Harvey Mackay Academy's Blog

Why is it that the people who make the worst use of their time are the same ones who complain that there is never enough time?

The late management guru Peter Drucker, often called “the father of modern management,” said, “Time is the scarcest resource and unless it is managed nothing else can be managed.”

He added:  “Everything requires time.  It is the only truly universal condition.  All work takes place in time and uses up time.  Yet most people take for granted this unique, irreplaceable and necessary resource.”

I agree with author and salesman Percy Whiting who said:  “Time is a fixed income, and as with any income, the real problem facing us is how to work successfully with our daily allotment.  Plan each day down to the moment because once time is wasted, you can never get it back.”

I’m a big believer in preparation to save time.  Whether I was selling for our envelope manufacturing company or meeting a colleague for a volunteer project, I made sure the people I was calling on were available.  Otherwise, it’s a waste of time for both parties. 

You don’t ever want to be like the salesman who was having the biggest sales day of his life in a little clothing store.  The more he talked, the more they ordered, much more than was normal for a store its size.  He left thinking he was a superstar until he phoned in his order.

When the sales manager heard the name of the client, he burst into laughter.  The boss asked, “Did you check the credit book?”

The salesman’s bubble burst.  No wonder they had been eager to order from him.  His “great” customer never paid his bills.  It was a wasted day and a costly lesson.

Time is precious, which is why February is Time Management Month.  Spend it wisely and stop wasting time on unimportant things. 

As my friend Jim Rohn said, “Days are expensive.  When you spend a day, you have one less day to spend.  Make sure you spend each one wisely.”

If you feel like you are always trying to beat the clock, it’s time to evaluate where your time actually goes.  We like to think we are experts at multi-tasking, but that generally means diverting attention from one project to another.  When you are juggling several projects, organization is critical.  Trust me, unless you have your ducks in a row, you will soon be drowning in inefficiency.

Here’s what I recommend:  Start with a priority list and establish what needs to be accomplished before you can turn your attention elsewhere.  Plan your day/week/month according to how much time you need to allot to each item.  I also schedule a slot for other distractions, phone calls, emails and such.  Sometimes it’s just 15 minutes, but that allows me to stay focused on the big items.

Do your research so you are prepared to see the project through – How much help will you need?  What resources are available or necessary?  What can you delegate?  What deadlines do you need to meet?  If it’s a solo job, set aside specific times devoted to this effort.

Just remember:  Time is the one resource that you cannot buy or replace.  It’s yours to use however you choose.  Choose well.

This silly story illustrates why we need to make every minute count.

One morning a lazy man asked the king, “Why does everyone say that I can’t do anything on time?”

The king answered, Let’s make a deal.  Before sunset, you come to my treasury and collect as much gold and pearls as you can.  They will all be yours.

The man rushed home to his wife.  He explained everything and his wife said, “Go and get the gold and gems now.  Time is gold for you.”

The lazy man sat down and said, “I can’t go now.  Give me lunch first.”

After having lunch, he decided to take a short nap, but instead slept for two hours.  Then, late in the afternoon, he picked a few bags and went towards the king’s treasury.  On the way, he felt hot.  So, he sat down under a tree to rest and ended up sleeping for another five hours.  When he finally reached the palace, it was already sunset, and the palace gates had been shut.  He lost the golden chance to get rich just because he didn’t know the value of time.

Mackay’s Moral:  You are the only one who can waste your time.

About the Author

Seven-time, New York Times best-selling author of "Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive," with two books among the top 15 inspirational business books of all time, according to the New York Times. He is one of America’s most popular and entertaining business speakers, and currently serves as Chairman at the MackayMitchell Envelope Company, one of the nation’s major envelope manufacturers, producing 25 million envelopes a day.