers, and complete time management businesses.
But what is time management? If we go to Wikipedia, we can come up with a simple enough definition for our general purposes, based on a 2013 book by Stella Cottrell:
“Time management is the process of planning and exercising conscious control of time spent on specific activities, especially to increase effectiveness, efficiency, and productivity. It involves a juggling act of various demands upon a person relating to work, social life, family, hobbies, personal interests, and commitments…”
I purposely italicized the words “conscious control” that appears in the definition because it is so important and usually overlooked in life management. Conscious control is about intention. Are we living our lives with purpose or just living?
How many of us go through our days of life management with intention? I was once guilty of lacking intent. Maybe you are that way at times yourself. We must juggle those activities, including work, social life, family, interests, and commitments. How do we prioritize them, and how do we meet them? And why would I use a word like meet? “Meeting them” sounds silly. Aren’t they just a part of our daily routine? Yes – and sadly, no.
In terms of “yes,” of course, we realize that whether we want to do so – or not, we must work at a profession; we need a social life; we must (hopefully) fulfill family obligations and meet commitments.
Those things in our daily “being” feel natural to our way of thinking. They are always there. We juggle them with such great ease. They become automatic; we don’t even think about conscious control.
However, the “no” part may be such an inconvenient truth, many of us would rather not deal with it. So, if “Time Management is Life Management,” it’s possible that while we may think we’re managing our time, we’ve fallen on controlling our lives.
How does this happen?
We may be working at jobs that give us no satisfaction and no sense of purpose; we may have surrounded ourselves with people who take from us rather than give; we might be over-committed to far too many people, by making far too many promises; we might find ourselves with 450 “dear friends on social media,” but not one who can comfort us – with real hugs – in times of sadness; we may know acquaintances who have a thousand jokes at their fingertips but who have no time to share their joy with us.
Does any of this sound familiar? It once did to me, and maybe it does to you. We may be adept at juggling with a master circus clown’s skill, and we may tell everyone our time management skills are second to none. Yet, in the quiet of our moments, we realize our lives are lacking in “life.”
Life Management Outcomes
Lately, I’ve come across so many people who lament the fact that they don’t “laugh anymore,” or that they wish they had just one dear friend or that they dreamed of having the time to pick up on an abandoned hobby or, most sadly that they go through life “feeling nothing.”
On the outside, they appear to be great jugglers and excellent time management folks, but they have lost the conscious control of their lives and the very things that make life worth living on the inside.
If you find yourself no longer laughing or feeling or even friendless, please, start to turn your time management into life management. No matter where you are, I promise you that your life is not over, that there are many good things ahead for you, and there are friends ahead who have also been looking for good friends.
What will it take to feel again? It is the realization of life management, not just time management. You don’t have to be perfect; you don’t have to be a hero or people juggler or super-star or a multi-tasking machine who lives only for others. Just be authentic and have intention in living the life you’ve been blessed to have.
Be yourself. It’s OK to be weak or sad or imperfect. If you start by being kind to yourself and asking for help if needed, life will be there. We all use the hours of a day differently. But the way you spend your time determines the quality of your life. Time management is life management.