Journey from Time Management to Personal Effectiveness

Personal effectiveness is a more apt description than  time management to describe how we work in available time daily. You need a mindset shift to accept and function this way. It’s a journey that’s  journey, likely a slow one that needs an major attitude change. To be sure, it will be difficult, and success will depend, among other things, on where you are you in life’s journey.

Where are you on this journey? Are you in college looking to be free from exams and papers? Maybe, you are working but craving retirement? Then again, you might be yearning for the day you won’t rush from one assignment to another? I assure you, this utopian dream is unlikely to materialize.

Personal effectiveness improvement is the journey
Personal effectiveness improvement is the journey

The key on this journey from managing time to personal effectiveness improvement isn’t changing locations or occupations. Instead, it’s understanding you can’t manage time, you manage your personal effectiveness in available time. Therefore, you must journey from trying to manage time to improving personal effectiveness in fixed, available time.

Talking with a recent college graduate highlighted people’s desire to move from where they are to their next stop believing they will be less busy, and better able to cope with life’s demands. This student, whom I will call Peter, was devastated after one month in his new job. While at college, he dreamed about how awesome it would be in a full time job—no homework, no papers, no pressure to perform in class. Sadly, he discovered he became even more stressed than at college. Now, he wants to go back to school to do a masters degree.

“Peter.” I said, “doing a masters degree to escape this job won’t fix the problem. You must learn to work effectively where you are (Colossians 3:23-24). Stay in this job and learn some basic skills.” I assured him that changing locations doesn’t solve fundamental challenges of learning to work in available time and with right priorities.

Move From Time Management to Personal Effectiveness

I suggested he reviewed these seven ideas to help him move from the managing time mentality to the practical approach of improving personal effectiveness.

  1. Use the right tools
  2. Schedule time daily for four personal activities
  3. Work with priorities
  4. Be alert to time wasters
  5. Learn when to say yes, and when to say no
  6. Work with To DO Sometime
  7. Schedule My Time

Personal Effectiveness Needs the Right Tools

If you don’t have the right tools you can’t work effectively. A carpenter won’t function well with a mason’s tool and vice versa. A photographer’s tool kit will frustrate a writer. Why then, do you think you will become personally effective without the right tools. How do you identify and manage priorities? Your iPhone or Galaxy’s calendar might not suit your style to plan and carry out daily chores. Have you thought about what might work best for you?

Your first job to improving personal effectiveness is to decide how you will allocate available time—the tool you will use. Many people shun the time-tested, manual Day Timer in favour of electronic agendas; however, that’s precisely what many folks need. Find out what works best for you, and go for it. Bottom line: You need a Day Timer, electronic or manual to help you plan and carry out right priorities.

A To Do list is a list of items you plan to do sometime; it’s helpful to record all items you think about. When its time to do an item, you must slot it in your Day Timer with resources needed.

Personal Effectiveness Means Time for Personal Activities

To Journey from managing time to personal effectiveness improvement, daily in your Day Timer, schedule time for these key items:

  1. Quiet time: Before you launch into your day, spend five to fifteen minutes reflecting on the day. Look at your “To Do Sometime” list to see what needs to be scheduled in your Day Timer. Reflect too, on what you won’t do that day and plan how you will handle people affected by that decision. I read the Bible, pray, and ask the Lord to show me His goals and plan for the day.
  2. Interruptions: Based on the past and where you are today, schedule time for these—folks dropping by, unplanned calls, or other activities. Monitor this allotted time and don’t exceed allotted time.
  3. Exercise: Go for a walk, bike ride, jog, swim; do something; you will feel refreshed and rejuvenated. Several electronic aids exist to remind you to “move.” I try jogging 30-40 minutes six days weekly, plus walking at least 30 minutes daily. I avoid escalators and elevators and maximize using stairs.
  4. Review time: Reflect on your day before going to bed. Look at your Day Timer. What can you learn from what you did and what you did not do?

Work with Priorities

Somehow, everything seems urgent; but we know most things aren’t important. So, to Journey from managing time to personal effectiveness improvement, we need to decide to work with priorities, and learn to sift the important from the urgent.

Be alert to time wasters

Surely you know your time wasters; don’t you? Facebook, Twitter, video games, the internet, and most of all, allowing interruptions beyond your planned level. Therefore, to move from managing time to personal effectiveness improvement, become sensitive and alert to these time wasters.  Then you will be able to develop a plan to avoid them, and to terminate them when they appear.

Learn when to say yes, and when to say no

This is a challenge for many folks; however, practice in front of a mirror. If you don’t know when to say no, you will take on too many assignments. You will become unreliable. You will poor role model. To Journey from managing time to personal effectiveness improvement, pray, ask the Lord to help you in this difficult area.

Work with To Do Sometime

One simple, stress-relieving activity is to transfer stuff from your head to a TO DO Sometime list. This is not your regular, ineffective, stress producing, To Do List. It’s a project list; a list of things you want to do … sometime. To Journey from managing time to personal effectiveness improvement, scrap your TODO list.

A conventional To Do list does not help; projects do not fit in time available in your daily schedule. It’s just a list! Indeed, it causes many folks to worry because they believe it is an action list.

You must accept that it is not a list from which you work daily. When you want to do something, remove it from the list and allocate it in a slot in your Day Timer. But more important, before you start to work on this item, develop a goal—precisely what’s to be done, and a plan—the steps and resources needed to do it. Without a goal and plan, you will be working in the dark.

Schedule My Time

In my book, Managing God’s Time, I defined My Time as “regular, personal non-work time to recharge. During this time I may play golf, listen to music, play music, dance, or do other activities for relaxation.”

The Bible tells us we need a sabbath rest. I know I need this weekly rest. You must set aside time to be refreshed—your mind, body, and soul needs it. Use your weekends to rejuvenate; give your cell phone a quiet time for most of the weekend. Each of us is dispensable. Think about this! You owe it to you and your family to recharge.


Do you want to move from managing time to personal effectiveness improvement? Surely you do. So, change your vocabulary, and you will change your behaviour. That’s my promise to you.

Daily we hear about time management. We talk about it and embrace the idea that we need better time management skills. However, we don’t realize that this mentality merely gives us an excuse to be ineffective. Indeed, it deflects the problem from us to time. And so, we do nothing to learn to be more effective in available time. That’s why it’s essential we accept that we can manage only ourselves, not time.

To be sure, when you realize the only person to blame for your lateness and ineffectiveness is you, your attitude to work, responsibility, and accountability, will change. You can do it, but you need the mindset shift I mentioned earlier.

© 2015 Michel A. Bell

Michel A. Bell

Michel A. Bell is a former senior business executive, author of seven books — including his first children's book published in 2022 — speaker, and adjunct professor of business administration at Briercrest College and Seminary. Michel is a Fellow of the Chartered Certified Accountants (UK), holds a Masters of Science in management degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Doctor of Business Administration honoris causa from Briercrest College and Seminary. He is founder and president of Managing God's Money™ and Stewarding God's Resources.

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