Conventional Time Management Wisdom? Think Again
Beth Beutler is the founder and executive director of HOPE Unlimited.

In the past, I have taught a class on Effective Time Management, where students sit for a day or two to just focus on this concept. There are also many books and blog postings about time management out there, many of which have similar “conventional wisdom” concepts worked into them. Yet, with deeper thought, I wonder if some of these concepts are more myth and less wisdom. (I say this even after having written a book myself on time management!) Let’s take a look at three.

Myth 1: Checking your Email first thing in the morning is a “no-no.”

If I followed that advice every morning I could miss out on changes to meetings or appointments that could occur throughout the evening and night. For example, in the past, I wouldn’t have had the time to make changes to my schedule after a couple of emails were exchanged regarding the possibility of a different place for a lunch gathering after I had already called it a night. By seeing that email early in the morning, I was able to adjust my schedule for the day more easily and I made it to the right location! I do understand that email can distract us, and we shouldn’t be addicted to it. However, a quick glance in the morning may not hurt, to see what, if anything, may change the course of your plans for the day. 

Myth 2: Only Check Email at Times You Designate During the Day

I’ve found that for certain types of positions such as administrative assistants and office managers, email is a major source of the day’s work. Due to the simplicity of quick email responses, I never related to the idea of batching emails at certain times of the day. For the most part, I’ve been able to monitor email as it comes in, respond if necessary, or move it into a task list, and continue with what I need to accomplish at the time. But I certainly understand that for those in other industries, it may be wise to batch their responding times.  My point is that the assumption that batching is the best option for everyone is just too general.

With a deeper thought, I wonder if some of these concepts are more myth and less wisdom.


Myth 3: Use your Calendar to Make Appointments for Projects and Tasks

I fell into this habit maybe a bit too hard originally. In fact, friends used to good-naturedly joke with me when they learned I would schedule out mundane things. After some time, I learned that most of my days did not follow the steps that I would create in my calendar. After realizing that it wasn’t really doing what I intended, I started to save my calendar for set appointments (sometimes referred to as “hard lines.”) For the smaller things that weren’t set in any real order I would let my task list guide me, sometimes using a pad or whiteboard to map out an approach for that particular segment of time, without changing it on the calendar itself. It was much simpler not having to change my calendar constantly.

So, what do you as a reader think? Do you agree with these? Are there other time management ideas you’ve read in the past that you feel don’t really fit into your lifestyle or that you would benefit from? What myth will you dismiss from your routine today?

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