"I don't have enough time!"
"Where did the time go?"
"There just aren't enough hours in a day to do what
I have to do!"
Really? Are there really not enough hours in a day to do
what you have to do?
H. Jackson Brown said, "Don't say you don't have
enough time. You have exactly the same number of
hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur,
Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci,
Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein."
We can - and should strive to - make of our time what
they made of theirs. And while we may argue that they
lived in a simpler time (there's that word again!),
we live in an era that affords us countless ways
to save time (computers, automobiles, and microwave
ovens, to name just a few), thus balancing the
equation. So why do we so often find ourselves
complaining about the supposed scarcity of this
We do so because most of us don't manage time well.
Instead we mismanage it.
I must admit - I am as guilty as the next person in
griping about the apparent paucity of time. In fact, as
I'm writing this, I keep looking over at the clock -
which seems to be ticking much too fast - as I have
set a goal of finishing this by midnight (it's precisely
10:39 now). In fact, there are some concrete steps
we can take to manage time. In my case, I've taken
a page (literally) from Steven Covey's The Seven Habits of
Highly Effective People (from Habit #3, pages
146-182). In this landmark work, Covey encourages us
to "put first things first" - in other words, prioritize -
and to think hard about whether some of the tasks we
spend time on are really as urgent and important as we
make them out to be. I've then incorporated his
lessons into my work week, continuously re-evaluating
whether what I'm doing at a given moment is really
contributing to my goals.
Yes, initially it was difficult. I had to think
about what I was doing, and why. Now, it's second
nature. And it's a great feeling to know that I'm using
my work time in the most efficient way possible. This,
in turn, lets me enjoy more leisure time. Before, I'd find
myself wasting time on low-value activities like cruising
the web and checking e-mail every time I heard that
annoying "ding" (which grabbed my attention like a
dog's owner yanking his leash would). Now, I
close it when I'm working on something that
requires my complete focus, and re-open it only when
done. And why not? I can't remember when I ever got
an email that was so urgent I just had to read it right
then and there!
Time is a sales person's most precious asset. For
time very much is money. What you choose to do with
the time you have, how efficiently you choose to use
that time, and what you choose not to do all
impact whether you accomplish the things you need to
in order to achieve the success you want. And the
best part is - it's all under your control!
If you don't already own it, buy Covey's book (no, I
receive no compensation for making this
recommendation!). Go someplace other than where you
usually go for work - a place where you can think, free
of interruptions. Spend an hour or so thinking about
ways you can better prioritize and use your time. Write
it down. What will you change? What will you eliminate?
What can you do later, rather than now? And what will
you eliminate altogether? If you are a manager,
examine how your people are using their time. Are there
suggestions you can make that will help them use it
more efficiently? Can you remove low-value, high-time-
consuming tasks from their daily routine, and reallocate
them (or eliminate them completely)? Giving your team
back time they're stealing from themselves is one of
the best contributions you can give to them (after
training, of course!). So go to it - now.
But first - close that e-mail, please!