Is time management possible?

Melissa Martin, Ph.D.

Three long-time friends met for a reunion. In the fullness of time, the conversation steered toward the topic of who was more important. Alas, tempers flared and egos erupted.

“I’m more important!” Future proclaimed. “I show people how they can be. I am made of dreams, wishes, hopes and goals. Without me, there would be no tomorrow.”

“I’m more important!” declared Past. “I show people how they used to be. I am made of a lifetime of memories. Without me, there would be no yesterday.”

“I’m more important!” Present retorted. “I show people how they are. I am made of the here and now. Without me, there would no today.”

Unbeknownst to the trio, Father Time was listening and interjected, “Before conception, a baby has no past. When a person dies, he or she has no earthly future and the spiritual realm is not bound by time. Thus, a person exists only in the present.”

Mother Epoch stated, “There would be no present without the past. And the future represents hope, change and what could be.”

The trio, Past, Present and Future pondered upon the discussion.

Father Time said, “There are three doors labeled past, present and future. Which door would you pick? And you cannot pick yourself.”

Past stated, “Then I would pick the future.”

Present stated, “Then I would pick the past.”

Future stated, “Then I would pick the present.”

“So which is more important if you would all pick differently?” asked Father Time.

Grandfather Wisdom joined the debate. “Ah, but past, present and future are but one entity with three unique gifts to humanity. You cannot have one without the other. People must make peace with the past, live abundantly in the present, while planning for the future.”

“Now we understand,” said the time trio.

Reader, it’s your turn to reflect upon your own past, present and future. Step off the hamster wheel and re-evaluate what time means to you.

According to a 2016 article in Scientific American, “Humans, like creatures ranging from amoebas and bees to mockingbirds and elephants, come with built-in equipment for perceiving some aspects of time, such as the rhythms of night and day, the waxing and waning of the moon, and the turning of the seasons. What separates humans from other animals is that we do not stop at merely sensing time’s passage. We tackle time head-on — or at least we try. We dice it into units, even ones that go beyond what is perceivable, such as milliseconds or that transcend our life span, such as millennia. In short, humans everywhere create and rely on time concepts — ideas about the nature of time that allow us to make plans, follow recipes, share memories and discuss possible futures.”

Time management is a fallacy because we cannot manage time — we can only manage our activities. Therefore, time management is using your ability to plan how to spend the seconds, minutes and hours to accomplish goals. Everyone gets 24 hours per day and 168 hours per week. That’s it. But humans try to cram too many activities into a day or a week or a month or a year and stress can be the result. We schedule a vacation and stuff so many activities into a week that we need a vacation from our vacation. In our efforts to be more efficient, more productive and more industrious, we experience pressure and more pressure.

Tick-tick-tick. Unplug. Breathe. Relax. Work hard, but play hard, too. Tick-tick-tick. Spend time with what you value. Tick-tick-tick.

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”

—Annie Dillard

Melissa Martin, Ph.D.

Melissa Martin, Ph.D., is an author, self-syndicated columnist, educator and therapist. She resides in Scioto County, Ohio. Contact her at

Melissa Martin, Ph.D., is an author, self-syndicated columnist, educator and therapist. She resides in Scioto County, Ohio. Contact her at