James Harvey Stout (deceased). This material is now in the public
domain. The complete collection of Mr. Stout's writing is now at
Jump to the following topics:
- What is time
- The techniques
of time management.
What is time management? It
is a collection of techniques by which we can use our time more
The techniques of
- Archetypal field-work:
- Self-talk. For example: "I work quickly." "I enjoy being
well-organized." "I have enough energy to accomplish my goals."
- Directed imagination. For example, we visualize ourselves
working effectively. And we visualize the goal as though we
have already attained it; this image can inspire us.
- Energy toning. We can develop the energy tones of
enthusiasm, vigor, etc.
- The "as if" principle. When we act "as if" we are managing
time well, we are indeed doing it.
- We make to-do lists. We can have to-do lists for various
time-periods (e.g., one day, or one week, or one month), and for
different areas of our life (e.g., our job, hobbies, household
chores, family matters, etc.). If we write tomorrow's list
today, we can be more objective regarding our priorities;
if we wait until tomorrow, our priorities might seem less
important than whatever we feel like doing.
- We prioritize our tasks. On our to-do lists, we can use
numbers or color-codes to indicate priorities. We complete the #1
item, then #2, and so on. Prioritizing helps to assure that we
will accomplish our most-important tasks, even if we don't
accomplish all of the tasks.
- We are organized. In a neat, orderly work-area, we know where
things are located, so we can find them quickly. However, some
people (e.g., those inscrutable right-hemisphere individuals) are
more productive among clutter and chaos.
- We delegate tasks. We might be able to delegate some tasks to
other people, e.g., our employees or our children.
- We divide a big job into smaller ones. The task is now less
intimidating and easier to schedule; it is an assortment of
smaller tasks which can be performed during smaller available
increments of time. However, this strategy has a disadvantage; we
require time to gather our materials each time we return to the
- We create deadlines -- or not. Some deadlines are imposed by
other people, e.g., our boss. When there are no innate reasons why
a task must be completed by a particular time, we can create our
own deadlines anyway -- for the purpose of motivation, challenge,
and maintain our focus.
- We learn to say "no" assertively. If we yield to every request
for help, our lives can become too full with responsibilities --
committee memberships, volunteer work, etc.
- We make a time log. With this record of our time usage, we can
see how we are spending our time; we might be surprised by the
amount of time that is squandered by unimportant tasks. To create
a time log, we pause at regular intervals to write a brief
description of our current activity; for example, at 11 a.m., we
"wrote a memo to Mr. Peterson"; at 11:15 a.m., we "swapped jokes
with Mary at the water cooler."
- We frequently remind ourselves of our goals. Thus, we do not
become overly distracted by the unrelated tasks which arise.
- We choose goals which are worthy. If we attain goals which are
not truly relevant to our values and our material needs, we have
wasted our time.
- We follow our own rhythm of work. To meet a deadline, we push
ourselves to work as long and hard as necessary. But when we don't
have a deadline, we are more productive if we pay attention to our
capabilities moment-by-moment. For example:
- We might notice that we have more energy at particular
times of the day. Some of us are "morning people," so we can
consistently schedule our challenging tasks for the morning.
- When we feel energetic, we can choose to work on our
difficult tasks. But when we are less energetic, we can perform
easier chores; we don't waste our time trying to do a job for
which we don't have enough vigor.
- We become sensitive to our various types of vitality. For
example, when we become weary from our intellectual tasks, we
can switch to a physical task, or a creative task, or an
interpersonal task. Thus, we create a rhythm in which we are
performing one type of duty while re-charging from the previous
- We allow ourselves some time for relaxation, recreation,
and vacations. If we try to work all of the time, we become
fatigued and less productive anyway, so we might as well take