Doing What Matters Without Managing Your Time


Time management is touted as one of the most important skills to lead a productive life.  My own experience with time management was not a positive one in getting the important things done. Scheduling activities, prioritizing and keeping track stressed me out, and step by step, things started to slip.

Instead of managing my time, I started managing my priorities. I split my activities into two categories: things I have to do and things I really want to do. Then made sure that I allocated a chunk of time every day to the things I really wanted to do. The activities I had to do will get done no matter what.

“Time is a created thing. To say ‘I don’t have time’, is like saying, ‘I don’t want to’” ~Lao Tzu

It is a confusion of priorities that leads to wasting time more than not having time. All of us have access to the same 24 hours. What we do with these hours is up to us.

It is easy to get distracted by outside demands, expectations and commitments. Usually the most important things are the things that we want to do for ourselves (e.g. spending more quality time with loved ones, learning a new skill or hobby, getting fit and healthy).

Our commitments to others have a deadline attached to them and the consequences are measurable in the short-term. If you have a report due at work, it has to be done by a certain time otherwise you will be held accountable.

Our commitments to ourselves on the other hand have long-term consequences. There are no immediate consequences and no one to hold us accountable. When we don’t take care of our health, the result may take years to manifest. No one notices if they just gained a pound or two. But over five to ten years this can turn into significant weight gain.

In the short term we put off what matters the most because it’s not urgent. There is no rush to start writing that novel you’ve always been wanting to do. There is always tomorrow to start your workout program.

But what if the quality of your life depended on it?

When you are not doing what is important to you, there is this inner voice that nags you constantly. This mental stress can make your life miserable. Worse yet, you may learn to tune out this inner voice  and become indifferent to your own well being.

Slow and steady wins the race

Most of what matters can be started in very small steps and will not require a dramatic change to your daily routine. If you decide to take a 15 minute walk every day, all other things being equal in your life, you can burn around 25,000 calories in a year which will result in losing  seven pounds.

Spending 15 minutes a day can give you more than 90 hours a year to work on a hobby or a new skill.

The best time to do anything is now. Make a commitment to yourself and start focusing on what matters to you.