The Myth of Time Management (and the secret weapon of enthusiasm)

The Myth of Time Management (and the secret weapon of enthusiasm)

A lot of people claim the key to getting things done is managing your time. And I agree.

But that’s a really short-sighted approach. What if you want to do more than just get things done?

If you want to have impact and do Great Work, then you need to move beyond just “getting things done.”

So, instead of just managing your time, I think the highest leverage thing you can do is manage your intention. What are you focused on right now?

Are you enthusiastic or lackluster?

You can do something to get things done. Or you can do something because it furthers a bigger vision. When you keep your vision in mind, you have context. You’re focused on the reason why you’re doing it in the first place.

Just getting things done is a meaningless pursuit. After all, there will always be more things to “get done” (you only stop getting things done when you’re dead). But, when you’re fueled by a purpose that stays in the forefront of your consciousness (like a mental tattoo), that’s when your actions move into another plane of impact.

You create change, and stop just checking things off a list.

You build a legacy, and stop getting sucked into the minutiae.

You have a sense of meaning, rather than a disjointed series of tasks.

So, my challenge to you is this: Today, instead of focusing on your list, focus on your intention, purpose and reason why. Then sit back and see what happens.

I think you’ll be blown away.

photo courtesy of uggboy

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43 Comments on "The Myth of Time Management (and the secret weapon of enthusiasm)"

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AndyFossett
Guest

Yes.

I’ve thought at various points that I had a time management problem, but what it always came down to was a mission problem. Of course I procrastinated on things that didn’t feel vital to my mission. Anything that doesn’t serve the greater goal is just going to leave me tired – this I’ve found to be true again and again.

And yeah, sometimes it’s absolutely necessary to deal with shit that isn’t fun or exciting, but they’re still a lot easier to do if you can convince yourself that they matter.

Thanks for the reminder.

Execumama
Guest

I dig this! That shift has meant so much for me, my vision, and what I’m doing with my life. The best part is that my daughters get to learn early in life that being fulfilled beats being “productive” any day, any time! Thanks for the reminder!

emeri1md
Guest

“Today, instead of focus on your list, focus on your intention, purpose and reason why. Then sit back and see what happens.”

The only issue with this is that you need to know what your intention/purpose/reason why even is. I’ve spent a great many hours thinking about this and, at the ripe old age of 31, I still don’t know.

MilkThePigeon
Guest

Solid post. The whole idea of intention has really gotten into my brain recently. I like the idea of having the intention clear and seeing where things go. However, I wonder if you combined the two strategies – tradition time management (e.g. setting a time limit, having a clear goal) with your strategy, and if things would be more efficient? Any thoughts?

sgm3444
Guest

A great post and a solid reminder to remain focussed and thing long term

jens
Guest

Hi Jonathan,

That’s interesting. Getting things done is important, but what’s more important is what are you getting done. I know a lot of people who’ve been focusing on the wrong things (at least according to me). They get a lot done, but they’re always thinking in a short term perspective. What you say about vision is important.

I find it really hard to focus on the great intentions, but I always use parts of my day to think about a long term goal and what I can do to accomplish it.

Great post.

Jens

meganever
Guest

Great post, Jonathan! Thanks for the reminder – Megan

meganever
Guest

You’re on the right track if you’re really searching for it — To really find it you have to get out there and roll up your sleeves on whatever seems best at the moment — which will tell you “warmer, colder, really cold, really hot” — You’ll save yourself YEARS of wondering and thinking. @emeri1md

laurenp
Guest

Great post. It’s all about awareness of our goals and then reaching them step by step. I love your mention of intention…we all get caught up in the little things in life which are very easy to do…and then lose our way. – Lauren – PersonalEmpowermentInc.com

ethanwaldman
Guest

I like this. I think when you take the mentaility that you are managing your intention vs. time you quickly realize that being busy all the time isn’t the goal. Sometimes you can have a huge amount of impact in a half hour. Sometimes it takes 10 hours. Either way, it’s satisfying and fulfilling.

harleyroxanne
Guest

I’ve been finding recently that I’ve sort of ‘trained’ my brain to stay busy all the time, so much so that sometimes it’s hard to remember what is really important and what isn’t.

An excellent reminder to step back and clear the fog to see what really matters. :-)

harleyroxanne
Guest

@meganever@emeri1md I agree. Reminds me of Martha Becks’s “Shackles on” versus “Shackles off” approach. If it feels shackles on, it’s not right. If it feels shackles off, it’s more in the right direction.

JonathanMead
Guest

@harleyroxanne That’s an easy habit to get into. Action is awesome, but we should always regularly step back and assess the direction.

By the way, your new site looks awesome!

JonathanMead
Guest

@meganever Thanks for stopping by Megan. :)

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[…] next blog is Illuminated Mind by Jonathan Mead, “The Myth of Time Management (and the secret weapon of enthusiasm).”  In his post he talks about how your focus and intent are more important than just “getting things […]

Nikoya
Guest

Yes. This could have not been said in another way. Intentions & purpose is everything, and when you concentrate on both magic happens. You get more done by doing the things that serve the “why”.

Thanks for the reminder!

kristastryker
Guest
Thanks for the push Jonathan. I was feeling a bit down today… due to some crazy circumstances, I haven’t done all the great work I wanted to do this year yet. And it’s already August! But like you said, it’s the intention that counts. And I have the intention and the motivation to do lots of Great Work. I know I want what I do to have meaning and to make an impact. And I’m confident that my work can be great if I just continue to push myself and focus on the bigger picture. So, even though I have… Read more »
JanetBrent
Guest

Great stuff Jonathan. Intention is truly powerful! Thanks for the reminder.. I know I need to work more with intention and align myself to my intention. Without it, I don’t have an anchor and I am prone to procrastinate..

PJProductivity
Guest

Yeah, you absolutely need both intention + time/action skills. (BTW, I hate that term “time management” – you’re not managing time, you’re managing your ACTIONS.) Great post. :)

henley.chiu
Guest

Have you read David Allen’s(I think that’s his name) GTD stuff? He says there are 5 different planes for looking at your goals. At 50,000 feet you’re asking: How does this related to my life purpose? Which is what you’re talking about here. However, to reach those goals, you often have to ask questions at 10,000 feet too which involves asking: how to break those goals into subgoals and tasks, daily habits, winnable games, and small victories? So there is merit in having both a higher level focus, and also on getting things done.

RitaGrohowski
Guest

Have you read David Allen’s(I think that’s his name) GTD stuff? He says there are 5 different planes for looking at your goals. At 50,000 feet you’re asking: How does this related to my life purpose? Which is what you’re talking about here. However, to reach those goals, you often have to ask questions at 10,000 feet too which involves asking: how to break those goals into subgoals and tasks, daily habits, winnable games, and small victories? So there is merit in having both a higher level focus, and also on getting things done.

laurenp
Guest

I so agree with you! The concept of managing actions to reach your goals is excellent! We all have the same amount of time in a day…our awareness of the way we use this time to accomplish what is important to us is the answer! @PJProductivity

SusanaFrioni
Guest

Thanks for this reminder!! My yoga practise is all about the intention. And your post just reminded me the value of intention with my ‘to do list’. Love love love your website!! xx

lalithambalvijayakumar
Guest
lalithambalvijayakumar

Nice and motivation blog. thanks for sharing

ammaslight
Guest

YES… that is such a crucial key. To-do’s are so heavy and “should-laden”. Adding big-picture intention and purpose can be like rocket fuel for action…. thanks Johnathan

LesleyRiley
Guest

Thanks for this post, Jonathan. I am constantly checking things off my to-do list and feel like I am never getting anywhere. It’s an aimless feeling because I feel like I’ve really gotten nothing done at the end of the day. I know on the days I do take focused action and make major headway on my purpose that I am exhilarated. But it’s always happenstance, rarely planned.

Now I will always remember take action that serves my purpose, not clears my in-box or to-do list.

livelovework
Guest

Great article! I wrote something very similar a few months ago, and I’m pleased to see this idea, this passion in the world around me. What matters is not how much I do, but what I do. I choose to live my life focusing on my intention to live my best life every day.

http://www.liveandlovework.com/2011/06/28/an-argument-against-time-management/

MaryFaulkner
Guest

I love this post and I have been following some of my passion today and passing on information that helps some people that got in touch with me. And I have a road trip coming up to new town I have never been to for possible job that might be fabulous. thanks for the inspiration.

TechnicLee
Guest

I disagree. The post seems to suggest that the choices are either getting things done (GTD) or doing something meaningful. GTD is agnostic about what you’re doing. It is simply a process for moving forward. What you move forward on is outside of the scope of GTD and totally up to you.

handsonbrand
Guest

@TechnicLee The idea I got from this post was more of the motivation behind actions; are you doing things just to tick them off your to do list or because it furthers your intention in life/business/etc? I did’t get the impression that he was specifically talking about the GTD movement, just productivity in general.

WoWyourlife
Guest

This is a great post. The deeper thinking gives more meaning to your list and helps you prioritize better!

geraldine
Guest

My take: Manage your enthusiasm and be enthusiastic about time management.

EnrichingLife
Guest

Great post. I believe without enthusiasm and motivation you are very likely to just “kill” time instead of managing it.

careercreatrix
Guest

Where did you get that picture?! :)

spiritsentient
Guest

Amen to that Jon :)

Reminds me of Anthony Robbins “The Why Guy.”

Know your … why.

Focus on your … outcome.

Do what … matters.

Preach on, visionary :)

Andi Roo
Guest

So true! I always get more accomplished when I’m focused on the “why” instead of the “what”. Remembering the BIG picture is hard for me, but I it sure does keep the puzzle pieces fitted together properly when I take a good hard look. Thanks for the reminder!

kaizenjournaling
Guest

This is so true, and I’ve already noticed the difference since I started working on Trailblazer. It doesn’t matter that I don’t “have” time. I make time, because I’m driven by my purpose. Insanity, people call it. But they don’t feel the fire inside. 

james
Guest

great article. i whole heartedly agree, except for one thing. “getting things done” is great if your priorities are right & you get done what you want to do.

R. Silver
Guest

Of course, this never works for mundane tasks at school we are forced to do. I can’t say I’m disappointed, just that this doesn’t apply to students.

C. Monroy
Guest

It makes total sense. Every day you’ve got to have goals to attain in order for you to be able to say that you’ve been productive. Just getting things done isn’t a goal, it’s even a lousy plan.
For me, maybe before making a list of things to do, you have to identify first what your goal is. Even if your goal is as simple as just staying away from those things that waste our time at work. The important thing is, at the end of the day, you could totally say you’ve accomplished it.

Andrew
Guest

Thanks for the post Jonathan!

Woke by accident at 4am and got straight to work coding my current project, was just fading but now after reflection over coffee and a shower – power on!

Carla Frett
Guest

Different people have different approach for time tracking and management. Some do it manually with a pen and paper, some with spreadsheets, some use onpremise tools, but the most advanced version of time tracking tools is what I mean to be the best option in managing the time and keeping track of it.

click here
Guest

I just signed up for the blog. I am really looking forward to learning more. My question is how can one drop out and quit one’s corporate job when dealing with a chronic illness? I need my health insurance. That is my single biggest fear about moving down the path to “dropping out”.

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