People often use time management tactics to counteract impulses such as the desire to avoid unpleasant tasks or the need to feel busy, Howard Jacobson writes. People who don't understand these impulses or who are willing to confront them will almost always fail at time management. "Trying to build new habits on top of dysfunctional old ones works about as well as putting a new car body on top of a rusty old engine," Jacobson writes.

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