Rethinking “time management”

Time management: Another myth.

There is not a separate theoretical framework that deals exclusively with what we call “time management”. Research seeks to understand this process through existing theoretical frames of reference of psychology, based mainly on empirical studies. In fact, we can not intervene with time as a dimension. Our social time as we experience it during the day, the week, the month and the year, is given. Alike, our biological time aw we experience it through the development and wearing of our body, cannot me controlled. What we can control indeed is our relationship with time which is a mirror of our relationship with our self.  During our struggle to “control” time, issues regarding our relationship with significant others, our goals, expectations and our purpose, are emerged. It is wrong to approach time as an impersonal technique that one can be trained. We cannot understand time without including the emotions, ethics, motivations and hesitations of every human being. On such base, “time management” is a “self-management” or better, a “self-regulation”  process.

Time management has not a clear correlation with better performance

A meta-analysis of 32 empirical studies carried out from 1982 to 2004 (Claessenes et al, 2007) showed that an improvement on time management is correlated with improved sense of control, work satisfaction and health, while, on the contrary, inefficient time management is associated with increased stress. Interestingly, however, the relationship between time management and performance (professional or academic performance) is not clear. It seems that just a better time management cannot lead directly to a performance enhancement. Those who achieve outstanding performance have their very personal relationship with the idea of time and they do not seem to be actively engaged in techniques or patterns of its management.

However, we should not overlook or underestimate the correlation of time management with work satisfaction and, of course, our health. A better management of “our time” that is a better management of our selves, can reduce stress and help us with problems such as body tension, discomfort, chronic fatigue, cardiovascular disease, burnout and a weakening of our immune system (Barlow & Durand, 2012).

Just one tip for setting priorities

Let us think of a man who works all day to take care his family. What’s the priority here? The work or the family? And if with so many hours of work away from the family bond is threatened?  Who defines what are the real needs of the family? Now, let’s think that this man who does not consider self-care as a priority, is led to burn-out. But if he puts his self first who will be his real priority, himself of his family? If this man is really successful, he loves his career, let’s think that he is a well-known CEO or a doctor, what will happen if he gives up his career for the sake of his family? If he reduces his working hours, his success will be threatened and he will lose a significant part of his identity. Will he then, be able to express his love to his family? But one could ask, if he cannot share time with family why did he really get married? Why he did not set priorities?

Techniques and tools for time management, are related to the everyday work flow, while the essence of our priorities concerns personal choices at a higher level.

So, what is the tip? A decision making balance associated with our goals, values and principles. I encourage everyone to answer the following questions:

  • What will I win with the one and the other choice?
  • What will I win if I change nothing?
  • What I will lose with the one and the other choice?
  • what will I lose if I change nothing?

Set your priorities by accepting what you are ready to lose in order to achieve what really matters for you. 


Claessens,Brigitte& Eerde, Wendelien& G. Rutte, Christel& Roe, Robert. (2007). A Review of Time Management Literature.Personnel Review. 36.

Barlow, D., Durand, M. (2012). Abnormal Psychology: An Integrated Approach. Wadsworth: 6thedition