Micro vs. Macro Time Management

Following is an excerpt from the book that explains what “The 7 Maxims of Time Management” webinar is all about:

Micro vs. Macro Time Management
by Bill Wilson, author of the forthcoming book The 7 Maxims of Time Management and presenter of our January 18 webinar on the same topic

“Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things.”  – Bill Redden


While there are university curriculums devoted to financial management, there are few, if any, devoted to time management, a commodity much more precious than money and perhaps less understood. Although we’re taught how to budget our finances, balance our checkbooks, and invest our savings, we’re rarely taught how to budget our priorities, balance our lives, or productively “save” and invest our most limited asset…time.


Too often there is a presumption that time management simply means identifying time wasters and eliminating them. There is no question that this can and should be done, but it should never be the primary focus of any time management program. What good does it do to “save” time without a plan of how to use that time?


College economics courses usually distinguish between micro economics and macro economics. I make the same distinction for time management. As the quotation above implies, micro time management focuses on doing things right¾having proper policies, procedures, and structures, including identifying and eliminating time wasters. Macro time management, on the other hand, focuses on the big picture like mission statements, values, objectives and goals, and the integration and management of activities that contribute to accomplishing the higher purpose. Both are important but, to paraphrase, “efficiency without effectiveness is like straightening deck chairs on the Titanic.”


The January 2018 NSIPA webinar “The 7 Maxims of Time Management” focuses on what I refer to as macro time management, but there are facets and elements that incorporate micro time management practices that we will examine where appropriate. However, if you’re looking for tips on running meetings or handling email, this isn’t the webinar for you…there is plenty of information on this in other books and online. In fact, here is a link to a seminar manual I published some time ago where I examine “in the trenches” time management issues just like this:


Successful Personal Management


So, to make sure I distinguish between micro and macro time management….


Micro time management

Micro time management is about the tactical uses of time, from running meetings to saving 5 minutes a day in the bathroom (the average American spends 7 years of his or her life in the bathroom). It’s about limiting interruptions, managing email, waiting for people or information, using cell phones, internet surfing, and so forth.


The focus of micro time management is on efficiency, not effectiveness. I read once, perhaps in a Harvard Business Review article, that 80% of time in meetings is wasted. If that’s the case, then of course you want to run meetings more efficiently. However, the same article alleged that 88% of meetings were unnecessary. If that’s true, then the focus shouldn’t be on “doing things right” but rather on “doing the right things,” in this case whether a meeting really needs to be held or perhaps whether all attendees really need to be there. Focus first on effectiveness, then on efficiency.


Macro time management

Macro time management is about the strategic uses of time, about doing the right things. The focus is on effectiveness, not efficiency.


Both micro and macro time management principles and practices have their purpose and value, but effectiveness comes first, then efficiency. Micro time management CAN save you time, BUT it doesn’t tell you how to invest that time. This webinar focuses on minimizing the minutia and maximizing the mission.


But, again, that being said, we will address some critical micro issues in this webinar, especially in Maxims 2 and 6.


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