Human management of ecological systems, including issues like fisheries, invasive species, and restoration, as well as others, often must be undertaken with limited information. This means that developing general principles and heuristic approaches is important. Here, I focus on one aspect, the importance of an explicit consideration of time, which arises because of the inherent limitations in the response of ecological systems. I focus mainly on simple systems and models, beginning with systems without density dependence, which are therefore linear.