My Latest Book

Product Details

Also available on,, and other Amazons and bookshops worldwide! 

To Think About . . .
An economist is someone who sees something happen in practice and wonders if it could work in theory. Ronald Reagan
My Other Books

Product Details

Product Details

Product Details

Product Details

Click to order other recommended books.

Find Us on Facebook Badge

Search This Site
« Read my Blog - without your boss knowing! | Main | Decision Making »

Time management in the 1840s

As those of you who read this blog regularly will know, I am reading Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre at the moment through I was fascinated to come across the following passage:

Eliza still spoke little: she had evidently no time to talk. I never saw a busier person than she seemed to be; yet it was difficult to say what she did: or rather, to discover any result of her diligence. She had an alarm to call her up early. I know not how she occupied herself before breakfast, but after that meal she divided her time into regular portions, and each hour had its allotted task. Three times a day she studied a little book, which I found, on inspection, was a Common Prayer Book. I asked her once what was the great attraction of that volume, and she said, "the Rubric." Three hours she gave to stitching, with gold thread, the border of a square crimson cloth, almost large enough for a carpet. In answer to my inquiries after the use of this article, she informed me it was a covering for the altar of a new church lately erected near Gateshead. Two hours she devoted to her diary; two to working by herself in the kitchen-garden; and one to the regulation of her accounts. She seemed to want no company; no conversation. I believe she was happy in her way: this routine sufficed for her; and nothing annoyed her so much as the occurrence of any incident which forced her to vary its clockwork regularity.

How many lessons about time management can you draw from this passage? Answers in the Comments please!

Reader Comments (5)

She seems not to have been getting her onions, so put all the energy into busyness. Is there a lesson for us in the twenty-first century?
January 9, 2007 at 21:19 | Unregistered CommenterNick
Hi Mark,
enjoyed the book 'Get Everything..' and slowly working through the exercises with limited sucess so far. One aspect of the book is how do you react to fear. I am fearful that my interpretation of the 1840's will be incorrect or that all the points will be missed but hey I have finally decided to take action.
She has her to do lists and has them beautifully scheduled so she knows what she will be doing at any point in time. This gives her a sense of security but no freedom.
However there is no slack in the routine and changes to it lead to annoyance.
Several of the tasks appear to have no defined goal so they will never be complete. Does she even know that the Church will want the alter cover, and will it still be there when it is complete.
What would happen if she decided to undertake a new task? In reality she could probably handle it since making changes to others would make little difference to remaining tasks.
Writing in the diary is great and good way of tracking progress and generating new ideas, but it appears there is no need for any new ideas so why bother.
What is nice is there appears no need to do any prioritisation, so difficult decisions do not need to be made - probably nice for a while but...
I have no idea how old Eliza is or what her life has been like so perhaps this regimented regime is what she needs however it does appear bland and without meaning so how can that lead to happiness.
That all for now.
January 10, 2007 at 18:40 | Unregistered CommenterMonkeyhanger
Hi Mark

She would appear to have several major projects on the go; diluting her priorities and possibly never completing any of them although some could be seen as routine 'to do items'

Surely she is so overcommitted to her routine items that she would not have time to do anything that cropped up on a daily basis?

Also her timings would appear to me,to be too long on any one thing. 3 hours of stitching - I hope her eyesight lasted. I know mine wouldn't.

January 10, 2007 at 22:06 | Unregistered CommenterDebbie
I've been reading an interesting thread elsewhere recently about Buddhism and being 'in the flow'. Her activities and routine may appear futile to us in our goal-oriented culture but perhaps she's just found some of the answers we strive for?
January 11, 2007 at 9:02 | Unregistered CommenterLucy
She eventually becomes a nun, so really she is trying as an individual to create the same kind of institutional framework of hours that a convent has.
May 27, 2009 at 18:30 | Unregistered CommenterJanet

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
All HTML will be escaped. Hyperlinks will be created for URLs automatically.