“Time rules over us without mercy, not caring if we’re healthy or ill, hungry or drunk, Russian, American, or Beings from Mars. It’s like a fire. It can destroy us or it can keep us warm.  That’s why every FedEx office has a clock, because we live or die by the clock. We never turn our backs on it. And, we never, ever allow ourselves the SIN of LOSING TRACK OF TIME!”

– Chuck Nolan (Tom Hanks / Cast Away)


More than any other aspect of life, time is the one thing that we have in common. We all possess it in equal amounts and have equal opportunity to manage that which we have. We can do nothing to lose it. Likewise, we are powerless to acquire more of it.

Time passes at the same, measured tempo for each individual. Although it may seem like it, it does not drag along at a snail’s pace on some days, nor fly past us on others. Time is incapable of slowing down to annoy us when we are waiting for something to transpire. Neither does it hold the power to accelerate its rhythm when we are running behind in an maniacal attempt to maximize our anxiety. Time simply plods along relentlessly, undeterred by anything that happens, unfazed by any emotion that we may be experiencing.

Time is not subject to the laws of reallocation in the same way that other commodities such as money. It’s emotionless, inattentive, and cold. It is far and away the most dependable and predictable facet of our daily lives. Time is always where it should be, when it should be… never a second before, never a moment after. Albert Einstein once said,

       “The only reason for time

is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.”

But, sometimes it does feel as if everything’s happening all at once and we find ourselves snared in Bob Seger’s melodic dilemma: facing “deadlines and commitments,” frantically trying to decide “what to leave in and what to leave out.” Being pulled in twenty different directions all at once can multiply stress to the point where strangling the nearest exposed neck sounds strangely productive.

Knowing that time is an overbearing, obstinate, uncaring, callous taskmaster, how do we manage it? Managing time certainly is a challenge, one that requires personal effort and commitment. Making the best use of time doesn’t happen on accident. You have to make it happen daily by design. And, here’s the key… you are the only one who has that power.

In many cases, we create our own stumbling blocks. Not only have we created them, but we allow our fundamental activities to feed the beasts on a daily basis. These are habits that need to change because their primary dividend is that they deter your productivity, keeping you hopelessly trapped in Mummy-Mode (All wrapped up and pressed for time).

– Six Places to Start –

Put Things in Their Place

An American Demographic Society study suggested that Americans waste more than 9 million hours each day looking for lost and misplaced articles. REALLY??? Things can always be found in the last place that you look for them. If the important things have an equally important place, they’ll be easy to find when their importance becomes important.


Keep Simple Things Simple

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time a new assignment comes your way. If there’s an easy way to do something, it’s not always lazy to do it that way. Sometimes, it’s just smart. Keep in mind, there is a reason that the well-worn path is well-worn. It may be common knowledge that it’s the most direct pathway to where you want to go. Don’t fight it.

Sort the Demands

Not everything is important or urgent. In fact, most things aren’t either of the two. Prioritize and insure your ability to address those things that do fall into one of those categories while time is on your side. Procrastination can be a useful tool. Put off the things that come between you and the things that carry the highest priority. Schedule a specific time slot in your day for such things. Set aside a time when you can stop everything else for a few minutes and address the non-urgent issues. It may surprise you how quickly you can scratch each of them of the list.

Delegate the Workload

While you’re busy separating critical from less significant, pass some of the responsibility on to those who can be trusted with it. Some things require your attention and skill set; some things do not. You’ll be able to focus on “your things” with a greater degree of concentration, if you assign some of the smaller tasks to someone who’s capable.


Eliminate Time Wasters

If you feel like you’re chasing yourself in circles, stop for a moment to evaluate things. Often when we find ourselves having to repeat a task, the root issue tracks back to either not being properly prepared before we started or leaving the task incomplete and having it “fall through the cracks”. The Five P’s – Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance – have been posterized for a reason (Sixth “P” optional). If you’re going to give your time to a task, do the task as it should be done. Complete it correctly and move along.

Side Note: If you work with a “Chatty-Cathy” type, introduce him or her to another “Chatty-Cathy” and let them talk each other out of a job. You’ve got stuff to do and they suck the life out of your day anyway.


Schedule Time to Reorganize Your Day

Those “To Do” lists can be helpful, but only if you revisit them from time to time. If you do this at the beginning, in the middle, and at the end of your day, I guarantee you that you’ll get more done. Highlight the important things; assess the amount of time they need. Then, carve out the time to get hands-on with the task before it becomes a critical, high-pressured, rush job. This approach will become surprisingly addictive and helpful. Don’t forget to “sort the demands” and make sure you’re working on the things that are worthy your attention.

“Until you value yourself, you won’t value your time.

Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it.”

                                                                    – M. Scott Peck

Managing your time is really all about personal evaluation. That you only have so much time to do things is a given. You don’t need a research study to support that reality. The question becomes one of determining what is and what is not worthy of the time that you have available. If that sounds self-serving, then you’re finally catching on.

A new entry in the Way Back When’s Day blog category posts each Wednesday morning.
Each entry is a refreshed blog posting from Way Back When.

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