Here is a new study claiming that time management is deeply tied to happiness and personal well-being. To wit:
Despite narratives that suggest time management is primarily a work or career-based skill, the strongest link was between good time management and wellbeing: the effect of time management on life satisfaction was 72% stronger than on job satisfaction. Time management also reduced feelings of distress.
I actually wrote an article back on July 1, 2016 called “The Time Management Era Is Upon Us.” At that time, I had been predominantly freelance and work-from-home for about seven months, maybe eight. While I’ve had some problems with day drinking as a result of my relative schedule freedom, it’s also helped keep my head above general happiness water for many years. When I’ve had contracts that demand I go into an office and sit there even if there’s really nothing to do, I tend to be miserable. So, this study makes a lot of sense.
We know from research that humans generally want autonomy from work, which is the paradoxical reason that employee engagement scores — however flawed they are as a concept — actually went up during the pandemic. Why? While working at home was a complete bitch for many, and some homes/apartments are small, and we very much had a “she-cession,” the sheer fact remains that a lot of humans had control over their day-to-day schedules, and could grocery shop in a 90-minute window without video calls on a Wednesday, which is easier than grocery-shopping on Sunday morning. The autonomy was the benefit; autonomy and time management are close cousins.
Now, of course, we come to two core problems. The first one is that employers generally don’t want to provide autonomy, even though doing so makes a lot of sense. Employers would typically focus more on automation in the context of “A”-words, and in reality much of work (and most of management) is about control, which is sad because we know that command-and-control managerial approaches tend to kill people (legitimately).
That’s Issue 1.
Issue 2 is that often, time management is a form of privilege. If you have a bigger home and you have people that do certain things for you — assistants, nannies, accountants, etc. — you can thus “manage your time” better, largely because those other people are taking your time and managing aspects of it for you, so the pie you need to manage is less. To wit: I know a lot of women who adore and worship Sheryl Sandberg. I know probably just as many women who will say “Well, it’s easier to lean in when you have a 20-person staff helping with day-to-day and kids.” Indeed. A single mom in Topeka can “lean in” to an extent, but to the same extent as a Silicon Valley titan? No.
I just know I’ve spent a chunk of the last 7–8 years doing what I want, which has been good and bad for me in terms of health sometimes, but mostly good in terms of happiness. Movie at 1:45pm on a Thursday? If the deliverables are hit, why not? So if you can learn to manage time better, or find ways to grow there, do it.