Self-regulating reconfigurable soft matter systems are of great interest for creating adaptive and active material properties. Such complex functionalities emerge from non-linear and interactive behavior in space and time as demonstrated by a plethora of dynamic, self-organizing biological structures (e.g., the cytoskeleton). In man-made self-assemblies, patterning of the spatial domain has advanced to creating hierarchical structures via precise molecular programming. However, orchestration of the time domain of self-assemblies is still in its infancy and lacks universal design principles. In this Emerging Area article we outline major strategies for programming the time domain of self-assemblies following the concepts of regulatory reaction networks, energy dissipation and kinetic control. Such concepts operate outside thermodynamic equilibrium and pave the way for temporally patterned, dynamic, and autonomously acting functional materials.