Time Management: Help or Hindrance?

by Brenda Lenz

Time Management for Nontraditional StudentsTime management. What is it and what does it mean? Well, obviously, it means to manage time. But what is it, really? Is it an art? Is it a vehicle for perfectionism? Is it something to keep control freaks busy? Or, is it simply a waste of time? In the next few sentences I would like to explore the issue of time management and discover once and for all if time management really is manageable.

For me, time management is a way to make order out of chaos. I am a perfectionist and a control freak, so time management is my best friend, and definitely something to keep me busy. I prefer when my day goes smoothly and efficiently. I like having my ducks in a row. I’m the type who will gather my supplies before beginning a project, and read the instructions completely (sometimes two or three times to make sure I get it right). Order is king!

To my sister, who is more haphazard than I, time management is simply a waste of her time. The time she spends planning her day is time that could be spent DOING her day. She prefers to take life as it comes. Running from fire to fire is exhilarating to her, and makes life “interesting.” She’s a “fly by the seat of her pants” kind of gal. Routine is boring to my sister, and she’ll change things up as often as she can. Time management involves too much structure for her. She never gets sidetracked because her whole day is a sidetrack, and she wouldn’t know the difference. “You can’t put life in a tidy little box!” she says. Little does she know.

Then there’s the “sometimer,” the person who manages their time kind of willy-nilly. One day they’ll plan, the next day they won’t. The “sometimer” manages their time sometimes. They either forget to take a few minutes to plan their day, or their mind is racing with the day’s “to do” list and they can’t sit still long enough to put it on paper. They get antsy to get going. Sometimes, the “sometimer” will stop in the middle of their day, realizing that it’s out of control, and try to order the remaining hours. It’s a very haphazard sort of organization (if those two words can even really go together).

More often than not, the “sometimer” simply can’t always get it together. Their heart is in the right place. They WANT to be organized and make good use of the time they’re given, but life sidetracks them. They are kind of like Hammy in the movie “Over the Hedge.” He starts out going for the button on the alarm system, but gets sidetracked by the cookie on the roof. He started out focused, but something caught his eye and he got off track. It could happen to anyone (except us perfectionists, of course). One day they’ll get it right and have every day planned out to the last second, knowing exactly where they are going and what they will be doing – no sidetracks – one day.

Time management is many things to many people; an art form, a pain, a goal to be achieved, something to do. Whatever it is to you, make the best use of it. That is, after all, the bottom line right? To simply not waste what you’ve been given. So if you’ve been given the talent to fly by the seat of your pants, fly high! If you have a knack for stopping and smelling the cookies (I mean roses), smell on! Whether you manage your time, or your time manages you, doesn’t really matter if your life is rich and satisfying. And I’ll venture to guess that those who can manage their time to include smelling cookies (I mean roses, sorry!) are the most satisfied.


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