“Time is what we want most, but we use worst.”—William Penn (1644-1718)
The English real estate entrepreneur, philosopher and founder of the colony of Pennsylvania was very knowledgeable. Penn’s words are quite the insight to the fact that even more than 300 years ago, with few outside enticements available to draw people away from their normal-day tasks, time management skills were still a far cry from being highly developed.
An excuse for those caught in Penn’s critical eye could be that the ‘New-Style’ calendar (using months and leap years instead of conveying time in relation to the cycles of the sun and moon) wasn’t even employed until 1752, well after his passing. But then or now, it’s not so much the availability of calendars as it is the daily utilization of them. However, there was a day 30, 40, 50 years ago when plan books, day timers, Filofax, Chandler’s, were all the rage and the constant companion of highly efficient people.
Calendaring was taught in schools, albeit sometimes subliminally. On the chalkboard students would see the dreaded lines remaining day after day, prioritized due dates and exams—like a beacon, so in theory there was no excuse not to know about it. For adults, there were even time management planning classes focused around calendars and systems of how to move important tasks daily to the top of the page. To a certain extent, it was ingrained into one’s DNA as a businessperson.
Unfortunately, those concepts might as well be written in Sanskrit now. Why? It’s easy to blame it on technology but delving deeper the burden must be placed on the individual and whether they possess the knowledge manage themselves. The tools are there. While Microsoft Outlook or any number of calendaring applications are far more powerful than at any time in history, the fact remains that the true organization and management of time just hasn’t been taught, person-to-person, for many years now.
And to be honest, it doesn’t even require fancy planning software to execute. Instead of the daily routine of working out of an Outlook inbox or a to-do list, dropping tasks in the empty spots and hoping for the best, we all would be better off taking time to manage our time. The reality is that we could look at a task we have to get done, calculate how long it will take, and simply put the time into the calendar. That time will then be allocated to the specific issue. It’s a beautiful thing.
We should be talking about this, as it’s a crucial business issue from a productivity standpoint. Here’s the key—the only thing we have, our true inventory and currency, our biggest asset individually, is our time. We’re selling our time to our employers, our employers are selling our time either internally or externally to getting jobs done to satisfy other stakeholders, whether it be customers or suppliers. It makes sense to harness that time to the utmost.