Man looking pensively out to sunset - time management.

Broadening Your View of Time Management

October 20, 2022

The Enlightened Workplace Project.

Time is a unique resource because unlike other resources, it isn’t replaceable. Money is replaceable, jobs are replaceable, human capital is replaceable. However, as management guru Peter Drucker says, “Nobody can rent, hire or buy more time.” Time is perishable and cannot be stored. Once time is gone, it is gone forever.[1]

An enlightened view of time and time management starts with a harmonious view of both. Time is not something to be conquered; it is a concept to understand. Understanding and respecting your relationship with time, while also honoring other people’s time, is part of enlightened time management.

Your Calendar

The place where time management is most obviously evidenced, at work and in the rest of our lives, is in our calendars. Taking a hard look at what goes on your calendar and how your time is prioritized is an important first step. Your calendar must be prioritized with the things that matter the most and will have the greatest impact. Stephen Covey famously called them the “big rocks.” By placing the big rocks on the calendar first – your highest-priority goals, both professional and personal – you ensure that time will be spent on them. From there, you can decide if you want to fill up your calendar with smaller rocks and gravel (medium to low priorities) or if you want to leave more open space.

Regularly reviewing how you are spending your time, and with whom, will enable you to make better decisions on what to do, what not to do and what can be delegated to someone else. Knowing your ideal productivity hours is helpful too in determining when in the day to schedule your big rocks. If you are most alert and creative from 10 a.m. to noon, schedule your highest-priority activities then. If your brain turns to mush at 3:30 p.m., don’t schedule a high-stakes meeting. Robots might have the same productivity at all hours, but humans don’t. Strategically use your hours of high energy and low energy to your advantage by aligning your priorities to them.

Buffer Time and Thinking Time

Then, there’s buffer time. Scheduling buffer time is a critical component to longevity and to avoiding burnout. Again, people’s needs here differ, but few people can sustain a schedule with constant back-to-back meetings. And if you travel, build in some extra time to prepare for departure, as well as time to return and settle in before jumping to the next commitment. Buffer time allows for breaks, transitions, meals, exercise and, importantly, thinking time.

Leaders especially need to prioritize thinking time into their calendars. Creativity and inspiration typically require space to come forth and a clear mind that is ready to receive them. Bill Gates is famous for taking one to two weeks per year where he escapes to somewhere remote and just thinks. He calls them “Think Weeks.”[2]

[1] Vieker, “Peter Drucker on Time: Our Most Important Resource,” (Jonathan Vieker, 2018)

[2] Clifford, “Bill Gates Took Solo ‘Think Weeks’ in a Cabin in the Woods,” (CNBC, 2019).

Shoulds vs. Musts

Another enlightened way to look at time management and calendars is from the perspective of “shoulds” versus “musts.” Popularized by Elle Luna in her book The Crossroads of Should and Must, “shoulds” are the activities that others, society and culture believe you should do, and they tend to be energy-draining. “Musts” are the activities that you know at your core are the most essential to living the professional and personal life you want. Musts tend to be energy-giving. Not everyone has the luxury to take every “should” off their calendar. However, the practice of reviewing your commitments to limit the “shoulds” and prioritize the “musts” is likely to help you reach your important goals more quickly and feel more satisfied in general with how your time is spent.

Einstein Time

In his discussion on “Einstein Time” in his book The Big Leap, Gay Hendricks reminds us that we’ll “never have enough money to buy all the stuff we don’t really need, and we’ll never have enough time to do all the things we don’t really want to do.”

Taking charge of the time in our life means taking full ownership and responsibility of our time and how we spend it. If we take the view that time is “out there” instead of part of us, we become a victim to it and feel controlled by it. Stress and friction come from the things we don’t accept and take ownership of. Although most people think of time as a constant, Einstein showed that time is an illusion. It is relative, as opposed to a Newtonian view of time, which is linear and based on the idea of scarcity. By believing that time is relative, we realize that we are the source of our time, that we own our time. By complaining about a lack of time, we become a victim to it. In Einstein time, we always have the time we need to do the things we want to do.

Here Are a Few Practical Ideas for Managing Time:

  • Scrutinize the meetings you attend. If you’re not adding value or getting value, step out. As a manager, give your team the permission to do the same.
  • Put buffer time on your calendar. Schedule time for lunch. Make sure you have time between meetings. Consider ending meetings five or 10 minutes early so that people have transition time.
  • Schedule time on your calendar every week to think. Start your thinking time with a question related to a particular problem or an open-ended question.
  • Schedule your “being” time. Go for a walk. Catch up with a friend. Do another activity that doesn’t have to do with work.
The Enlighted Workplace Project.

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Kristin Brownstone ROI Internal Communication Agency Employee.
Kristin Brownstone

Vice President, Strategist

Kristin has nearly 30 years of experience helping billion-dollar companies make a positive impact on the world. A certified executive coach, author, public speaker and Sparketype Advisor, her expertise has been sought out by leaders at Adobe, Apple, CEMEX, Amazon and numerous other businesses.