Time Management is a Myth – Part 1

Time management is a myth. 

I once talked to a man who said, “My business is going well – better than I ever really thought it would. My problem is that it’s just eating up more and more of my time…and my life. I’m missing my kids’ ball games and I know I’ll never be able to get that time back and I don’t want to miss this time in their lives.” 

“What time management tips do you have for getting more things done in less time?”

Well, here’s a tip: You can’t add more time to your day, though I suspect more than a few of us have given that a shot. We finally realize that life doesn’t work so well on four hours of sleep a night… so now, we try working on the other end of the equation – packing more “doing” into each day. 

Have you ever heard the story of the monkey who reached his hand into a bottle to retrieve a toy he dropped into the bottle, only to find his hand stuck in the bottle? He couldn’t figure out why he’d been able to fit his hand into the bottle so easily, but when it came time to remove that same hand, it was stuck. The reason (obvious to any observer) is that his hand was now full.

For the monkey (and maybe for you and me), the key to freedom is found in letting go.

My business partner, Mike, loves to travel. Prior to the pandemic, he and his wife would take about three trips to Europe every year. And as a seasoned traveler, he learned how to pack.

Me? Not so much. When I approach the gate agent at the airport with my bags, I am sometimes accused of trying to save money by packing family members in the checked luggage. I am guilty of packing for every possible contingency.

Mike has learned the art of packing is knowing what not to bring on your journey. Just the essentials. Mike could survive in Europe for two weeks with five pairs of underwear, five shirts, two pairs of pants, and three changes of exercise clothes. All this packed neatly into an Eddie Bauer rolling bag which also converts into a backpack for carrying up the stairs at airports and train stations.

As your life and maybe even your business or career grow, so does the complexity of each. And we need to learn the same life lesson that I’ve had to learn about packing – you can’t bring everything with you. You’ve got to learn what not to bring. What to leave behind.

One of the most basic lessons in economics is that everything has a cost. And that cost is eventually determined by the market – by people. Prices are the “tool of communication” used in the marketplace to let other parties know how much we value a certain thing.

If I’m selling my wares in the marketplace, and no one is buying them, I’m getting a clear signal that my price is too high or my value is too low (that’s really the same thing). 

If your kids keep getting the message that their activities are not worth your attendance (i.e., you’re not “buying” them), they’re going to get the message that their value is too low. I’m pretty sure that’s a message none of us really intends to send to our children, but the message of your actions comes across loud and clear, no matter what you say with your words.

Again, time management is a myth. You don’t need to learn how to do more in less time. You need to learn what to leave behind on your journey ahead.

It’s called focus, and we’ll deal with that in greater detail next week.

Offering you Wisdom on Wealth, I’m Byron Moore.

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