Why Time Management Gives You More Work

Time management is a must for every successful professional and it helps us to perform even more efficiently… or not?

The gospel of time management has been preached loudly for years by management gurus of all kinds. All kinds of tools and apps help us to keep track of tasks and to do’s, so that we are even more productive, deliver even better results and keep getting better at planning work, assigning priorities, doing more work … But that super-efficient management of our time and tasks has a downside.

It creates a feeling of continuous inadequacy

Many time management guidelines recommend that you immediately capture, evaluate, and handle whatever comes your way if you can do it quickly, or schedule or delegate it if you can’t do it quickly or yourself. The real heroes of time management do this at work, but also in private, for everything that needs to be done or arranged. Getting things done as a motto for life.

If you do that consistently, your to-do list will grow at an alarming rate. And the idea that you have to complete all those tasks can make you panic, Jason Allaire of Cornerstone University Professional and Graduate Studies. ‘Time management can be useful, but it should not rule your life. Now and then something slips through your fingers. You have limits like everyone else. 

So if you overdo it, time management ensures a longer to-do list. And the longer it is, the more you realize at the end of your day what you have not done. Time management can therefore give you the feeling that you are constantly falling short. “The number of ticked off tasks should not be a measure of success,” says Allaire.

It can make for more work

‘A project will always take the amount of time that is allotted for it.’ Parkinson’s Law is perfectly applicable to time management because the more efficiently you handle tasks, the more you can take care of and the more work comes your way.

The better you get at answering emails quickly, the more responses you will get back. The size of your inbox increases exponentially the faster you answer emails, ‘says Allaire.

Is the solution less hard work? Leave emails unanswered? Of course not. But it is important that you learn to say no when people try to use you for things that get you in trouble with your priorities. ‘

Less focus due to time management

Actually, time management should ensure that you have more time for the task you are doing because you can forget about all other tasks and obligations. After all, they have long ended up on your to-do list, or have been delegated. Keep working with focus and then have time to do fun things.

‘But unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way’, says Allaire. That endless to-do list hangs over your head like a sword of Damocles. While you play with your kids, your thoughts are on the next tasks on your growing list. Time management does not provide more, but just less focus. ‘

‘The ironic thing about time management is that it makes you focus on details,’ Allaire warns. ‘You are so busy pouring everything into systems and lists, checking them off, assigning priorities and deadlines, that you miss the big picture .’ You feel like a machine that handles task after task without even thinking about it. ‘Anyone who is constantly working on small sub-tasks, simply because they are on a checklist, will never achieve any significant work.’

Get rid of time management?`

The conclusion is clear: we will stop time management and throw our to-do lists in the trash. ‘Not at all’, says Allaire. ‘Time management and productivity tools can be useful, but they remain tools, not ends in themselves. Use them wisely and make sure you keep control over your priorities. Don’t let them dictate your life. Don’t throw out your checklists, but keep them clearly separate from other important things in your life. And make sure that you focus both professionally and privately on things that really matter. ‘

Felix Tammi

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