Quit Managing Time
An alternative to time management

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I don’t have enough time." Do you ever feel that way? These phrases may sound familiar.
-I’m too busy.
-I’ll try to make time.
-Time is money.
-You can make more money, but you can’t make more time.
-Use your time wisely.
-You can’t outrun the clock.
-Time keeps slipping away.
-Time flies.

If you feel like there never seems to be enough time, you are not alone.


This concept is not new. 20 years ago, the Wall Street Journal published survey results showing that 40% of Americans believed lack of time was a bigger problem for them than lack of money.


If you're like me, you probably feel that time is constantly fleeting.


We want more time, but we can’t make more. Time, like matter, is finite. Borrowing from Newton’s First Law of Thermodynamics, time cannot be created or destroyed. It just is.


Everybody has exactly the same number of minutes in a day. Whether you are the President of the United States or the neighborhood plumber, you are allotted the same 24 hours a day as every other living person on the planet.


So if you can’t just create more time, what can you do about it?


The personal development world has come up with a genius solution: Productivity.


Our generation has become obsessed about productivity.


Since you can’t snap your fingers and birth more time into existence, we’ve come up with a clever concept. Be more efficient.


Let’s draw up a working definition. Increased productivity means getting more things done in a given amount of time.


Productivity gurus suggest a number of ideas, including speed reading courses, eliminating distractions, high tech digital planners, to-do lists, apps, and more. My aim is not to disparage any of these tools. When viewed in their proper place, these tools can be very helpful. But allow me to suggest that time management is not the answer to your dilemma.


You can find hundreds of books about time management on Amazon. There are thousands of articles written on the subject of productivity. We've tried to max out our hours, yet we are still frustrated.

Putting Productivity to the Test

Time was never meant to be managed. Neither productivity nor time management fix our problems—at least not for long. No matter how productive you are, you will be frustrated by increasing demands and limited time.

I have read the best books on time management, and I personally implemented their best strategies. I partitioned my day into 30 minute segments. I downloaded the productivity app that is "proven" to help boost your focus. I eliminated the distractions of social media. I woke up at 5am to get the most out of the "golden hours,” the supposed peak productivity moments. I went cold turkey on Facebook and Instagram for a whole year.


I tested and tried the "secrets" and found them to be insufficient. Even after trying these remedies, the feeling of not having enough time boomed louder than ever.


Time management will never make you happy.


Productivity is not the answer. Cramming as many things as you can into your day is not a healthy way to live.


An obsession with productivity and time management leads to insanity. Climbing the productivity ladder results in personal turmoil and deteriorating relationships.

An Alternative

My advice is radically different from the teachings of the time management gurus.




I am not suggesting anti-productivity extremism. I'm not saying you should burn your calendar or shred your to do list. Being mindful of time has many merits.


Efficiency is a very good thing, but productivity needs to be put in its proper place. We need to stop looking to productivity to solve our problems of increasing to-do's and diminishing time.


Our current view of time is twisted. Perhaps time is not an entity to be "managed" at all.


Time management gives us the illusion of control. When we divide, track, and measure our time, we trick ourselves into thinking we are control.


But ultimately, we know we cannot control time any more than we can control the aging of our bodies. The steady ticking of the clock is far beyond our control.


Time cannot be managed or controlled. The more you try to control time, the more it will control you.


Time is like air. It is the medium in which we live.


Wouldn't it be ridiculous if you tried to "manage" the air that you breathe, calculating how many breaths you take every day?


That's because we generally treat air like a medium, not a resource to be "used" or "managed.” What if we began treating time that way, not as a resource to be finely calculated but as a setting in which we abide?


When you stop managing time, you are no longer a slave to the demands of the clock.


Quitting time management means...
-Not viewing time like a resource to be used up.
-Treating time like a medium in which you live.


Here are 3 practical ways that you can view time as a medium rather than a resource to be spent this week.

1. Waste time. Seriously. Go do something totally unproductive. Like going for a walk. This simple act goes a long way.
2. Look at the watch less. Stop hyper-analyzing your time expenditure.
3. Allow yourself to do one thing that you usually "don't have time” for. Maybe that means having an extended conversation with a friend or playing with your kids.

Give yourself permission to take a break from the tyranny of productivity.