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Time Management: Introduction

Time - the worst waste of all

Everybody wastes things; there's no point in arguing that. Even the most careful, the most frugal person will wind up wasting something at some time. With most people, it's not unusual to waste food, gas in the car, and money on all sorts of things.

What would you say is the biggest waste of all? No doubt many things you purchase and never use or don't enjoy the way you thought you would may come to mind. You might waste money on a new cell phone that you no longer find exciting after the first week or on cable channels you never watch. You may waste gas in your car running too many errands when you could have and should have combined them into one. Perhaps you wasted food by not using it before it went bad or by cooking too much and throwing away the leftovers.Time management: Learn how to manage your life

But with all the things that get wasted in one's life, probably time is the biggest waste of all. Many people waste time on useless activities that don't really serve their needs or on responsibilities that are not done right the first time. Time can be wasted from sleeping too much, from doing harmful things like over drinking or using narcotics, and from just plain sitting on the couch watching television.

Often time is wasted, not just because people indulge in activities that could be considered a waste of time, but because of poor time management skills. You might compare this to how people waste money on food because they don't use it before it rots or because they cook too much; if a person had better skills when it came to preparing that food and had the discipline needed to use up the food in the house before shopping for more, they may not see so much go down the garbage disposal. It's not their eating that's the problem in of itself and of course it's not the fault of the food that it rots; it's how the food is prepared and used that creates a waste.

So it is with time management skills. A person may work and work and work and wonder why they're not getting anything done. They may also honestly feel that they don't indulge in time wasting activities such as watching television or going out with friends to the bar every night. And yet, why are they not accomplishing anything or reaching the goals they once had for themselves?

Usually the problem is learning how to manage one's time and to maximize it for the most effectiveness. Just like learning to cook and manage one's shopping can mean better use of the food in the home with less waste, so learning how to be in control of one's time and one's schedule can mean less time wasted.

Your allotment of time

Have you ever found yourself wishing there were more hours in the day in which you could work? Probably so; most people wish this at one time or another. Between careers, household chores, taking care of children, and wanting a little bit of peace and quiet for yourself, no doubt you've found bedtime arriving too soon on more than one occasion.
But has it ever occurred to you that people all around the earth are equal in the fact that they all get the same amount of time every single day? This may be the one constant that everyone shares! You have 24 hours just like your boss, your neighbor, the President, your favorite celebrity, and oh yes, that person that you admire because they always seem to be getting things done effectively.

Realizing that your time is limited and that you have the same amount of time as everyone else should help you to better understand the importance of effective time management. Why is this? Let's again compare time to money. People that are struggling financially often assume that if they just made a few dollars more than they do today, then they wouldn't be struggling and would have all their bills paid, and would enjoy their life.

Of course there are those that struggle because they truly live in poverty and this is not what we're considering here. The point is that while it's tempting to think that the answer to money problems is to have more money, this isn't always the case. Think of those that have literally millions of dollars to their name and still wind up declaring bankruptcy or facing other serious financial problems. No doubt some celebrity names come to mind. And if these people who are making millions and millions of dollars every year still face money problems, what is the issue?

Obviously the answer is that it's the way they manage their money. Having more money won't help if you spend it on useless items that lose value and if you don't save for the future as well. Those celebrities and others that have plenty of money coming in but who face bankruptcy and foreclosure and these issues have not managed the money they have.
So it is with time. If you had 50 hours in the day or even 100, who is to say that you would accomplish more in that time? If you haven't learned to manage the 24 you're allotted, getting more time probably won't make much difference in maximizing your schedule and achieving your goals.

Once it's gone…

One big consideration when it comes to wasting time is that once it's gone, it's gone. When you waste money you can earn more, when you waste food you can buy more, and so on. But with time, there is no cycle of it that buys back the time that's lost.
Yes, you will have another 24 hours tomorrow but everyone's life is finite; the 24 hours you've wasted today is being subtracted from the total number of hours you'll have in your life overall. You cannot get those hours back the way you can replenish your bank account when you purchase something useless.
This too is why time is so precious and so valuable. And this is why wasting it is probably one of the worst things a person can do! There is no turning back the clock and there is no way to regain that time that is gone.

Time as an investment

Another reason to consider how time is just too precious to waste is that it can also be seen as an investment in one's future. The way you spend your time today does have an effect on your circumstances tomorrow.
When you set goals and use your time toward achieving them, you can soon find yourself living with the end result of those goals being accomplished.
But if you waste time and let it fritter away, then you have nothing to show for it when tomorrow arrives. There are many ways this can be true; consider a few here:

  • When you spend time with your children and family now, you are strengthening family bonds that can last a lifetime. Your relationships will be stronger and everyone will feel closer.
  • Investing time in furthering your education can mean more earning power. This may mean a more comfortable lifestyle, a more secure retirement, and the ability to provide for oneself and one's family.
  • Spending time today caring for your health may mean less health concerns in the future. This may mean exercising more, taking the time to prepare healthy foods, and things such as these.
  • There are also many personal goals you no doubt have that mean investing time in order to achieve; if you don't invest that time, you won't have the future you imagine. 

For instance, suppose you want to adopt a child. This means researching the process, selecting an attorney, preparing your home, and doing whatever else is necessary to be eligible for adoption and to make it happen. If you don't use your time today to work toward that goal, of course it will never just happen!
Considering how time is an investment in your future should also encourage you to learn how to manage it wisely. If you let it slip away, this investment will never pay off. But if you use it to reach your goals for tomorrow, then you're using your investment wisely.

Of course, this is all well and good, but knowing how precious time is doesn't typically force anyone to use it wisely. Just about anyone and everyone wastes time often in their lives. Why is this? And how can you change this?
Let's first look at why time is often wasted and then we can move on to addressing how to fix these things.

Why is time being wasted?

If time is so precious and valuable and so limited, why is it always so wasted today? Why do people fritter it away, refuse to recognize its value, and fail to learn how to manage it wisely?
The answer will be different for everyone. The habits you have that waste time will be different from the practices someone else has. The reasons you struggle to manage your time will be different from the reasons why your spouse is so disorganized, always late, and never seems to accomplish things either.
Typically however there are some common reasons for time being wasted today, and for poor time management skills. Let's take a closer look at these common reasons and then we can discuss each of them in greater detail.

The Pareto Principle

The Pareto Principle is a philosophy regarding cause and effect; it is also sometimes called the eighty twenty rule. It simply states that very often, eighty per cent of the effect comes from twenty per cent of the causes.
As an example of how this principle may work in different circumstances, suppose a person is overweight. Chances are the majority of their problem stems from a few small bad habits they have. In other words, some 80% of their excess body weight is probably there because of 20% of their food choices. Those extra desserts they have or fried foods may make up only 20% of their daily diet, but they can probably account for the majority of their excess weight.

As another example, suppose family or individual faces financial problems even though they make enough money to support themselves. It may very well be that only a few bad habits when it comes to spending are responsible for the majority of their financial concerns. So, 20% of the things they do with their money are causing some 80% of the problems they have with it.

It even applies to business. If you have a business and you look very carefully at the tasks and which produce the most money, you will likely find that 20% of the tasks you complete will produce the majority of your earnings. It is just a matter of working out which 20% is the most profitable, and focusing on those. Look at how much more profitable you could be if you were putting your effort into the right areas.

Now let's consider how this principle may apply to time management. No doubt there are many things you must do throughout the day over which you have very little say, and there are many time wasters that are just part of today's world. Standing in line, waiting at red lights, sitting through yet another meeting that your boss conducts just to hear himself talk; these are time wasters but they're a part of today's life. To get where we want to go, to buy the food and other things we need, to have a job and earn money, we must simply suffer through these things.
However, when it comes to choices you make about your own time, no doubt it's just a small handful of bad habits or a slight bit of mismanagement that accounts for the majority of the wasted time in your life.

Consider how this might be true. Just two hours of television every night adds up to 14 hours every week that's wasted. That's almost the same amount of hours you spend during two days at work! One afternoon of running all over town to take care of errands that you haven't organized into a quick trip can mean just about your entire day wasted, as you may then be too tired to do anything else at the end of the day.
Very often small habits and small time wasters can add up to hours, days, weeks, and then years being wasted away. The key is to identify those habits and then take steps to address them properly!


One common element when it comes to wasting time is procrastination. We put off and put off those unpleasant tasks or the work that's needed to accomplish our goals for as long as possible. In some cases this might mean that eventually a situation takes care of itself but rarely is that the case. More often than not we create more problems for ourselves when we put off work or whatever else is necessary in our circumstances. One reason that procrastination is such a time waster is that the time is sitting right there in front of us, but we do nothing with it. Rather than use it to accomplish our goals we just let it slip away. As said, once it's gone, it's gone for good. Additionally, procrastinating doesn't always make the problem go away. We still need to balance the checkbook and get ourselves on track financially, get that education, find a new job, clean out the attic, and so on. Just because we refuse to do these things, that doesn't mean they don't need to get done! Procrastinating does nothing more than delay the inevitable.


You would think that interruptions would do little to cause you to waste time. After all, when the interruption is over you can simply go back to what you were doing, right?
In reality, interruptions can interfere with time management in a few ways. One is that we lose our train of thought. When we're interrupted and then return to our work, we often need to review where we were and what we were thinking at the time. We need to remind ourselves of the direction in which we were headed. Sometimes we even forget what we were trying to accomplish altogether!
Interruptions can also mean losing interest in the task at hand and this can mean putting it off. What we thought we would accomplish today gets put on the back burner because something else has come up, and soon we just don't care to continue at all.

Lack of goals

Sometimes a person does not spend their time effectively because they're not sure what they should be doing with that time. Without clear goals in mind, it's easy to simply waste away the hours of one's life doing little to accomplish anything - because you don't even know what you want to accomplish.
Goals can be personal or professional, and big or small. Having them in mind means knowing where you want to be in the future, and can also help you to see the things you need to do to get there. For example, if one goal is to save so much money for retirement, you know that you need to keep your finances in order now and need to see how much you're saving every month. If a smaller goal is to clean out your attic, you may know that this means buying some garbage bags and storage bins and setting aside time every week to tackle that project.
When you lack goals it's easy to lack focus. Without focus you have no idea how you should be spending your time, which in turn means you accomplish nothing.

No Prioritizing

Lack of prioritizing skills is something like lacking goals in that you don't know what should occupy the time you have for maximum effectiveness. You have many different demands on your time and failure to realize which should come first and which should come last, and which should be dropped from your schedule altogether, can mean wasting that precious time.
Not prioritizing with your schedule can be compared to not prioritizing with your finances. If you buy new clothes without paying your rent, you have your priorities confused. If you go out drinking with your friends or go gambling rather than sending in a car payment, of course your priorities are off!
Learning how to set priorities may mean learning how to say no to certain projects or demands. This can be difficult especially for those that are not used to turning down requests and demands on their time, but like other time management skills, it can be done.


Do you delegate your work, whether that's work in the office or work at home? If you have a difficult time with this, you're certainly not alone. Many struggle with assigning work or sharing responsibilities, and for various reasons. It might be that they feel they're the only ones that can handle the work, they nit-pick and criticize the work of others, they think others will look down on them if they share their responsibilities, or they just don't know how to ask for help.
Whatever the reason, taking on too much usually means that something if not everything will suffer. It also means that the things that are important to you may not be cared for since there is little room in your schedule for them.
All of these different time wasters and time bandits are very common for many. No doubt you've noticed yourself in some of these scenarios. And if so, what then? How can you address these situations so that you can maximize your time and really call it your own?
In this website we will be looking at different time management issues and teaching how you can address them and reclaim your time.

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