Why Managing Time Sometimes Fails?

By Pierre Ah-Fat

‘If you control your time, you control your life’ Alan Laiken (1973)

‘Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.’
(Mother Teresa)

‘You will never find time for anything. If you want time, you must make it.’ (Charles Buxton)

Have you ever heard people say:

• ‘I never have enough time to finish all that I want.’ or:
• ‘If only there were more than 24 hours in a day’ ?

People are always complaining that there is not enough time to complete all that they want to do. How then do we solve this problem of lack of time? What can be done to overcome this feeling of incompleteness and frustration? If only we could increase the number of hours in a day!

There are only 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week. 52 weeks in a year. If we cannot increase the number of hours in a day, at least we can maximise the use of available time without having to disrupt the balance of our life.

24 hours in a day. By the way, have you noticed that 3 times 8 equal 24? We are told that we need 8 hours sleep. We work for 8 hours. What do we do with the remaining 8 hours?


We have seen that if we want to master our life, we have to control our time. We have to develop the ‘ability to decide what is important in life..., to prioritise certain jobs so that we complete the tasks we need to and also those that we think are really important.’ (Jones Katie, Time Management, 1998:8).

Proper management of time implies also a well balanced life, with proper allocation of time to each type of activity. The wheel of life allocates time equally to our main activities in life related to:

- Health
- Wealth
- Family and friends
- Playtime or fun, hobbies
- Relationship
- Career or job,
- Personal space
- Contribution/Spirituality.


We can derive numerous benefits from proper time management, like:

• Having a sense of direction.
• Prioritisation: most important versus urgent. Urgent tasks are not always the most important.
• Less stress: when most important things are planned we do everything in time without stress.
• Sense of achievement, resulting in increased self-esteem and self-motivation.
• More job satisfaction.
• Better results.
• More efficiency and reliability.
• More free time for family, hobbies, going out, sports, socialising.
• Balanced life.
• Improved leadership.
• Better monitoring.
• Better plan to re-energise.
• Ability to face unexpected events (contingency plan).
• Greater motivation, proportionate rewards.
• Team spirit.
• Learn/Do more in less time.


Many of us are discouraged, frustrated or just abandon managing time. Why? Here are a few of the reasons which explain that despite our efforts to manage time we do not always get the expected results:

• As we hasten to waste time, we are also in a hurry to save time. The more we hurry, the more stressed and we spend more time to do something.
• We do not always start by observing our activities for one or two weeks and watching the emerging pattern and our rhythm. For example: Are we more productive in the morning, in the afternoon or evening?
• We are not enjoying the activity we are doing.
• Whims and fancies or external circumstances.
• Not trained to focus on one activity at a time until completion.
• Not enough practice – for example, a new behaviour has to take its time to become a habit.
• Deadlines are often unrealistic and not feasible.
• Over-scheduling: too many tasks and sub-tasks. 'A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush'.
• Too perfectionist and too much in detail.
• Too rigid: human nature needs some flexibility.
• Practice interchanging or trading flexible time. If an unexpected important visitor comes at an unexpected time reserved for study purposes, the same duration of time set aside for say recreation can be traded off for study.
1. Pretexts such as temperament or character.
2. Imposing limits on our own minds. ‘I am too old to do this.' 'I cannot change my habit now.' I do not have the resources to do that.' 'I am afraid to explore new things.' ‘I don’t like meting new persons.’
3. Inability to say ‘no’ especially to time wasters and peer pressure.
4. Threatened by others, we think we should do the entire job ourselves. We do not delegate.
5. Procrastination or over-decisiveness. Delaying tactics before starting work.
6. Bad communication.
7. Place of study/work is not conducive and tidy. Lack of proper light and ventilation.
8. We do not put things or study materials back in their respective place after use resulting in losing time searching for them when needed.
9. We wrongly believe we are sacrificing our most cherished freedom when we have to work.
• Do not review our life regularly to know where we stand, where we are going and how we are doing.
• Goals do not always follow the S.M.A.R.T. model, i.e. they are not:


It is better to write down in simple words the specific thing we want to achieve.'I want to succeed' is too vague. Be precise. 'This year we target a profit of $ 1m' says the Marketing Manager. ‘By end 2015, I get my degree in Electronics.'


Quantify, easy to measure and broken down. ‘I want to lose 10 kilos in 3 months’.


Do you have the resources to make your goal happen? Do you have financial resources to study for that degree or diploma?


Be realistic and flexible enough in relation to other priorities you have. Plans are made for human beings, not the reverse. Getting your degree in three months is not realistic.

Time bound

Fixing of a reasonable deadline puts responsibility on ourselves to accomplish the task in a given time. Compare with the vague ' I would like to be wealthy one day' or 'I want to become a professional manager'. When? If you do not know, you'll keep on waiting indefinitely for it to happen. That is why there are people who keep on dreaming and expecting without seeing the result.


Putting first things first also involves overcoming our fears. We have seen how crucial it is to know how to avoid obstacles to the proper management of our time. After that, we shall be better equipped to start looking into how we are going to manage our time.

‘Never waste a minute thinking about people you don't like.’ (Dwight D. Eisenhower)

‘The best things are never arrived at in haste. God is in no hurry; His plans are never rushed.’ (Michael Phillips)

‘The timeless in you is aware of life's timelessness. And knows that yesterday is but today's memory and tomorrow is today's dream.’ (Khalil Gibran, The Prophet)

Pierre Ah-Fat, MBA
Transformation Coach

Author's Bio: 

Pierre Ah-Fat assists persons tap their inner resources to transform stumbling blocks into stepping stones thus enabling them to move forward to become the best they can be. The journey of transformation focuses on self-knowledge, the unleashing of natural talents and strengths, motivation, communication skills, managerial competencies, goal setting, career choices and transitions, the development of creative and innovative strategies to face new challenges, change management,continuous learning by fun.