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You Don’t Need to Manage Time, You Need to Manage Yourself

I published a new book less than a week ago called Change Your Frame, Change Your Life. It’s based on 20 years of observing, working with, working for and working around other people and in a nutshell, teaches the concept of looking at people, places and things in a not-so-negative way. In these odd times, I find that to be the most critical thing we all need to get good at.

But that’s neither where my story starts or ends. CYFCYL is lifted from Get Ahead of Your Time, which was the second nonfiction book series I published. There, I introduce a concept that, over the span of my career as a Project Manager, I have found eludes many of my peers, colleagues and and friends both past and present. The concept, truly, is quite simple: it is impossible for you to manage Time. And by that I mean scientifically and philosophically, both.

Physicist Albert Einstein challenged the notion that Time itself is a constant. Instead, he said that time is relative. That it is an illusion experienced by the observer, which changes depending on that observer’s movement through space. This is partially how I began my own journey in understanding that everything, not just Time, is relative depending on the observer. How you look at something changes depending on your perspective. If you suffer from vertigo, standing atop a mountain peak may petrify you whereas your neighbor, who has no fear of heights, finds doing so to be the most exhilarating moment of his life.

Therefore, I ask those who take my courses, attend my lectures and read my books to look at Time differently on purpose, rather than because they’re astronauts traveling in spaceships. Reframing — also known as cognitive reframing — can help us in every situation, including so-called Time Management. You cannot control Time. Nobody can. What you can do is manage yourself in the time we all have available to us, and that requires looking at things differently than you do now.

If every single person on Earth had to be at their work desk at 8:00 a.m. their local time, and everyone took the exact same amount of time to get ready for work from the moment they woke up until the moment they sat down at their computer, then regardless how long we’d all been doing our routines, inevitably, some of us would be varying degrees of early, some would be on-time and some would be varying degrees of late. That’s because in spite of the fact that we all had the exact same amount of time granted to us to “get ready,” we each handled it differently. We each manage ourselves differently from minute to minute, whether we’re trying to get ready for something or just going about day-to-day drudgery.

Manage YOU. If you have an hour before you have to be somewhere, don’t wait until you only have 15 minutes to start your “get ready” regimen. Manage yourself for the hour that you have, because you can’t make Time do anything. In spite of what various anime and movies and books might purport in the world of fiction, you literally cannot bend, expand or contract Time. So stop saying Time Management. Stop thinking Time Management. Start thinking Me Management.

This is not something a lot of people want to do because it involves taking responsibility for your own behavior rather than blaming someone else — in this case, Time. Don’t believe me? Let’s take a few for-instances.

Have you ever said the words, “I didn’t have enough time” or “I wasn’t given enough time” or “There wasn’t enough time” or “Time got away from me” or “Time goes by so fast” — well, I’ll stop there because I figure you get the idea. The fact is that if we are late to work, we will blame anything and everything — Time included — in order to absolve ourselves of guilt. We’re hardwired that way. The unfortunate news flash is this: Time bears no responsibility for the fact that you didn’t complete something, do something, meet a goal or objective or get somewhere in the time frame you were meant to. You are the only responsible party here. 

This is the point at which my students start protesting. “What about things outside our control?” they ask, such as, having a sick child you have to figure out what to do with in the morning when you’re supposed to be getting ready for work, or the unexpected traffic jam on the freeway that keeps you from completing your commute on time, and so forth. It’s true that there are always unexpected curve balls that life will throw your way, and whether or not you bear responsibility for any of those is not for me to say. But those unexpected occurrences are usually not everyday occurrences. You can explain away some of the mismanagement on these “outside of you” events, but not all of them and not every minute of every day.

The only ask I ever have of anyone — myself included — is that you really stop and think about what you plan to do and whether or not that’s bound to lead to mismanaging yourself in the time we all have. If you know that you’re in a race against the clock for something you have to do, stop procrastinating. Do the thing and get it out of the way and it’ll be done, you’ll be less harried and there will be a lot less “complain & blame” as I call it. Get Ahead of Your Time offers you a way to figure out why you are experiencing a particular pain point — in this case we could be referring to “always being late” — and walks you step by step through the issue to find a way to resolve it satisfactorily.

But I’m not here to sell you any of my books, which is why you’ll find no advertising or links or even redirections to Amazon. Because I truly just want to help, and the first step in overcoming anything in your life is to take responsibility for yourself and your actions. Starting with how you manage yourself in the 24 hours you have each and every day that you’re alive is a darn good start.

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