Good time management is closely linked to goal planning, but they are not the same. Time management is a tool used to implement the steps needed to reach a goal, but it is not part of the goal achievement. By examining the differences, we can gain clarity on both time management and goal planning.

Purpose of Activity

Time management is about organizing your activity to achieve a purpose. The purpose of time management is to utilize your time (and energy) to get the most done; time management is used to maximize your efficiency. It does not define the purpose of your activity, however.

The steps of a plan to reach a goal are based upon the goal, not the principles of organization. The plan is geared towards making a change, towards moving from where you are to where you want to be. A step of the plan is judged not by the productivity of that action but by the results of the action; does the action move me towards my goal or not?

Two processes

Goal planning can be done many different ways. You can work backwards, starting with the goal and determining what must be done to reach that goal, and then determining what be done to reach those requirements, and so on. You can divide and conquer, where you take the goal, divide it into parts, and then implement each of those parts. You can use trial and error, where you look at your current situation, find something you can do, and see if you move towards your goal. You can use other techniques as well. The key is that regardless of your approach, your actions are part of a larger effort, to reach the goal.

Time management starts with the current list of activities and creates a plan of action to implement those activities. You can approach your tasks as a list of actions, or as tasks to put into a daily schedule, or even as the needs to be met by a week’s plan. The key is each activity is looked at individually, and the only larger purpose you consider is the overall use of your time. Whereas goal planning is naturally focused on the future (reaching the goal), time management is naturally focused on the present and near future (how can I be more efficient with these tasks).

Different values

Time management is not intrinsically valuable. Simply organizing your activity, managing your actions, does not add any value to the activities and actions. Time management is geared towards making you a more valuable and effective person, but not the actions themselves.

The actions you take to reach a goal have their own value, regardless of whether the goal is reached. Each step towards a goal is a step forward. You become more valuable not by becoming more effective and productive but by becoming a better person. The value of the actions of a plan to reach a goal is determined by the value of the goal, not by the value of your productivity.

So time management and the plan to reach a goal are not the same. However, time management is a powerful tool to help you accomplish the steps needed to reach a goal. Using good time management can move you dramatically towards your goal.

Author's Bio: 

John Steely has been teaching mathematics, study skills, and habits of success for over 25 years. You can access a number of free resources he has found and made at Steely Services