An exact-phrase search for “time management” yields nearly 7 million results on Google and more than 9 million hits on AltaVista search engines. A search for “time management” in Amazon books returns more than 65,000 results. There are thousands of time management workshops and seminars. Clearly, time and the management of time is an important issue, and the supply of time management products—books, articles, CDs, workshops, etc.—reflects the huge demand for these products.
The proliferation of time management aids points out how commonplace time pressures have become, and how people are struggling desperately to cope with and find time for the demands placed on them. Why do so many people have so much trouble managing their time? We are to blame, in part, for creating our modern lifestyle.
We believe that a full life is a busy life, with work, family, hobbies, civic duties—all of which place real and conflicting demands on our time. Many of us believe that the answer to this problem lies in compressing more activities into each day—having more things to do than there is time in which to do them is a problem that can be solved by becoming more efficient. If you have ten things on a typical day’s to-do list and normally finish only five of them, then figuring out how to do six is a productivity increase of 20 percent. That’s great if you’re comfortable not doing four things. But that’s not time management.
time on one activity means spending less on another. So, spending more time at work is great if you don’t have a family, any relationships, hobbies, personal interests, or need sleep. But that’s not time management either. At least it’s not healthy time management.
Time management is activity management and involves defining what tasks need to be done and finding a realistic way in which to do them. Having more tasks to do than time in which to do them ensures failure. And having so much to do that you spend your entire waking life ticking off items from your to-do list will lead to frustration and burnout
Within this book I’ll discuss how to approach and complete tasks—those that are work-related, and those that involve family, friends, and community. These two worlds, if it needs to be said, are in different universes.
The goal of the book is to help you deal with continuing time demands with common sense and efficiency so that what is most important receives its due. Finally, you can read this book from start to finish, but that’s not essential to understand its concepts. Instead, use the Contents to find a chapter about a topic of concern. Choose the subjects that are appropriate to your situation and help you the most. Good luck.
We listen in astonishment to the most severe examples on news broadcasts: stories involving someone who becomes so outraged over a seemingly trivial event that he assaults and injures or even kills another person. Road rage is one of the most common manifestations of this disorder, but there are many others and can involve almost any human activity.
All that’s required are two or more people, a spark, and a participant who takes the whole thing way too seriously. And it appears that these ingredients are available and come into contact with each other with surprising frequency. These are extreme manifestations of what is typically referred to as “hurry sickness,” a state of anxiety caused by the feeling of not having enough time in the day to accomplish everything that is required.
Some people are so intent upon achieving their goals, that any disruption, even the ordinary, everyday kind, can send them into a homicidal, unthinking rage. We wonder how these people can lose control so quickly and completely and are comforted knowing that we are more rational, more balanced, and better adjusted.
We are unaffected by minor interruptions and are in complete control of our emotions and actions. Are we, really? While most of us, thankfully, are not prepared to commit mayhem when things don’t go our way, many of us have a serious problem dealing with events that knock us off course, interfering with our goals. We are a nation of overachievers, with lives stuck on fast forward. With little time to plan, many of us have become adept at crisis management, rushing to put out one fire after another. We’re all dependent on overnight delivery and communicating via e-mail, fax, and telephone.