How to Organize your Time

“You don’t always get equal pay or equal treatment, but time comes to us all in equal amounts.” Those are the words of Charles E. Hummel, the late author and historian whose classic essay, Tyranny of the Urgent, has spawned the multi-billion dollar self-organization industry.

Hummel wrote his essay almost fifty years ago. Since then, contemporary authors have been making big bucks from reworking material from Hummel’s writings for their books about “how to get organized,” “how to organize your time,” and “getting things done,” among others.

Hummel’s philosophy about how to get things done is easily understood:  “Everyone has all the time there is—twenty-four hours a day. It’s the choice we make about how to use that time.” So the secret is to get organized in the time we have.

Hummel advises you to make the hours count for what you think is important today, this week, or this month. To paraphrase an example given by the author—make-believe you’re clutching a fistful of cash that’s the exact amount you need to purchase a frying pan. You wouldn’t waste that money by grabbing point of purchase items on the way to the checkout counter. That’s because you wouldn’t be able to pay for the cooking utensil you came for and would wind up in the frying pan yourself. “So why not be equally artful with your time,” asks Hummel?

Your response might be that there are never enough hours during the day to get all your stuff done. Hummel answers your objection by stating even if you had more time to do things, you’d still be as frustrated as you are today because of Parkinson’s principle—“work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”

The dilemma is much more than a shortage of time. “It is basically a problem of priorities,” says Hummel, whose first principle for how to organize your time is to decide what’s important.

Hummel’s suggestions for deciding what’s important, along with my coaching on how to implement his advice, will be covered in the next post Your Career Service. Stay tuned.

I’ve devoted an entire chapter, “Tips on Organizing your Job Hunt,” in my book, Your One-Minute Job Finding Coach.

Copyright ©2015 by Ransom (Randy) Place

About the Author

RANDY PLACE IS A JOB-FINDING and executive coach, writer on career topics, broadcaster, and host of For twenty-three years, he helped thousands of employees who had been let go from JPMorgan Chase find jobs. And he coached executives at CBS Television, Pitney Bowes, and major outplacement firms in New York on job-finding techniques, communications skills, and selling strategies. An accomplished seminar leader and speaker, Randy has designed and presented workshops on interviewing, telephoning techniques, job-search writing, and sales training nationwide. Randy's groundbreaking nationally syndicated radio series, Your Career Service, has been heard on over two hundred radio stations across the United States. And his articles on career topics have appeared in the Wall Street Journal's National Business Employment Weekly. A former broadcast journalist in New York, he has also been a commercial spokesperson for an array of national and regional advertisers. In addition, Randy was a sales executive at NBC Radio and the New York City sales manager for syndication at Wolper Productions. He holds a Bachelor's in Sociology and Broadcasting from Syracuse University, and a Master's in Journalism from New York University.