[Time Management #1] The Basis for Managing Your Time Effectively


“Time is totally perishable and cannot be stored. Yesterday’s time is gone forever and will never come back. Time is, therefore, always in exceedingly short supply. … Time is totally irreplaceable.”
-Peter Drucker in ‘The Effective Executive’

This article is the first in a series of four articles that presents the basics of diagnosing how you tend to spend your time and how you can develop the discipline of spending your time on what really matters to you.

Managing time effectively by managing priorities

The Basis for Managing Your Time

Life is all about values and the priorities you assign to these values. Life entails continually managing these priorities. Effective time management, therefore, necessitates figuring out your short-term and long-term priorities and appropriating your time according to these priorities.

Consider two examples from work.

  • Imagine that you lead projects A and B for your company. Say, using some metrics, you establish a 60:40 relative priority between these two projects. Clearly, this ratio should influence how you allot your time to projects A and B.
  • Suppose that client M generates $100M in revenue to your organization and client N generates just $2M in revenue. No matter how hard N pushes you to serve her, your priorities compel you to spend significantly higher resources serving M. It follows that your priorities will change if client N has the potential to grow to $40M in two years — you will then reorganize your resources accordingly.

Concluding Thoughts

In effect, effective time management is truly not about managing time as such; rather, it is about managing priorities. It is the discipline of focussing on the essentials and eliminating the non-essentials.

Before you begin to manage your time, you need to develop an idea of how you spend time currently. Tomorrow’s article will outline a simple technique for ‘time logging.’


  1. says

    Great article. Time management is really an oxymoron. As you say, time is not the thing that can be managed but rather the priorities of the tasks that we are to do. What it comes down to is how we manage ourselves in relation to time. Lets face it, we are all really busy, and if you are not careful you can end up being controlled by the tyranny of the urgent, constantly putting out fires. I find that prioritizing and planning your work (usually the at a weekly level), and then working your plan, is a great step towards getting the most important things done.

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