Space-time Management: What the Heck Is That?

Leonard Bernstein said, “To achieve great things, two things are needed; a plan, and not quite enough time.

Michael J. Motta
5 min readMar 19, 2018
Don’t engage in “kitchen table productivity.” When you need to get stuff done, consider your surroundings. Go somewhere quiet. Go somewhere where you are less likely to be interrupted. A plan and time is not enough.

But that’s only 2/3rd of the equation. You need a plan, time… and space.

Huh? Why?

Because even with a meticulous plan and solid block of time, you need space to implement the plan and spend the time. If that space is no good — if, say, your daughter keeps throwing her shoe at you (true story) — then the meticulousness of the plan and the solid block of time mean little.

So, instead of thinking in terms of time management, think in terms of space-time.


You plan to write your paper from 6–7 AM every day. That’s great. It’s pareto. If you stay committed, you’ll finish the paper. But that’s purely temporal thinking and is suboptimal. If you take it a step further and also think spatially, your paper will be finished sooner and it will be better.

Productivity “space” breaks down into two components: inner and outer.

“Inner” and “Outer” Space

Inner space is, well, inside you: your level of energy, amount of focus, and reserves of grit.



Michael J. Motta

Asst. Professor of Politics. Writes here about productivity, learning, journaling, life. Author of Long Term Person, Short Term World.