Instead of time management, consider self-management instead.

The Time Trap: A Lesson in Self-Management

Looming deadlines. 

Red lights. 

And long waits. 

They’re never ending. And they’re always waiting…with more in the queue. 

We find ourselves racing against the clock, rushing from one task to the next. So, we search for the most efficient ways to manage our time. 

Why shouldn’t we? 

To embrace change and make strides towards our ideal futures, we must first make time and create the space to do so. 

In the famous words of Elmo McElroy, “Shit don’t just happen, shit takes time. Shit takes effort.

Time management is more like self-management.
Photo by Şahin Sezer Dinçer

The catch 22 of time management 

The closer you look at time, the more you realize how little control you have over it. Some days, time travels faster than you’d like – others, it moves far too slowly. 

The reality is that we have the same amount available to us with each spin of the globe 🌎 – 24-hours-a-day, 60-minutes-an-hour and 60-seconds-a-minute, to be exact. 

No more. No less. 

🤔 Did you know our time system originates from the ancient Egyptians and ancient Babylonians?  

Of course, time management isn’t about controlling your time – it’s about making the most of it. It’s a conscious effort to maximize productivity and minimize deficiency. 

Claire Emerson, author of Flourish: a newsletter for quiet achievers, prefers to look at time management as the practice of self-management. Her argument being that with our lack of supremacy over time, it’s wiser to focus on controlling one’s self instead.  

That means: 

  • Identifying behavioural patterns or environmental factors that invite procrastination
  • Creating a space that helps you navigate negative behaviour and eliminate distractions 
  • Adopting new routines, habits, and systems that inspire productivity and consistency
Photo by Andre Mouton

How to practice self-management

For me, the exercise in self-management began with a bullet journal – and I learned a ton of techniques from Matt Ragland on YouTube

In my journal, I map out each month with a double-page overview that includes:

  • 📊 a habit tracker of behaviours I want to instil in or eliminate from my daily routine  
  • 📝 the month’s most important to-dos both personally and professionally  
  • 🏅 and three goals I aim to accomplish that month 

I also outline each week with project deadlines and meetings as well as track the time I spend on the week’s top 12 tasks. 

Doing so offers great insight into my personal growth and professional development, with a progress report of my battle with procrastination and the fight against time. 

Practicing self-management not only improves your productivity, it’s a glorious remedy for your mental health – helping strengthen relationships with others, and more importantly, with yourself.

The fallacy of time management has one undeniable truth: there’s only so much to go around. How will you choose to spend it?

⏰ The clock’s tickin’. ⏰

The Diary of Davis Newsletter.
Photo by Aaron Burden

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