What’s the Job of Time Management?

For the past few days, I have been mulling over an interesting article from the December 2008 Harvard Business Review called Reinventing Your Business Model, by Johnson, Christensen and Kagermann.

I found it fascinating because it led me down a path of rethinking the way I am thining about ways that 2Time is being offered to the public.

Specifically, it caused me to ask some fundamental questions about what “job” people are trying to do with their time management systems.  The definition of the word “job” is quite specific in the article — “a fundamental problem in a given situation that needs a solution.”

The article also mentions the four most common barriers that keep people from getting particular jobs done: insufficient wealth, access, skill or time.

I have thought about it a little and have come up with the following answers to the question: “What fundamental problem are people trying to solve with the time management systems that they use?”

Answer 1:   Not Feeling Bad

No-one likes to feel the sting of their inner critic – that little voice inside that points out what they are not doing right.  This voice tells them that they are lazy, or that they are a procrastinator, or flaky, or forgetful or failing to get on top of things. It might also conclude that they are overwhelmed. They try their best to avoid these feelings by using strategies that make them feel productive.

Answer 2:  Feeling Good

For many, getting to the end of the day knowing that they got a LOT done is a wonderful feeling to have.   If they have a sense that they were focused, productive and energetic, then that counts as a tremendous positive that boosts feelings of confidence, and personal power.

Answer 3:  Taking Care of Myself

Exercise is constantly touted as the best medicine there is, and its presence has been linked to a prevention of diseases of all kinds.  Yet, some 77% of adults report that they would exercise more if they could fit it into their daily routine.

Many, whose time management systems don’t work for them, end up not exercising as much as they’d like.

Answer 4:  I Am Getting Better

I think there are a few people who just like the idea of making progress from year to year.  They want to know that they are using better techniques now than they were using a year ago, and that they are simply not stagnating with old tools and stale techniques.

I believe that this is what leads people to purchase iPods and Blackberries when they are interested in using them to become more productive.


These four items are not presented in any particular order, and represent my thinking about what problem people are trying to solve when they consciously think about using time management techniques, tools or tips.

If you have some thoughts on this, I’d appreciate hearing them. Simply leave a comment below.