Time Management

Time Orientation vs Task Orientation

        Are you time orientated or task orientated? What is the difference? They are really two different personalities. For example, a time orientated person (like myself) is more concerned with how much time something takes while a task orientated person is more concerned with getting the task done. They are more likely to see time as renewable and more concerned with the actual task at hand and not concerned with how long it will take. A good way to put this is to see hourly wages (time-orientation) vs salary (task orientation). With an hourly wage, the employee is paid strictly based on the amount of time they work while a salaried employee is paid the same for the task (position). Since I am time orientated, I would prefer to be paid hourly because I then know none of my time will be spent working for free (again that’s how I view it). A task orientated person may not mind as well with that but again would not be the person to go to when it comes to actually tracking the time and finding the most efficient way.

         Of course both time orientated people and task orientated people work both salary and hourly jobs and may prefer one to the other for various reasons because there are benefits to both. Typically, higher paid positions are salary, but again, this is not always true. Also, we usually don’t have the luxury to pick which pay structure we want and if you have your own business, there will be plenty “working for free” in the beginning.

        It is important to know which one you are more like. You can be a good amount of both and there are times where it is better to be both. Please see below the table for time orientation vs task orientation based on my observation.


  • Concerned with how much time the tasks take
  • Keeps track of time
  • Can get impatient with things taking too long
  • Prefers quicker tasks, but can handle more tasks
  • Faster paced


  • Concerned with how many tasks
  • Keep track of tasks
  • Can get impatient with too many tasks
  • Prefers bigger tasks and projects
  • Slower paced

    Again, anyone could be a combination of both. This is just a guide to find out more of who you are. I will get more in depth about time orientation vs task orientation in a later post.

Stress and Time Management

      Stress and Time Management go together quite frequently. They come with an inverse relationship. The more you manage your time well, the less stress you have. The less you manage your time well, the more stress. Of course, managing time is not the only answer to stress, but sure can help. I can personally attest to that. The better I get at managing my time, the less stress I have in general. Life is never so easy to be stress free, but on the bright side, there will always be a challenge and therefore a drive towards getting better. That is what makes time management interesting to me. I can work on it my entire life and always improve and find a solution to something. 

       We are all well aware of the negative effects of stress. However, having too little stress is not good either because then there is no drive to improve. How to avoid getting overwhelmed is an art and takes practice. Here is a three step process that could be applied to reduce time related stress.

        First, write out a to do list or use an app. Personally, much of the stress is knowing I have a lot to do but not seeing it written out before me. The only thing in my head is "I am so overwhelmed and do not know where to begin." It is valuable to actually know what is ahead and have it mapped out. What works extremely well for me is a good to do list app. Personally, I use Nozbe (one of the most amazing apps of all time) to track everything I need to do and I get tremendous satisfaction of checking things off. I also enjoy knowing what needs to be done. This works really well for me and keeps me on track. 

       Secondly, keep a schedule. This can be in conjunction with the to do list. The to do list will tell you what you need to do and your schedule will tell you when. 

       One last thing to add to the mix is the time budget because this will tell you how much time you have. Finding an effective way to integrate the to do list, schedule, and time budget is essential. 

       This is the process that I use and it helps me maximize efficiency. Again, whatever works for you is the best. My to do list is very detailed and so is my schedule and time budget, but maybe less detailed will work better for you. This is still a work in progress for me as I write this, and I haven’t perfected it. I probably never will. I will always keep improving. This will be the same for you as well. One thing I can say for sure is that there is less stress as I continually improve my processes.

People that Waste Your Time

    There are people that simply waste your time. You probably already have someone in mind after just reading the first sentence. I know I have people in my life like this before. More often than not, a lot of people who would qualify for this award is probably no longer in your life. While cutting someone off should be the first solution, there are times when it is sometimes necessary. Also, there are times when you should distance yourself from a person at one time and reunite at a later time. 

    The first step of determining if someone is wasting your time is to do an analysis of the relationship in general. Is the relationship with this person bringing you closer to your goals or giving you energy to grow closer to them? If you don’t think the relationship is helping you, then it is time to consider the status of this relationship. This could be in reference to a co-worker, friendship, or even a family member. If the friendship is one-sided (meaning only one person is benefiting), then there needs to be reevaluation done. The first step is to talk it out and see what can be done differently. If that doesn’t seem to work out, then I would suggest less time with the person. This is especially important if they are a drain to you. Let’s also discuss what a good friendship is. 

    A good working relationship should be bringing you closer to your goals, even if it is something like an employee-employer relationship, where you as the employee get at the very least a pay check and some kind of experience (hopefully valuable). Of course depending on the industry, job, and particular company, this can look different in terms of the type of pay check, experience, and training you may receive on the job. While it is very important to have a job for income purposes and to keep yourself active, the type of job does matter. If you are at a job that you don’t like or with people you don’t like, and there isn’t any chance of it getting better and you have been trying for many months or years, than you are due for a change. There’s an adage that I came up with for a situation like this: Don't try to blow up a popped balloon.

    Of course not all people are in our lives to have a working relationship with. Others are meant to be friends and to have fun with, pursue hobbies, and relax with. These people may not help you towards a career or business goal, but are good for us to enjoy ourselves and to bring energy for when we pursue our work and other aspects of our lives. It is important to have people like this in our lives to bring us energy and give us something to look forward to.

    Some people could fall into both the “work” and “play” category at the same time, but be careful when this is the case so that the lines don’t get blurred. Also, it is possible for a person to be in the “play” category in one season and then in the “work” category at another time in life or vice a versa. It is very important to have a balance so that we can get the most out of our life. 

Setting up Systems that Work

     One thing I notice when I start working at something new is that the task takes extremely long to accomplish. For example, tasks that now take five minutes used to take 30 or 45 minutes! It was such a waste of time. Part of the problem was simply not knowing what to do. The next step was once I did know what I was doing, was finding the best way to do it. As the cliche saying goes, practice makes perfect (well more like practice makes better because I believe there is always room for improvement and not really a "perfect" way to complete a task). Once comfortable with a task or procedure, the next step is to increase efficiency. This can be accomplished by setting up a system. 

    What is a system? I am glad you asked! It is whatever makes a process more efficient. Ever try to do something haphazard and all over the place? That's never the most efficient way to do something. Having a detailed schedule, managing a to do list, and writing out procedures are all examples of systems. For example, when keeping a detailed schedule, there must be some way to maintain and upkeep the schedule. It could involve making the schedule for the next day the night before, or making the schedule for the next week on Sunday night. If you are really good, a whole month in advance. Whatever works best for you is the best system. For me, it is usually the night before for the most part since my schedule can change and sometimes there are a lot of contingencies involved some days so it is somewhat difficult to plan sometimes.

      Using certain apps and programs can really help putting these systems in place. Again, whatever works best for you will be the best. For me, Google Calendar for my schedule is amazing! It syncs on every device, even on iCal for Mac and iOS calendar programs with near perfection. I use Nozbe for my To-Do list and aTimeLogger to track my time. These are all amazing tools but not the only ones, so find the ones that work best for you.

     One more thing about systems is that it is important to actually implement them. Some times it can be fun to build a system and process and then get lost in the excitement and end up not actually implementing it. If that's the case, then it is just a waste of time and pointless. I've been guilty of this before, I have put detailed and good schedules into place but not actually follow them. Even now that happens at times, usually in the morning. It really does take discipline to implement a system, not just developing it. The best thing to do is to keep persevering and tweaking until you do have something that works. Right now, getting a good schedule in place and following it consistently is something I am working on.

     There are also times when exceptions to the system in place can be a good thing. Breaking out of the routine is necessary because we are not robots. It can be beneficial to break out of our system because we can often find new ways of doing things and end up enhancing our procedures. Sometimes, I do find it better to keep my schedule open or not make a schedule at all and sort of unwind. Don’t become a prisoner to your system but feel free to change it and even completely do away with it if it is something that is no longer working for you. That way you can create another system that will work better.

The Power of Focus

     I have already touched upon the drawbacks of distraction. Just to reiterate, distractions are very detrimental to productivity, efficiency, and for our general happiness. One thing I can't stand is being interrupted. I don't like interruptions even if I have nothing that important to do. I can't stand being derailed from what I am doing, just to do something else and again lose all the time it takes to switch focus from one thing to another. This is how working for someone else can possibly be difficult because you have little control of how you spend your time and what to prioritize. This of course is a case by case basis and many factors come into play. In my work experience so far, I frequently have had one boss coming with a priority, coworkers with priorities, customer/client requests, and so on. Everyone wants your time and when you are paid by someone else, they have control of the time. This is the classic trading time for dollars of working a "9-5" which can take the form of all different hours but ultimately is the same thing. I say all of this to emphasize the value of focus.

     Focus is extremely important. Just as distractions can derail you, focus can save you time and accelerate your goals and tasks. The first step to finding your best focus is finding out when you focus best. One way to go about this is to track your time. Do a task that requires a good amount of focus but doesn't take too long. Also, this task must always take about the same amount of time. A good example is reading a page of a book (use the same book with a comparable amount of words). If you already know when your focus is best, then you can skip this step and go ahead with working the best time. Some tasks are better at certain times than others. Everyone is different and there are several studies that talk about when it's best to be creative, best to learn, best to do physical activity, etc. The best solution is to find what works for you. This can change throughout the course of your life as well. For example, I used to read in the morning but if I have to be at work early, then I don't have time to read and it is better to read in the evening even if it's not my ideal time.

     Whenever you can focus the best is the best way to set up your schedule. Of course most of us have circumstances that prevent us from creating our ideal schedule. It could be a job or various family factors such as small children or being a caretaker that can prevent us from creating our ideal schedule. Since we live in a world that is not ideal, we should not drive ourselves crazy trying to develop this ideal schedule!

     Another important thing to remember is to not try to do this all at once. It is best to do this little by little. Keep making consistent progress and you will find yourself with a close to ideal schedule that allows you to be very productive. This will take time. I am still tweaking my schedule frequently and have been keeping schedules for 14 years!