Time Is Not Something to Be Managed©

I recently saw this quote from management guru Peter Drucker:

“Until we can manage time, we can manage nothing else.”

Peter Drucker is indeed a business and management thought leader, but I don’t buy it. While time is precious, too much attention has been devoted to managing time rather than embracing the potential to expand time. Rather than working to manage your time, I invite you to commit to time expansion as a surer path to achieving your desired objectives and outcomes. Time management is the realm of tasks and getting things done, while time expansion is the province of achievement and acceleration.

“I wish I could do that … if I only had more time.” Sound familiar? My guess is that you have said this or some version of it in the past week. In our fast paced world, everyone seems to be struggling with not having enough time to do everything that they want to accomplish. However, there are different ways to think about and experience time. While time has a finite element, conscious leaders understand that time is in many ways infinite, and thus it can be created and expanded. Talk about a valuable tool – imagine the leverage and power of being able to create or expand time!

Forget about time management – you have the ability to create time. The truth is that every person can create and expand time, and most people already do it without realizing it. Simply by heightening your awareness of your own time expansion and by seeing time differently, you can dramatically add time to your day, your week and your year. Would that be valuable to you? Conscious leaders understand this and choose to expand time rather than weakly trying to manage it.

Lest you think that I am suggesting that the key to time expansion is embracing quantum physics, I am merely proposing that you take advantage of the time expansion that you are already creating. Think about times when you have a deadline where you are concerned about whether you have enough time to meet it. You are racing toward your deadline and wondering if there will be enough time. Then, out of the blue, another project, deadline or “emergency” gets thrown at you – one with a deadline that requires attention during the same time period as your existing project and deadline. In that moment, which deadline do you choose to ignore or not meet? Which client do you disappoint? If you are like most people your answer is the same: find a way to get them both done.

Recently, I asked a client this question:

Assume that you have 10 hours of work to do today that consists of equal one hour blocks of time. Also assume that you have 10 hours of time available for these 10 hours of work. Now assume that you are given another one-hour project to accomplish in the same 10 hours of work. Can you get it done?

The answer was an unequivocal and rapid “yes.” I then asked what his comfort level would be if I added another one-hour project (now up to 12 supposed hour-long projects), and his answer was a fairly confident “yes.” When I asked about adding a third additional hour-long project (now up to 13 supposed hour-long projects), he said that he probably could not get it done.

            Interesting, isn’t it? This person works hard and diligently, yet he knows that there is always a way to squeeze more output from the same period of time. What about you? Would you be able to accomplish the same expansion of time?

How would you do it? Perhaps you would be more efficient with your time because you were forced to be hyper-focused. Perhaps you would make better choices about the time suckers that often grab some of your time or attention. Perhaps you would do a better job of creating a working environment where you have few, if any, distractions (we all know that we are most effective and efficient when we can work in a focused way). Perhaps you might delegate more or sooner than you otherwise would have. Perhaps you would do a little less research than you would otherwise, but it would be enough. All of these ideas, as well as other strategies and tactics, create time and thus expand time. We all do this, but conscious leaders actuate it and invoke it.

One truth about time is that we adjust what we are doing to fit the time we have. Why do you think people say, “If you want something done, give it to a busy person”? We misunderstand this phrase’s meaning. We think it means that the busy person will be more diligent and willing to get more done in a shorter period of time. Wrong – the busy person will be forced to do more and thus automatically become more effective and productive because they are busy. Give most people a job to do and tell them it will take four hours, and it will take them four hours or more to complete. Give them the same project and tell them it will take 2 hours to complete, and most people will complete it in two hours. Yes, there are times when we set ridiculous and physically impossible time frames, but more often our time frames allow more time than necessary.

Think about this scenario as further proof of how we bend our tasks to meet the available time, not the other way around. Perhaps you or someone you know has had the experience of working full time while going to school (often at night). Everyone I have ever known who did this talked about how insane and tight their time schedule was because they were working a full-time job and going to school. They all talked about how great it would be when they finished school because they would get back all of that time (that they were investing in school at the moment). But what do you think happened once they finished school (or whatever their “other” time investment was)? Did they suddenly have lots of free time to invest in something else, some hobby or interest? No; they found that they were still very busy and they wondered where all of that extra time disappeared to. This is another example of the expandable nature of time.

Time is the not the problem or the obstacle. Thus, time management is not the solution. Rather, the solution lies in changing your relationship with and understanding of time. Time is not what needs to be managed. Instead, you need to manage your perceptions about time. You also need to understand that your choices regarding time are less about management and mostly about expansion– of time. Unless and until we harness the potential for time travel, time expansion thinking is the best tool you have for achieving your objectives. This is your opportunity to join those conscious leaders who excel above and beyond the rest.

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