I’ve consulted in project management for a long while now, and I’m acutely aware that project management has a cost. It has a value as well, but there is a premium that needs to be paid to manage work as a project. There is work that has nothing to do with producing the results of the project, and has everything to do with managing the project; this takes time, requires effort and costs money.
Apart from being a consultant, however, I can also be considered a participant, recipient or victim (depending upon your perspective) of numerous time management programs. I also arguably still struggle with the whole concept of time management. I’ve acquired binders, bought software and have submitted to many different strategies to better manage my time.
Admittedly, part of this goal is to try to get more (much, much more) done in a shorter space of time, and many of my time management problems could be solved by simply setting my sights lower. Given that doesn’t seem to actually be an option in my psychological make-up, figuring out the whole time management conundrum seems to be a necessity.
What came to me in a flash of insight (if I can call it that) is that time management is work, too. In other words, you need to make time for it. You need to set aside the time to actually plan, and get organized, and to figure out what you are going to do. Time management isn’t free. It might save effort and frustration, but the attainment of this requires up front effort.
The one thing I find particularly interesting about this is that, in any book, course or seminar that I’ve attended, no one has explicitly said this. No one has suggested that I’ll need to set aside an hour or more at least once a week to clear my inbox, collect my thoughts and organize my time. The assumption has always been that if you adopt this strategy then time management will become as easy as falling off the back of a truck. It isn’t. And falling off trucks hurts.
Investing time on a regular basis in getting organized hurts too, but in the grand scheme of things it hurts much less. And there is a seeming benefit in the long term.