The 445-Day Year – A True Time Management Tale

Day in and day out our time management skills are tested to the max.  As the end of the month or quarter approaches, how often do you wish you could add more days to the calendar?

But wait, that’s exactly what Julius Caesar did in 46 BC.

Over time, the Roman calendar year consisting of 355 days – a lunar-based system – had gotten so out of synch with nature that a three-month discrepancy existed between the seasons and their calendar dates. Autumn came in the month called July and winter in September. Put another way, Romans were celebrating the calendar feast of the harvest before the crops were even in.

As newly declared dictator, Caesar did just that: he decreed immediate calendar reform, extending ultimus annus confusionis – “the last year of confusion” – by 90 days. Thus, the year we know as 46 BC lasted a total of 445 days. In essence, he added a fifth “quarter” to that year to correct the accumulated timekeeping error.

Not surprisingly, Romans complained bitterly about Caesar’s radical change, calling the transition the “year of confusion.”

Henceforth, the Julian Calendar consisted of 12 months of 31 and 30 days, except for February, which had only 29 days. Every fourth year, it had 30 days.

While Caesar didn’t completely reconcile the calendar with the solar year, weaning Romans from their lunar model of timekeeping was real progress.

What lessons can be learned from Caesar’s bold corrective action?

1. When your operations are underperforming or ineffective, avoiding the issue is likely to compound the problem.

2. Seek expert advice, even if this means turning to outsiders. (In this case, Caesar relied on Greek astronomers.)

3. Even when the problem is obvious to all, don’t assume that people will automatically embrace the solution if it disrupts the status quo.

4. The positive benefits of transformational change may only become evident over – you guessed it – time!

Tempori parendum. (“One must keep abreast of the times.”)

Copyright © Susan Battley, PsyD, PhD. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Susan Battley

An advisor to Fortune 100 executives and world-class institutions for more than twenty years, Dr. Susan Battley is an internationally recognized expert on CEO and leadership effectiveness. Her clients include Fortune 500 companies, professional service firms, and elite research institutions. She has worked with chief executives, university presidents, Nobel laureates, and prominent scientists, diplomats, and educators. A respected media source for analyzing leadership in the context of news-breaking events and key trends, Battley has been featured in outlets worldwide including CNN, CNBC, Fox, Bloomberg, and National Public Radio, and in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Chief Executive, Business Week, United Press International, Harvard Management Update, Entrepreneur, Science, Leader to Leader, Investments, and Worth. She is the founder and CEO of Battley Performance Consulting, a leadership strategy and organization effectiveness consultancy.