This is something I originally wanted to give its own heading to in the introduction of the book, but in the end wasn’t able to due to space constraints. Here is what I originally planned for the intro, under the same heading as the title of this article:
A core conviction of mine is that one of the key obstacles to getting things done and managing ourselves well is not lack of will, but lack of knowledge.
One of the biggest refrains in the subject of time management is “nobody on their death bed wishes they’d spent more time at the office.” That is true in many ways (though now work happens in many more places than just the office!), but I think that counsel is also lacking something essential that makes it more condemning than empowering.
The problem is that this refrain is rarely followed with advice on how to spend less time “at the office.” In our current era, getting things done is hard. Many people want to spend more time with their families, but don’t know how to do this. It is assumed that just telling someone “spend more time with your family” is enough. But it isn’t. With work coming at us so fast, and with the overload it brings, it is often downright challenging to figure out how to work less. Simply put, maybe that guy who spent “too much time at the office” didn’t really want to do that, but couldn’t figure out how to make things any different.
I think we need to be equipped to give people good advice on how to carry out their priorities, rather than simply telling them if it looks like their priorities are out of sync.
Beyond this, we also need to realize that the world of work has changed. It used to be that there was a rigid distinction between our work lives and personal lives. This is no longer the case. Now that the office always goes with us, everywhere, it’s even harder not to spend “too much time at the office.” Hence, the importance of actually learning how to manage ourselves well is more important than ever.