Join Our Effort to Determine Whether “Time Management” Actually Exists or Not

At the start of the new year (2015), I’ll be launching a new InnerLab (the 5th iteration) and this one will be different. We’ll be looking to answer a single question over the next 6 months of its duration: Does Time Management Exist?

The result will be a completed Special Report – one that I have already started researching but had to put aside when the book turned out to require more than just a few months’ effort.

Time cannot be managed by Nightingale

That didn’t stop me from making the statement a major premise of the book, however. The idea that time cannot be managed was articulated by Earl Nightingale, the now-deceased motivational speaker and businessman, perhaps in the 1960’s. More recently, Dutch researcher Dr. Bridgett Claessens made a similar assertion in a book, as I noted on my recent article page entitled Big Ideas! Time Management Does Not Exist.

But now it’s time to go further, and delve into the work of philosophers, theoretical physicists and psychologists to discover the scientific foundation behind the statement, which she (and others) have never provided.

Where I Have Reached

I honestly thought that I’d find a single document I could understand that would address this topic in full. But as I dug, I realized why it doesn’t exist. There are at least three ways of thinking about the problem, which I have summarized as the Philosopher’s Point of View (POV), the Physicists POV and the Psychologists POV. In similar fashion to the way I developed Perfect Time-Based Productivity, we’ll be bringing these POV’s together for the first time in the hope of answering the main question.

Based on my reading, I have developed a working definition of “time.”

Time, like distance, is a man-made concept that we all use to help navigate a complex world. It appears that we created the notion of distance, for example, when we observed that two objects existed separately from each other in space. Distance was used as the way to describe and scale this spatial separation.

Something similar happened when we observed that there was a sequence in time that could not be reversed. For example, you cannot unbreak an egg, which means that scrambled eggs always comes after the egg was broken, which comes sometime after the egg was laid. Time was used as the way to describe this temporal sequencing and separation between events.

Both constructs are essential to function in the world and we learn both of them so early and so quickly that it appears to many as if we never did. They are both language based constructs, it appears, that we learn to manipulate in countless ways to produce desired results.

If time is just a construct used to describe events sequenced, can it be managed? Or is this a misnomer like “The War on Terror?”

To test our hypothesis, we’ll need to formalize it a bit for those who like the next level of rigor (pardon me if this goes a step too far your taste.)

Ho: Time can be managed
H1: Time cannot be managed.

We’ll be gathering evidence from different fields in an attempt to disprove the null hypothesis, Ho.

At first blush, this may all seem quite esoteric, but it has practical implications. It’s possible that millions professionals have been wasting their time chasing after an improvement that’s impossible to make. If that’s so, then this effort would help put a stop to a fruitless quest that has occupied people’s minds for centuries, perhaps even since the first clocks were invented in the Middle Ages.

It reminds me of Native Americans who, when asked who owned their land and how it could be bought, answered:

“My reason teaches me that land cannot be sold. The Great Spirit gave it to his children to live upon. So long as they occupy and cultivate it, they have a right to the soil. Nothing can be sold but such things as can be carried away” –Black Hawk

To some Native Americans, “Land ownership” was an absurd man-made construct simply didn’t make sense. I’d say that, based on my research to date, my own reason teaches me that time cannot be managed, so those of us who share this notion in the next InnerLab will be planting a stake in the ground that says, “No More.”

What does your reason tell you? Let me know, then consider joining me for a 6 month effort where we dive into a question that could change the way human beings think about time management.

FAQ: Is the InnerLab free? Yes. The time commitment will be 1-2 hours per week.

InnerLab from Framework Consulting