Time Management Doesn’t Work

My chosen topic this week for ‘Coffee with Colm’ is Time Management; why I believe it doesn’t in fact work, and what we can do instead to plan more effectively.

In my book Feeding Johnny – How to Build a Business Despite the Roadblocks, I think it through in a chapter mini-section entitled Time Management Doesn’t Work.

Below is that snippet from the book for you to consider.

For context: Our first business had failed. Spectacularly.
Our new business Carambola had finally achieved ‘breakthrough’ and we looked like we might just make it.
What follows is one of the many lessons I learned through that difficult period.

This snippet is the account of what happened next.


Time management doesn’t work.

“I knew it!” I hear some of you cry victoriously. Has Colm O’Brien finally vindicated your way of being? Life is just too random to plan anything, so you have always simply chosen not to plan.

Regrettably if that has been your reaction I must burst your bubble. Planning is essential. But trying to manage time itself is impossible. Try stopping all the timepieces in your home or office for fifteen minutes and then restart them. What time is it? It’s fifteen minutes later in reality than your timepieces say it is. So we can’t manage time itself – it just keeps marching on. Time is inexorable.

So if you can’t manage time, then what can you manage? The answer, simple and complex at once, – yourself; you can manage what you choose to do at any and every given moment. That’s it.

The late Stephen R Covey, one of my all time favourite motivational thinkers and trainers, in his book and CD series, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, teaches us Quadrant Two Living and his ‘Big Rocks, Theory’. Within these concepts Stephen teaches us that we must firstly decide what is important in our lives and then prioritize the activities that give us the desired results in these important areas. We schedule (plan) time for these activities first each week often times by sacrificing less important activities. As Stephen suggests, “Organise and execute around priorities.”

Managing priorities works. Trying to manage time doesn’t.

MORE: If you enjoyed that snippet and would like to watch me teach other business lessons in 5-minute videos click here

STAY CONNECTED: If this is your thing, consider joining in the conversation here  

FREE BOOK: If would like a complimentary copy of the book in audio, narrated by yours truly so you get all the nuances, feel free to grab one here

Thanks for thinking with me.

Yours truly,


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One Response to “Time Management Doesn’t Work”
  1. Helena Enright

    I am always saying that I need to work on my time management as sometimes I feel so overwhelmed by the amount of work that i have to complete that I always seem to hovering on the edge between chasing my tail and severe bouts of procrastination. Something though just clicked though when listening to you – I’ve got my priorities all wrong and in hindsight looking back on my more successful weeks it is when I have prioritised what needs to get done life is much easier – thanks for the reminder Colm!!

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