Time Management versus Task Management


Based on a lifespan of 80 years, we all come into this world with an inventory of 42,076,800 minutes and we really don’t have much control over how these get used up. Do nothing and you lose 1 minute per minute, become totally absorbed in something and the rate of consumption is 1 minute per minute.

It follows that “time management” is an oxymoron. We should be talking about task management.

Let’s take a look at the nature of work.

When you come into your place of work on any given day, you will have fixed time tasks to perform (appointments, meetings) and you will have floating time tasks (to-do list) to perform. Unless you are particularly good at multi-tasking, you will plan your day around your fixed time tasks and then trim your to-do list by scheduling floating time tasks before and after your fixed time tasks.

Most people like to have control over their to-do list. My personal preference most days is to advance one or two long duration tasks and complete a few short duration tasks.  If you only focus on short/easy-to-do tasks chances are you never get around to showing progress on long duration tasks.  If you take up an entire day on a long duration task, it’s easy to get bogged down, so the idea of a mix of long/short duration tasks makes sense.

In the performance of any task, it’s important to keep a focus on an objective. Completion of a task should be the objective for short duration tasks, advancement to some milestone should be the objective for long duration tasks.

Bottom line, if you want productivity, focus on task management not on time management.

About kwkeirstead@civerex.com

Management consultant and process control engineer (MSc EE) with a focus on bridging the gap between operations and strategy in critical infrastructure protection, healthcare, connect-the-dots law enforcement investigations, job shop manufacturing and b2b organizations. (C) 2010-2017 Karl Walter Keirstead, P. Eng. All rights reserved. The opinions expressed here are those of the author, and are not connected with Jay-Kell Technologies Inc, Civerex Systems Inc. (Canada), Civerex Systems Inc. (USA) or CvX Productions.
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