time travel

Unless you’re Marty McFly and have keys to the Delorean, stop focusing on time management.

Time management is a waste of time because it’s impossible. Hear me out. Time is going to pass regardless of what you or I do. Management implies the ability to control. Since we cannot control time, we cannot manage it. Stop trying.

What we can do though is focus on what we can control—our priorities. Priority management is the new and improved time management. Here are four steps to mange your priorities successfully within the time constraints we’re all stuck with.


Choose wisely. You only have so many ticks on the clock. Make sure you give your time to what is important rather than urgent. Important items are aligned with your short- and long-term goals whereas, urgent matters are typically distractions that usurp your time and derail you from forward progress. If you want to reach your goals, don’t be a victim of urgency.


Narrow your focus. Bill Gates said, “Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in 10 years.” We get so excited about our current long to-do lists and big ideas that we forget to chart, deconstruct and focus on attainable priorities that could lead us to something bigger in the long-term.

The key is to balance your to-do list with manageable priorities. This way you nurture your short-term tasks and long-term priorities. Taper your focus to only a few priorities at a time—I suggest three per quarter. It’s easier said than done, but I guarantee the additional focus will propel you to achieving long-term substantial goals.


Schedule. Once you have your priorities set, it’s time to block off focused periods of time for each of them. I recommend 90-minute timeframes. (If you’re not willing to dedicate 90 minutes, then your priority may not actually be a priority.) Block these chucks of time and protect them with your life.

Don’t allow yourself to go over or under that block time because, if that time block is flexible, you may allow yourself to be inefficient with that time. You must set parameters for yourself.


Measure. Create a way to measure your progress along the path to priority completion. What gets measured gets done.

If your name is Doc Brown and figuring out time travel is your goal—then by all means, break the process down into manageable priorities and spend 90 minutes a day on each of them and be the first to break the time continuum.  However, if your name is not Doc Brown, and you’re not aiming to break the time continuum, focus on priorities you can manage.


Originally published in The Tennessean

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/alancleaver/2661425133/