Don’t make time

I once worked for an organization that often asked us to “expand our capacity” which was a age-old development euphemism, inviting you to work the weekend.

Not at all surprising, that this was also the job where I learned just how poor my own personal productivity could become when I worked around the clock, and didn’t invest any time in planning my work or managing my energy.  It’s also the time when I ended up in the ER and getting an MRI to try to figure out why half of my face was going numb (migraines).

I have since come to an entirely different conclusion about time management.  I now strongly believe that most time management problems are really symptoms not causes — especially when they are chronic.

Fact: For the vast majority of us, there will always be more work than time.

So in the end, it really isn’t about expanding the hours you work — it is about expanding the quality of the work you do within the hours you should be working.  There are two important things you are getting wrong, if you find yourself struggling with time management.

  1. You are not spending your time on the most important things
  2. You are not managing your energy properly, to make sure you work on the right things at the right time [for you].

If you deeply understand that you will not get all the work done,you recognize that your most important job is to decide what you will not do.  Being realistic and decisive about what you are not doing, is a key to success.  Knowing why you are choosing to not work on something and not spending energy stressing about things you are not going to do.

The best way I have found to deciding what I will not do, is to clearly define what my “can’t fail” objectives are.  Who are my most important stakeholders, and what are my key success measures for my business.  If the work doesn’t fit into that framework it is secondary priority.


The most effective people I know, are those who acknowledge that they can’t do it all and it doesn’t matter.  They instead produce results, because they work on the most important tasks for their business.  They take the time to plan and organize their work for maximum productivity, and they are unapologetic about what things are not doing.

Don’t make time for everything, instead, do your best work.