Keeping Track Of The World

Research Methods for Regular People

Time Management

Given how long it has been since I have posted anything I thought I should talk about time management strategies.

Very few of us are sitting around looking out the window. Nor are we spending most of our time in casual conversation and reading good books. Most of us are busy. Timothy Ferriss’ oft quoted “Being busy is a form of laziness . . .” is an overstatement but it does have a seed of truth. Busy is not necessarily a bad thing but many of us find constant busyness stressful and wonder if we are accomplishing what is really important.

I was thinking about this recently as I observed my in-laws prepare for their daughter’s wedding. We arrived at their country property the day before the wedding. There was much to done and nobody appeared to be in charge. However, nobody appeared to be anxious about it. My brother-in-law was methodically fixing the oven that would be used to cook some of the food for the next day. My sister-in-law was making much of the food. And the chairs for the wedding sat quietly in a truck. People came and went over the day and everything got done. The day of the wedding was much the same. Ten minutes before the ceremony neither the mother nor the father of the bride were dressed for the ceremony. At the reception there was nobody organized to set out the food, direct people where to go or clean up afterwards. Everything got done and nobody appeared to be worried about what had been left unplanned.

What was going on here? I don’t want to advocate a lack of advance planning or preparation and there were some missing pieces to the planning (e.g., no drinks). However, on the whole I think my in-laws had their priorities right. They spent time with family, with friends and with each other. They concentrated on ongoing relationships between people not the accomplishment of short-term tasks. They came out the other end of the wedding neither stressed nor in debt. I don’t want to push this analogy any further but I think an emphasis on identifying and concentrating on core priorities is the key factor in time management.

Some elements of a core priority approach to time management include knowing what those priorities are, scheduling them, developing a trusted system to track everything you need to do, finding efficient ways to accomplish the necessary small goals of life (e.g., email), and making sure that you do things you enjoy.

Me? I prioritize contact with students and one-on-one relationships over mass online communication. Thus, this blog has been a bit ignored. I hope to do better in the future.

Links to resources I have found helpful in this journey:

Be More Productive
David Allan’s Getting Things Done
Keeping Focus
Time Management Reminders that Boost Efficiency, Peace of Mind

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