Time Power – Insight on Time Management

I’ve referred to Time Power as where I got my start in learning about time management.  Several members over at the facebook group – PLAN to Enjoy Life – Functional Planner group – have asked about this since it is somewhat of an “older” approach to time management.   I’m somewhat of an older type fellow.  I thought I would share what I know about it.

time power cover

Time Power was a workshop that Charles R. Hobbs developed for training with Daytimer organizers back in the early 1980’s.  The first iteration of this workshop was called Insight on Time Management.  I received my first exposure to it in the summer of 1982 at a workshop for Colorado Future Farmers of America officers held at Northeastern Junior College.  While it wasn’t Dr. Hobbs who gave the workshop, the consultant showed us how to use a Pocket Daytimer and gave us just a bit about priority and values based planning.   

I immediately became a fan of the Daytimer and carried one through my year as a state FFA officer and through my 4 years of college while I earned my Bachelor of Science degree.   After graduation it took a few months to get a real job, but when I started with the Colorado Farm Bureau in 1988 I purchased a desk size Daytimer and an 8 cassette tape series of Dr. Hobbs conducting a 2 day Time Power workshop.  

I think I wore that cassette series out listening to it on the road.   I later found the book Time Power and read it from cover to cover many times.  (You can still find copies of this book in excellent shape from a variety of used booksellers for low prices and perhaps even from the Big A).  A couple of years passed and my boss at the time got into the Franklin planner and so they started paying for my refills.  We had a consultant come in and give a several hour workshop on how to use the Franklin planner using Hyrum Smith’s methods and I was surprised that their method and illustrations were almost identical to Time Power.  

Later when I read Smith’s 10 Natural Laws it was clear that many of the stories were exactly the same as Hobbs.  Smith did give much credit to Hobbs for his work. It was really not surprising as I expect that many of the illustrations and stories were passed along through LDS business leaders and church members.  Covey fits right in there as well.

Enough back story.  Dr. Hobbs uses the concept of “Concentration of Power” to help achieve your highest priorities.  His definition of time management is the act of controlling events and further expands on how that happens. He starts with Unifying Principles (which were explained in my previous post) and then works through continuity of goal planning with long term and intermediate life goals and professional goals.   

Long term goals are defined as the first set of goals written for as far out as you do the planning.   They could be 6 months, 1 year or out as far as 20 years or longer if that is as far out as you plan. Intermediate goals arise as those steps you need to take in order to reach those long term goals.   Immediate daily actions develop from the long range and intermediate goals and are written and prioritized in the daily action list. He then goes on to explore a system of managing those goals and daily actions using a Daytimer, 2 page per day.  

The layout of the particular Daytimer was the Junior Desk Reference Edition.  When I first saw the Franklin Classic page layout I thought is a blatant rip-off of the Daytimer.

daytimer photo

The left hand page is for planning and has a daily task list, appointments and expense tracker.   The right hand page is for the record of events. If you’ve followed Smith’s methods for notations, planning, etc, you’ve done the Time Power system.

Hobbs (1998) offered 7 questions for developing your list of tasks throughout the day, and just like Franklin Covey does now, Daytimer had a pre-printed set of pages for your planner to keep right in there.  Here are the 7 questions:

  1. Of my long range & intermediate high priority goals, which should I work on today?
  2. What projects, if left undone, represent the greatest threat to my survival?
  3. What projects does the “boss” consider most vital?
  4. What projects will give the highest return for the time invested?
  5. Which items on my previous daily action lists and grass catcher lists should I work on today?
  6. What do my unifying principles suggest?
  7. What has not been considered that will help yield long term significant results?

He then suggests the following questions be used to prioritize that list into A – Vital, B-Some Importance, C-Limited Importance and D – Waste of Time:

  1. Which of the items I have listed will be help to achieve my long range and intermediate goals?
  2. What will yield the greatest long term results?
  3. What will give the highest payoff?
  4. What will happen if I don’t do each of these projects today? Whom will it affect? Will anyone suffer?
  5. On a long term basis, which items will make me feel best if I accomplish them?

Hobbs explains that we tend to spend most of our time on actions that typically are C or D priorities but have a tremendous sense of urgency.  His system (and the ones that followed) encourages identifying higher priorities and actually procrastinating those low priority trivialities.  He says that urgency is what moves us to action and the purpose of the system is place a sense of urgency on the vitals and remove the sense of urgency from the trivial.

I can’t say that I disagree with him.  Of course, having used the system for for 37 years might have clouded my thinking.  I can say that taking those huge long term goals and putting them into smaller and more detailed chunks is the same way that I try to teach students complex procedures.  Take it a piece at a time or a step at a time until you get it all put together.

I’ve not studied Hyrum Smith’s 10 Natural Laws to the same depth that I have Time Power.   It seems to me that at least from what I’ve seen, the methods are very similar with just a little difference in terminology.     

Now, when I actually get to doing this right, I’ll hang out my shingle as an antiquated productivity expert.  Until then I’ll just keep writing things discreetly in my planner and hope I can keep on top of my own life.


Hobbs, C. R. (1988). Time power. New York: Harper & Brothers.

Smith, H. W. (2003). The 10 natural laws of successful time and life management: Proven strategies for increased productivity and inner peace. London: Nicholas Brealey Pub.

3 thoughts on “Time Power – Insight on Time Management

  1. Pingback: Focusing on What’s Most Important | paperinkplan

  2. Pingback: Why I use a 2 page per day planner | paperinkplan

  3. Pingback: Daily Planning + Video | paperinkplan

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