Sunday, September 13, 2009

Don't Manage Your Time - Manage Your Life

by John Maxwell

Early in my leadership year, I realized that my ability to maximize my time would be essential to my productivity and my effectiveness as a leader. As Peter Drucker said, “nothing else distinguished effectiveness executives as much as their tender loving care of time.”

Because I knew I needed to improve in this area, I attended a time-management seminar. I learned many valuable lessons that day. One of the things that struck me and that has stuck with me for more that thirty years was the analogy the presenter used to describe time. He said that our days are like identical suitcases. Even though they are all the same size, some people are able to pack more into them than others. The reason? They know what to pack. We spent most of that day learning about what to pack in the time allotted to us.


I left that seminar with two impression: first, time is an equal-opportunity employer; everybody gets twenty-four hours a day—no more, no less—but not everybody gets the same return on their twenty-four hours. Second, there really is no such thing as “time management.” The term is an oxymoron. Time cannot be managed. It cannot be controlled in any way. It marches on no matter what you do, the way the meter in a taxi keeps running, whether you are moving forward or standing still. Everyone gets the same number of hours and minutes every day. Nobody—no matter how shrewd—can save minutes from one day to spend on another. No scientist—no matter how smart—is capable of creating new minutes. Even with all his wealth, someone like Bill Gates can’t buy additional hours for his day. And even though people talk about trying to “find time,” they need to quit looking. There isn’t any extra lying around. Twenty-four hours is the best any of us is going to get.

You can’t manage your time. So what can you do? Manage yourself! Nothing separates successful people from unsuccessful people more than how they use their time. Successful people understand that time is the most precious commodity on earth, they know where their time goes. They continually analyze how they are using their time and ask themselves the question, “Am I getting the best use out of my time?”

Even though most people would acknowledge that time is finite, I think the majority of them don’t really understand its value. In his book What to Do Between Birth and Death: The Art of Growing Up, Charles Spezzano writes, “You don’t really pay for things with money, you pay for them with time. In five years, I’ll have put enough away to buy that vacation house we want. Then I’ll slow down. That means the house will cost you five years—one-twelfth of your adult life. Translate the dollar value of the house, car, or anything else into time, and then see if it’s still worth it.”

(John C. Maxwell, Leadership Gold, pp. 114- - 115)

"So be careful how you live. Not as fools, but as those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity for doing good in these evil days.”
~ Ephesians 5: 15-16

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