Time Management is a Lie

August 25, 2011

We see and hear the words “time management” everywhere we go. But time management is a misnomer. To be blunt, it’s total B.S.

Time management would tell us that our productivity is measured by the results we get in a given time period. But if that’s true, how is it that a salesperson, for example, can make the same exact number of sales on two different days (the same amount of results in the same amount of time), yet feel extremely productive one day and totally unproductive the next?

The answer is only found when we stop believing the lie of so-called “time management.”

What exactly is the lie of time management? The lie is that we can increase our productivity by shortening the time it takes to produce a specific result. There are two flaws in this logic.

First, time is not a variable in the equation of productivity. You can choose to do something in a way that takes less clock time than the alternative, but time did not change; your choice changed. You chose a different process, and the duration of that process was less.

If you’re not quite understanding this important distinction, then think of a clock like a ruler. You can cut an object shorter in length, but the ruler did not change. Those whose job it is to make things smaller don’t focus on “ruler management,” do they? Choice, not time, is the relevant variable.

Second, this traditional objective understanding of productivity, though useful in evaluating the efficiency of assembly lines, doesn’t address your subjective feeling of productivity.

Validate this from your own experience: Think of a specific time when you were very busy and felt frustrated because you “didn’t have the time” to focus on what you really wanted to do. All of the results of that busy-ness didn’t make you feel productive, did they? Now think back to a time when you finally followed through on something important that you’d wanted to do for several weeks or even months. That one result made you feel very productive, didn’t it?

How is that possible? Many results = not productive. One result = productive. That doesn’t make sense in the traditional paradigm of “time management.”

In my experience helping people with their productivity challenges, I’ve never found the time-centered concept of productivity to describe accurately anyone’s actual experience of productivity. When a concept does not fit actual experience, it’s time for a new concept. So let’s redefine productivity to make it more meaningful and useful to us.

PRODUCTIVITY: The feeling you get from making progress on the things that are most important to you

Results by themselves never create a feeling of productivity. It’s your relationship to those results—how important they are to you—that determines how productive you feel. When you feel unproductive, it’s not that you didn’t produce results, it’s that you didn’t produce the results that were most important to you.

This begs a question that many people under the spell of “time management” forget to ask themselves: “What’s important to me?”

You may be thinking, “Of course I know what’s important to me.” But do you? Do you really know what’s most important to you? Do you know why it’s so important? And maybe most sobering of all, can you explain—if it is indeed so important to you—why you so often choose to focus on things that are less important?

Anytime you feel busy, but not productive, you’re neglecting what’s most important to you and focusing on what isn’t. This all too common “busy, not productive” feeling is a natural consequence of focusing on how much you can do and how fast you can do it.

So instead of trying to “manage time,” focus on making more effective choices:

  1. Identify what’s most important to you, and then…
  2. Choose as often as possible to focus on what’s most important to you, while you…
  3. Work to understand and overcome the obstacles that prevent or distract you from focusing on what’s most important to you.

Each of these steps can be challenging; they are skills that must be developed. But the good news is, they are just skills—learnable skills that you can master.

And yes, on a balance sheet or annual report, objective results matter. But in your personal experience of life, your relationship to the results you produce, not simply the results themselves, determines how productive you feel. When you understand that difference, and you learn to view productivity as a feeling, you open yourself to real and lasting solutions to your so-called “time management” problems.

(Adapted from Peaceful Productivity Now by Curtis G. Schmitt.)


Want to master the process of making powerful and effective choices?

Click here to download a free 10-page excerpt from Peaceful Productivity Now: The Busy Person’s Guide to Getting Things Done & Loving Life.

In just the first 10 pages, you’ll discover:

  • The source of your personal power
  • The most useful and effective way to understand time
  • The two different “types” of time, and why one causes stress but the other doesn’t
  • What you’re actually managing when you think you’re “managing time”
  • And, most importantly, how to once and for all solve your “time-related” problems

You can continue to scapegoat “time” as the source of your stress, or you can learn how to…

Transform Stressful Productivity into PEACEFUL Productivity NOW!


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More Joy, Peace, Happiness, Abundance, Love, and Freedom

February 25, 2011

If you want to experience more of something in your life (joy, peace, happiness, abundance, gratitude, love, freedom, etc.), the key is to focus on it.

“Great, Curtis, but how do I do that?”

I will share the most powerful tool in guiding your focus and revealing unseen opportunities or blocks, a tool you’ve been using (whether you knew it or not) your whole life: Questions.

Questions are difficult to ignore. If you’ve ever been nagged by a child asking the same question over and over again, then you know what I mean. Questions create a space that your mind wants (almost needs) to fill. In other words, questions beg answers.

Here’s a list of 10 questions you can start with to consciously create more of the experiences you desire in life. I’ve used “play” in the example, but you can substitute anything else you might want to experience more of, like joy, peace, happiness, etc.

(Note that in these questions, you’re personifying the experience to shift your perspective. It may feel different at first, but that’s the point.)

  1. What’s most important to Play?
  2. What’s unimportant to Play?
  3. What environments does Play feel most comfortable in?
  4. What environments does Play feel most uncomfortable in?
  5. What does Play believe?
  6. What words does Play use when it speaks?
  7. What words would Play never use?
  8. Where in your body does Play feel most at home?
  9. What scares Play?
  10. What inspires Play?

You can take your answers to these questions and use them to make some new choices. For example, if Play likes being outside and doesn’t like being inside, you can now use this insight to schedule more time for yourself outside.

I invite you to share your answers, insights, and experiences by commenting below.


Learning to focus on what’s most important to you is one of the key steps in effective and peaceful productivity. If you tend to feel stressed and overwhelmed, you’re spending too much of your time on things that are not important.

Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Work Week and The 4-Hour Body has achieved tremendous happiness and success living by this fundamental principle: “I have more than enough time to do everything that’s truly important.”

If you’d like to learn a simple and effective 6-step planning process that keeps you focused on what’s most important, click here. Trade your stress for success!



The End of Time Management

April 14, 2009

Discover why your biggest “time management” challenge is not time, and find out what you can do to increase your productivity and effectiveness in any area of your life.

Part 1:

Part 2:


Procrastination: 3 Different Types

September 16, 2008

Listen to a short podcast on the first of 3 different types of procrastination:

[ Or, download this podcast. ]

Procrastination: 3 Different Types

Procrastination is one of the most common productivity challenges. Some people struggle with it often across all areas of their lives, others infrequently in only particular areas of their lives. But most of us have experienced it at one time or another.

The word itself does little in the way of helping us identify a solution. It simply describes a phenomenon: The act of putting off something you could do now for later.

But there are several reasons why a person might do such a thing. And different solutions depending on the reason.

I’ve created 3 categories to help my clients understand procrastination and what to do about it:

  1. Chore procrastination
  2. Dream procrastination
  3. Type 3 procrastination (descriptive name, right?)

Chore procrastination is when a person puts off a task that holds little or no intrinsic appeal, but the outcome of the task is valued.

Dream procrastination is when a person puts off a task related to a big goal or dream.

Type 3 procrastination is a catch-all category for procrastination that doesn’t involve a dream or a chore. Typically, this type requires a closer look to understand what it’s really about.

These are generalizations. Often a person’s own brand of procrastination blends the three. But before you can overcome your procrastination, identify which type or types it is.

Is what you’re procrastinating simply a chore, or is it related to some big goal or dream you’re pursuing?

If it’s neither, or you’re not sure, look closer at what the result will be if you completed the task you were procrastinating. What will that result be (describe it in as much detail as you can)? Why is that result important? Is that result related to one of your big goals or dreams?

Your answers may lead you to the conclusion that the result is not important to you. In which case you need to ask yourself why this task is on your to-do list at all. (I’ve written more about this subject in a previous post.)

If you try to overcome your procrastination before you identify what type or types it is, you’re likely to fail and frustrate yourself. Once you know the type, you can get to the business of solving it.

©2008 Curtis G. Schmitt

Overcoming Procrastination

To learn more about identifying the 3 different types of procrastination and how exactly you can solve each, register for a powerful and fun teleclass at http://www.TurnOnToLife.com/teleclass/procrastination.html


Can Procrastination Be Good?

September 8, 2008

Listen to a short podcast on how procrastination can actually be a good thing.

[ Or, download this podcast. ]

The GOOD Kind of Procrastination

Many people come to me wanting help overcoming their procrastination. My first question to them is this:

Is it the good kind of procrastination or the bad kind?

“Curtis, what in the world is the GOOD kind of procrastination?”

I’m happy you asked. 🙂

There are different reasons for procrastination. Some are fear based, and those are the ones that I help my clients overcome.

But procrastination can also be a signpost that your actions and your values are out of sync. In other words, procrastination can reveal that you’ve committed to something that isn’t important to you.

For example, for years and years I pursued music. I put together bands, I wrote and recorded songs, I took guitar lessons. It was my “dream” to be a successful musician, and everyone around me knew it.

Yet I procrastinated 90% of the time. Why?

What I ultimately learned was that years earlier I’d created an identity for myself as a musician. I fell in love with the IDEA of playing music. But my heart wasn’t in it. I rarely enjoyed it, and it was always a struggle for me.

Procrastination was a warning sign that I’d made a choice that didn’t serve me. It was like a blinking red warning light that something was out of whack in my life.

When I finally stopped pursuing music, it was such a relief. I felt like I’d been released from prison–my own prison that I’d created out of an expectation I had for myself.

So before you try to “overcome” your procrastination, take a look at where it’s coming from.

Understanding Procrastination

If you find yourself procrastinating (especially if it’s ongoing procrastination), ask yourself these questions:

1. What specifically am I procrastinating?

This may seem obvious, but often it’s not. “I procrastinate my work.” Okay, so what kinds of work, exactly? Be specific.

2. Why am I procrastinating?

Don’t settle for the first answer that comes to you, especially if it doesn’t contain an insight. Keep asking yourself (lovingly, not like an interrogator) until you learn something about the source of your procrastination.

3. What choice will serve me the most?

Remember my music example? If I’d asked this question and been open to an honest answer, I would have seen much sooner how music wasn’t serving me.

Trying to overcome your procrastination without first understanding where it’s coming from can make you feel worse by adding layers of guilt on top of a choice that isn’t serving you in the first place.

©2008 Curtis G. Schmitt

Overcoming Procrastination

I’ve identified 3 different types of procrastination. Each type has a different solution. If you try to overcome one type of procrastination with the wrong kind of solution, you’ll fail and frustrate yourself.

To find out more about this powerful teleclass, and to learn how to identify and overcome the different types of procrastination, visit http://www.TurnOnToLife.com/teleclass/procrastination.html


Be a Leader in Your Life and Your Business

April 15, 2008

“Leadership is action, not position.”
— Donald H. McGannon

A general in the United States armed forces created two separate teams to develop each of two possible plans to achieve a set objective. Both teams were filled with the smartest and most skilled people the general could find.

After several months of preparation, each team presented its plan to the general, outlining its virtues, costs, timeline for implementation, etc. Both plans were top notch.

When the presentations concluded, the general spoke…

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