In France and Germany, people say, “I don’t have time”. In England, they tend to say, “I’m too busy”. A subtle difference. It would be interesting to learn what they say in Brazil. Or, perhaps, they don’t say anything like that at all. Curiously, the English approach to time doesn’t allow for the many ways this word can be used. So, here goes.

I find myself in a somewhat different situation. During the next five weeks, my wife, Mary, will be on an extended business trip, jetting around in warm climates. The change is welcome because, for the duration, the household will be calmer and quieter. When she sets up these trips, it is extremely intense and incredibly time-consuming. When she is not at home, I completely change my routine and probably gain an extra 2 – 3 hours of time a day. I could have the time of my life.

Could! But there are forces at play which might prevent me from having a good time.

There are already various to-do lists appearing in strategic corners of our house. Most of them are centred around this thing called Christmas. I don’t know, but have you heard of it? I am not quite sure what it is myself. But people keep telling me it always surprises them. Somehow they get themselves organised in the nick of time. Mary returns at 7 pm on December 23. But, so time efficient are the German railways, they have already informed her that her train will be about 15 minutes late.

We fly to England on December 28. It means this thing called Christmas will be history. It is only a matter of time. But I have noted in my timer, that it is our wedding anniversary that day.

But let’s explore this one step at a time. How could one optimise such a vast amount of resources? Should they be managed, spent wisely, or even squandered?

Could I possibly buy time if I actually did some of the things that need doing? It is, after all, high time that I clear out the garage and take stuff to the rubbish dump. Time and priorities are the best bedfellows. It is such a love-hate relationship. Anyway, whose priorities are more important?

Then, so they say, time is money. Ah, I am a little pressed for time on this front because the Brida Project needs to develop further. So, I could, for the time being, dedicate all my resources to that. But, by the time I have finished, well, it will be this Christmas thing. And my wife’s priorities! Maybe this Christmas thing is really about priorities. I will leave it to your imagination as to the consequences if I get these priorities mixed up.

You see, dear reader, there is actually a serious problem here. I have time, albeit for a few weeks. But, then I could be busy. But no, not really. In management circles, they ask if it is busyness or business. Should I feel guilty about taking my time to think about this?

That brings me to another idea. There are two schools of thought here. Time management, or task management.

For example.

Please don’t tell him this, but Ismar sent me a request on Saturday, or was it Sunday? I can’t remember. Time is such a blur. Anyway, he is in a different time zone. He asked me to look at something if I had the time because he knows (does he?) I am a busy person (am I?). Perhaps, time is an illusion. It doesn’t really exist. But his concrete request is interesting, so I will make time (which doesn’t exist) to fulfil his request. It will make him happy. But don’t tell him that. Because, for the next five weeks, I won’t be that busy.

Ding ding, end of round one. Task management wins.
Because, if time is an illusion, how can I manage it? Or is it managing an expectation?

So, dear reader, as you might suspect, we need to talk. It is a time-old problem, this discussion. Except, the older we get, the quicker time passes. So, I am running out of time to learn about this.

What are your thoughts about time, priorities, and all that seems to go with it? How do you solve this conundrum? What timely advice can you give? Do we create a process, like Igor might suggest? Do we automate everything like the Germans love doing? Sebastian represents the entire German male population here. Or, do we envy Ismar because, as he is retired, he has a 7-day weekend?

Actually, according to she who must be obeyed (a.k.a. my wife (Igor, you have been warned!)), the only person qualified to talk about this is Julia. Mary says, if you want to have anything done, then ask a busy woman. Julia has an engineering background (processes), is German (automation, and she represents the whole German female population) AND is an expert because she is studying psychology. She has exams in December. She is a busy woman. Perfect!

Time will tell.

It’s high time to stop this article, but I will bide my time until we meet on Tuesday. If you have the time and the inclination. You know which time we meet.

In the meantime, take some time out to chill a little, dream a little, dance a little, and relax a little. Time is only relative.