This is a toolbox page.
Time management is a system to reduce a person’s life to a list of activities that are to be done at given times. Time management also includes techniques on how to stay on schedule to accomplish the activities.
I found myself pushed and pulled in different directions by competing aspects of who I am. I sat down and negotiated a contract where all parts of my being got to have a say in what my one and only mind/body thought/did. Anything short of my doing this was just continuing the cold war that was leading to little getting done. Sometimes things would heat up and the simmering, just below the surface, conflict would escalate into shouting matches, skirmishes, combat, and even open warfare.
To make peace, I created a regimen that incorporates project management and mind management.
The downside of this endeavor is that I became a slave. Albeit a slave to myself. But a slave nonetheless.
Worse, I became a master. A master over myself. But a master nonetheless.
I don’t like telling others what to do. And I don’t like being told what to do. And here I’d gone and gotten myself in a situation where I had to tell and be told.
Thus I found that for me, time management is a difficult discipline to master, and it’s a difficult discipline to serve. That is, first I have to figure it out and make the schedule. Next I have to keep the schedule.
What is especially hard is transitioning from subservient to chief mode, and then back into sub mode.
I wrote an essay about this which I’ll quote here:
Management is about sitting back and thinking and imagining a future. Management’s goal is to give orders and to ensure the job gets done within budget and on schedule. Labor is about doing one piece of the job at a time. Labor operates in the here and now, ignoring past and future.
Management has to avoid getting bogged down by nitty-gritty details, or even reality. Labor has to overcome inherent human sluggishness and the distraction of desires.
The natural rivalry between labor and management leads to an internal build up of resentment. When working, management is pushing on labor, and labor is resisting. And vice versa, labor is pushing on management, and management is resisting. Newton phrased it this way: for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. To mediate, I open a channel of communication, an open forum via a journal.
That journal is whattime management is all about.
Elements of time management
There are three categories of elements of time management. The interaction of these elements is what I call time management.
The first category is mind tools. Mind tools are thought patterns that are initiated with certain formulaic statements that are thought in the mind.
The second category is body tools. Body tools are actions that are done by the human body. Body tools include speech, movement of the hands, and legs, etc.
The third category is world tools. World tools are objects and devices that assist in time managing. This includes pen, paper, timepieces, smartphones and associated apps, etc. Timepieces measure the passsge of time. Tools like pen and paper record the passage of time segments, and record activity in time segments.
A timepiece is a core tool of time management. A timepiece is a device to keep track of time. A watch is a timepiece. A smartphone is a timepiece. A musician has an instrument to play music with. A carpenter has his toolbox. Many fields use computers, such as an architect designing a building. A time manager has a timepiece.
The interplay between time management and mind management
Managing time starts with managing the mind. Before there is time management, there is mind management. And before there is mind management there is time management.
Allow me to explain.
The mind is affected by the activities of the body. And the body is affected by the activities of the mind.
This is the concept of a feedback loop.
Think of it like a spiral, or a staircase, or even a ladder. A simple example will illustrate.
Say someone wants to improve their ability to throw a ball and catch. They might locate a ball, and find a wall to throw it against. Then they throw the ball against the wall, attempt to catch it, and repeat. The more they engage in the practice, the better they get at throwing and catching.
Now, let’s break down what really happened.
The mind had a vague idea to get better at throwing and catching. The mind directed the body to locate a ball and wall. The body located the ball and wall, picked up the ball and moved close to the wall. Now the mind directed the body to throw the ball at the wall and attempted to catch the ball. The body threw the ball at the wall and attempted to catch the ball. Depending on how that worked out, the process continued. If the ball was thrown too low the first time, the mind might direct the body to throw the ball higher the next time.
Eventually, the person gets better at throwing and catching. As he practices he moves up the spiral.
Let’s break this task down using some rudimentary symbolic logic symbols.
means the mind is having thought “xyz”
means the body is performing action “xyz”
mind (xyz) -> body
means the mind is directing thought “xyz” to body
body (xyz) -> mind
means body is directing outcome of action “xyz” to mind
Thus, the throwing and catching task can be broken down into steps like this:
mind (desire to improve throwing and catching skills)
mind (locate a ball and a wall) -> body
body (locates a ball and wall)
body (ball and wall located) -> mind
mind (proceed to wall with ball) -> body
body (proceeds to wall with ball)
body (at wall with ball) -> mind
mind (throw ball at wall and catch ball as it bounces back) -> body
body (throws ball at wall and catches ball)
body (ball thrown and caught) -> mind
Now, the actual process in real life would be much more complicated. It would probably take a book length treatise to even begin to formulate the true interplay between body and mind, including all kinds of decision flowcharts depending on such possibilities like if anyone else is playing catch at the wall, what the weather is, and so on.
However, as far as time management itself, the chart above can be remarkably useful for two reasons.
Firstly, the chart allows us to place certain thoughts and and actions at given places in time and space.
Secondly, if we find that the task did not get done, the chart can be continually refined until the task does get done.
Now, let’s apply this technique to reading a book.
The mind makes a decision to read a book. The mind directs the body to create a schedule for reading the book. The body makes the schedule. The mind tells the body to set an alarm on a timepiece. The body sets the alarm. The mind tells the body to keep the timepiece and book in close proximity to the body. The body keeps the timepiece and schedule in close proximity and perodically checks on location of timepiece and book. The mind directs the body to make frequent checks of the schedule and timepiece.
The schedule for reading the book might be along these lines:
Day1 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm: pages 001 – 030
Day2 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm: pages 030 – 060
Day3 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm: pages 060 – 090
Day4 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm: pages 090 – 120
Day5 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm: pages 120 – 150
Day6 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm: pages 150 – 180
In symbolic logic, the time management chart might be along these lines:
(01) mind (decides to read book)
(02) mind (make schedule for reading book) -> body
(03) body (makes schedule for reading book)
(04) body (schedule made) -> mind
(05) mind (set alarm on timepiece) -> body
(06) body (sets alarm)
(07) body (alarm set) -> mind
(08) mind (keep timepiece and schedule in close proximity) -> the body
(09) body (keeps timepiece and schedule in close proximity to the body)
(10) mind (check location of timepiece and schedule periodically) -> body
(11) body (perodically checks location of timepiece and schedule )
(12) mind (ocassionally check timepiece and schedule)
(13) body (the time is ___ ; the schedule is ___) -> mind
(14) mind (don’t make any conflicting schedules) -> body
(15) body (on alert not to make conflicting schedule)
In my experience, the place where time management fails for some people is steps (08) – (15).
The reason some people fail there is because those steps are what might be called the “I care” steps. It is the nature of the mind and body to neglect things. The way to overcome that tendency to neglect is to care. Care is the opposite of neglect. Care means giving attention.
Forces that work against time management
Someone’s action at any time may be conveived of as the sum of force vectors operating on the person.
Consider a ship or boat in a river or ocean. The boat is left to just float. There is a captain. There is a rudder. But in our hypothetical case both are idle. The direction the boat moves will be the sum of the forces acting on it, principally the wind, and the currents in the water. Maybe a tugboat.
People live in a time stream. They are being acted on by many forces. Those forces include:
-The lazy force: the tendency to do nothing
-The not caring force: the tendency to not value things
-The fear force: this is related to the lazy force. The fear force is a justification for being lazy. Not to be confused with the genuine fear force.
-The overlords force: overlords are people who a person does what they tell him. Overlords can exert active force and passive force. For example a spouse who makes demands that require an instant response is both active or passive. Active in the sense that when a demand has been made it must be responded to immediately. Passive because even when there is no immediate demand the person is held back from doing anything because they need to be on constant stand-by.
The only way to time manage is to add the Ruler force. The ruler force is the overlord of the overlords. This is the force that can dictate caring enough to get the task done. This is the force than can overcome all the other forces, and force the other forces to serve it. The Ruler force puts the captain and helmsman on board.