Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Time Management - Some Philosophical and Practical Considerations

In the postmodern and connected life we "manage" our time. While world religions can't agree whether time is linear, circular or stops altogether at one point, it seems to be a rather pretentious endeavor to establish rules for time management. Also for the faithless time remains an enigma and sometimes difficult to bear. The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche once said that intelligence is the capability to be alone, and we might as well say - the capability to be alone when time passes by.

We can foster our philosophical understanding of time by using it efficiently in our daily lives dedicated to making money and thus gaining freedom from financial pressures. The single most reason for not realizing our longings in life lies in financial restrictions, hence money is an enabler for independence. When we assume independence from the usual walks of the life of the white collar worker's 9-6-day in the office, we experience enhanced ease of time. We will grow more silent in our minds, and in silence there are truth and power for an eventually happier life.

Let's have a look at daily practices for time management and more financial success:

If you organize your working time with reference to the Eisenhower method, you learn to distinguish the important from the urgent and to act accordingly. Ask yourself about every issue how it fits into the below mental diagram:

Important and urgent - get done with it right away.

Important but not urgent - make an entry into your calendar.

Not important but urgent - try to delegate as much as possible and reduce involvement.

Not important and not urgent - trash it.

The Eisenhower method makes sense if we work receiving from and reacting to the environment, i.e. if we are working dependently. This method helps to prioritize work tasks. In order to become financially free we have to go one step further and look at how we should plan and spend effectively.

Let's have a look at the "time quadrant". So, once more we have the dimensions urgent and important, but this time we do not look at how they help us prioritize work tasks, but at how to spend our time in first place so we can plan our lives.

Steven Covey also describes this time management matrix in the "the 7 habits of highly effective people" in habit 3 "Put First Things First".

Urgent and important - fighting daily fires. This is where most people spend much of their time, doing so is a guarantee to remain in the rat race. Try to minimize your time in this quadrant and if possible, delegate.

Not urgent and important - strategic thinking, big picture mode. This is where you see the forest and not only the tree. This is where you want to spend quality time, maximize!

Urgent and not important - urgent to someone else, not important to you. This is the daily situation of unhappily employed people. Minimize!

Not urgent and not important - this is where you waste your time. Like e.g. gossiping on the phone, watching television, surfing the Internet without purpose. Try to minimize!

Even if we plan our time and spend most of our time in strategic thinking mode, we are sometimes overwhelmed by our daily lives. To gain clarity again and physical strength we should retreat once in a while. Eventually peace of mind and happiness will come along with developing your own inherent time making you a fully intrinsically motivated person.

Augustine of Hippo once said "There is only one word written on the eternal watch - now!" - this tells us not to procrastinate. This is also where intuitions come into play to make wise decision, as in the complex world we live in we do not - and in fact should not - always have the time to gather all the information we feel is required to take an informed decision. If we learn to use our intuitions we learn to be close to ourselves.

Finally, we actively need to give our friends, families, leisure and pleasure the same priority as we give to our work.

Applying the simple methods describe above will not only help us become more effective professionals, but also bring us closer to time. Development, it was once said, is the increase of consciousness.


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