Just Seven Things

Exploring why and how we do what we do, and how we can do it better

The Stress of Time Management

Day 1 (please adopt North Eastern voice of Big Brother commentator in homage to BB9 – I confess to a trash TV fetish when at my mind-numbed best levels of tiredness…..)

I was struck today, in the first day of the application of my new more structured system, how damn stressful time management is.

There’s an irony and an insight in this for me. The irony is obvious in that something that should be a system or methodology for stress relief has the ability to cause stress.

The insight has a number of levels:

1. I could be doing it all wrong. A number of my posts have referred to the difficulties of time management and the contradictions between flexibility and structure. Maybe the achievement of perfect balance in time management is without stress? I look forward to it

2. I could be doing it right, and all of the books and all of the advice fails to articulate how incredibly hard you have to work at time management and focus to get to the relaxed position of perfect balance

3. I’m a bit stressy? – true, this morning was back to work after a week’s hols. A few hundred emails, some personal stuff to sort and my sales director on hols so some of his calls to pick-up on (as well as my scheduled actions for the day: a couple of presentations and a board paper to prepare), but nothing OTT.

My vote goes for 2. I’ve always liked David Allen’s reference to the perfect control being most akin to a martial art, or performing like water. I love the following quote from his collection of newsletters, Ready for Anything, from Shunryu Suzuki:

‘When you know everything, you are like a dark sky. Sometimes a flashing will come through the dark sky. After it passes, you forget all about it, and there is nothing left but the dark sky. The key is never being surprised when all of a sudden a thunderbolt breaks through. And when the lightning does flash, a wonderful sight may be seen. When we have emptiness, we are always prepared for watching the flashing’

I think the key to the amount focus, determination and consistent, persistent time management activity is in the first four words of the quote: ‘When you know everything’

How hard is that?

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3 thoughts on “The Stress of Time Management

  1. WorkloadMaster on said:

    So how have you been doing? I see it’s been a few months since your last post about time management. David Allen’s system is great…for some people. Your success will totally depend upon sticking to the weekly planning, capturing everything and deciding early. Otherwise all those tasks will turn into “stuff”. With Dave’s system and all others it should work in the background without taking much thought on your part. It doesn’t happen immediately or painlessly. You’re talking about changing some deeply ingrained habits and that takes time and persistence (that’s the pain). There’s no magic bullet. Stick with it and don’t expect to be perfect. It’s a journey not a destination.

  2. Pingback: Time Management Progress in Action « Just Seven Things

  3. Many thanks WorkloadMaster. You prompted me to review my progress here: https://justseventhings.com/2008/09/15/time-management-progress-in-action/

    Thank you for your comment again.

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