Effective Time Management

From Tao’s Perspective


The meaning of Effective time management, from the Tao’s perspective, may be quite different from the views that you are more familiar with. It, however, directs your attention to the fundamentals, and makes you more effective in the long run.

In a way, if you can apply Tao to your personal time management, it can help you to achieve more by doing less. In other words, for the same amount of time, you are likely to exert less, but not less effective. This has to do with the Tao's definition of time management, which places much emphasis on the importance of timing, in addition to time.

While it will take a whole book to explain what Tao effective time management means, let me just highlight a few Tao time management techniques that you may work on immediately. They are:

1. Find your center. Do not be mindlessly bus.
2. Find the order in things you do.
3. Identify the right timing, and do it.


Find the centre of life. Do not be mindlessly busy

time management and tao

Feeling busy is flattery, but not necessarily effective.

“The Sage works on the belly not the sight,” says Lao Tzu.

Focus not on looking good. Focus on effective time management. Growing an orange tree faster than usual is meaningless, if it does not bear fruits.

Find the center of everything you do. This prevents you from being mindlessly busy. In this aspect, understanding the relationship between ‘being’ and ‘non-being’ is useful.

What is ‘being’ and ‘non-being’?Look at a drinking cup. The cup, which has body and handle, is a being. It is however, meaningless without its non-being. Let me explain why.

The cup is meant to hold water. You cannot drink from a cup that does not hold water.

But where do you find the water in the cup? It is in the space within the cup. The space in the cup is nonbeing.

In this case, the nonbeing is the very purpose of a cup's existence. It is the center of the cup’s life.

Relate this to whatever you do.

What you do is being. You could be a salesperson, a scientist, or a lawyer. To find the centre of your life, you’ll however have to look beyond the being.

If you are a salesperson, the center of your life may not be selling itself, it could be the satisfaction that you bring to your customers. When you are giving a sales presentation, the presentation is the being. The usefulness of the presentation, however, is not the being, but the nonbeing, which could be getting to know your customer, or paving the way for the final sales contract.

Similarly, when you are doing a school project, the center is not the report of the project – or being. It is the learning experience that you obtain through putting the report together. This process is nonbeing, but it is the center of the project.

Bear in mind the relationship between being and nonbeing in whatever you do, and you will have little difficulty finding the center of the things you do. If you know what the bigger purposes are, chances are that you will not be mindlessly busy. This essential to effective time management.

To read more about ‘being’ and ‘non-being’ of Tao, click here.

Find the order in the things you do

Look out for the order in things you do.

If you are a salesperson trying to win a customer, calling the customer for an appointment could well be the last, rather than the first, thing you do.

Understand the laws of nature in selling.

Be very honest with yourself, why should a customer see you? Is there a compelling reason for him to do so? If there is, make the compelling reason a reality, and the customer may take the initiative to call you.

Reflect on questions like this daily. They will help you in effective time management. Click here to read about techniques for reflection in Tao.

The laws of nature will help you to become more effective.


Identify the right timing, and do it!

right timing

Set the stage for action. Note however that timing can be equally, if not more important, than time!

Timing is in t he order of things.

If the timing is right, you get things done. If it is not, it does not matter how much more time and efforts you put in. It won’t work.

Good timing is essential to effective time management.

Like what Chuang Tzu says, there's no point lighting the candle when the sun is out; or water the plants immediately after a rainfall.

To identify the right timing, bear in mind the following:

1. Things are easier to manage at the beginning, before the die is cast. Nip the problem in the bud.

2. Do not clutter. Simplify everything you do. Click here to read more about simplicity.

3. Be patient. Look out for order in things. You cannot build the third storey of a building, before the first and second.

4. Trust the process. Do not intervene prematurely. Click here to read about wuwei or non-doing.

If the timing is right, do it. Today's the day!

Like Laozi says, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." You simply have to take the first step, even for the journey of thousand miles.

Effective time management begins from taking a series of first steps, day after day.

Click here to read more about Tao Basics, which would help you to understand effective time management from the Tao’s perspective.

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