Allergic to Spreadsheets

Q. Do I have to do time management the way you say in The Lifelong Activist? I’m allergic to spreadsheets!

A. In The Lifelong Activist I offer a strategy for managing one’s time that involves (1) coming up with a short list of professional and personal priorities, based on your Mission, and allotting a set number of hours each week to each; then, (2) creating a weekly schedule that incorporates all of those priorities; and (3) working to stick to the schedule while at the same time tracking your time so that at the end of the week you can see how well you did.

I explicitly say that the system isn’t for everyone, and that if it isn’t for you, you should keep searching for one that’s better. However, most effective time management systems do ask you to budget and track your time, the way most money management systems ask you to budget and track your money, and most diets ask you to budget and track your calories. There’s simply no other way for most of us to control our use of a finite resource.

Whether you use spreadsheets, a notepad, a whiteboard, or some other thing for your time management is immaterial, however. The important thing is that you do some form of time management.

I do think some people get stuck at the time management section of The Lifelong Activist not because time management is so hard, but because it holds you accountable. Knowing precisely how well or badly you’re using your time is knowledge a lot of us, including myself, at times find painful. It’s important, however, to work through the pain or fear and proceed.

If you absolutely cannot or do not want to do time management right now, then skip that section of the book and proceed to Part III, Fear Management. The topic is, frankly, more interesting and there’s no quantification there.

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