The Time Thieves

by Dr. Donald E. Wetmore


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You have 24 hours in every day, seven days a week for a total of 168 hours to accomplish what needs to be done in your life. And every day, eleven time thieves gang up on you and work to take some of that precious time away from productive use. Let me introduce you to this inconsiderate troupe.

  • Poor planning. People don't plan to fail, but a lot of people fail to plan. Without a plan of action set up before your day begins, you are likely to get caught up in "stuff," responding to the loudest voice that gets your time and attention. Will you have been productive for the day? Sure, but not as productive as you might have been.

  • Crisis management. When a deadline sneaks up on you, it robs you of all choice and you are controlled by the clock. Crisis management, for the most part, is poor time management because you're rushed and stressed, letting things slip through the cracks and often having to go back and redo what was not done well in the first place. Most of what puts you into crisis management is within your control, you could have seen it coming.

  • Procrastination. All the planning in the world does not substitute for the doing. Many find that they just can't get going on the things that will make a big difference in their success. They have "permanent potential." First thing in your day, get going on the most difficult tasks and get them out of the way.

  • Interruptions. Unanticipated events coming your way, in person or electronically, can steal your time away. Many interruptions are necessary and part of what you get paid for. However, most are unnecessary thieves of your time. Be less willing to automatically give away your time just because they demand it. Rather, determine whether or not they deserve it.

  • Not delegating. "If you want a job done well, you better do it yourself." What a thief! Look at everything you have to do and ask, "Is this the best use of my time?" If it is, do it. If not, delegate it. There's a world of difference between "I do it" and "It gets done." Leverage your time through others and don't allow the things that can be delegated to steal your time.

  • Unnecessary meetings. If two or more people get together and nothing productive comes of the time spent together, that meeting was unnecessary and, sadly, most meetings are time thieves. Before meeting ask, "Is it really necessary?" If it is, then meet but take action as a result of the meeting and not let it be a time bandit.

  • The "shuffling blues." Many people manage their time through piles. Piles appear on their desk. Piles of "to be read" emails on their computer and lots of "to be heard" voicemails stored away. The piles require frequent review creating the shuffling blues, which surrenders valuable time. Keep a clean work environment. When encountering something new, schedule it to your day planner under the day you plan to tackle it and then put it away so you are out of the shuffling blues.

  • Poor physical setup. Not having the things you need the most often within arm's reach and having a lot of the things you rarely need close by causes you to waste a lot of time wearing out the carpet retrieving what you frequently need. And of course, as you pass others, they will often pull you aside to steal some of your time. Have the most needed stuff near by, within arm's reach and save that stolen time.

  • Poor networking. Quality relationships with others can be a huge time saver as they open doors for you with all kinds of opportunities. Failing to develop a good network base will cause you to waste time creating what you might have had through your network. Be a good networker. Help them whenever possible. You want a friend? You have to be a friend.

  • Bad attitude. Nothing sinks a day more effectively than having a poor attitude. It causes you to dwell on the problems and not the solutions and makes it possible to throw the day away. When you are burdening others with your problems and complaints you are stealing your time and theirs. And the truth is that when you complain to others, 85% of them really don't care and the other 15% are actually glad it's happening to you.

  • Negative people. Some people are the life of the party and some people are the death of the party. The problem with having negative people around you is you wind up spending a lot of your time listening to their complaints rather than focusing on your success.

Arrest each of these time thieves. Sentence them to solitary confinement and reclaim your productive time. You deserve it.


Want help eliminating the time thieves from your day? You can easily get more of the important things done, in less time, with less stress. Invite Don to conduct his dynamic Time Management Seminar at your location, from one hour up to three full days, for groups of any size. For details, email your request now for "in house" to ctsem@msn.com

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