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A Personal Time Choice

Aug 17, 2007
Our personal experiences with time often force us to draw sets of conclusions which seem to contradict each other. They set up a paradox in which it is difficult to see how both conclusions can be true. Yet, on closer examination, the conclusions often are both correct. For example, no one has enough time, yet everyone has all there is.

Often, one of the statements in a paradox is based on conventional wisdom, while the other statement challenges that wisdom by pointing out a deeper truth. No one has enough time is the conventional observation, while Everyone has all there is points out a deeper truth. Understanding this paradox is an important first step in the challenge of learning to manage our time and ourselves.

Take a moment and consider the following paradoxes of time and explain the effect each one has on your life.

1. Time cannot be managed. We can only manage ourselves. Is time the problem, or are we?

2. Those who do not take the time to do something right must make the time to do it over. Should we do it right the first time?

3. Doing a job right is efficient. Doing the right job right is effective. If a task is the wrong one, it does not matter whether it is done right or wrong. If it is the right task, it matters a great deal.

4. The more hours that people work, the more time they assume they have to finish. The more hours people work, the more fatigued they become - so they slow down. Long hours feed on themselves, making everything take longer.

It has been established that controlling our lives means controlling our time, and that controlling our time means controlling the events in our lives. Why, then, do most of us have so much trouble accomplishing the things that mean the most to us in the long term? Why do we never seem to get around to those things that really matter? There are several possible answers. One is that we have unwittingly bought into two fallacies about time that prevent us from dealing effectively with the events in our lives.

The first fallacy is that we think we are going to have more time at some unspecified future date than we do now. Well, I will do that next week, or next month, or next year, or when the children are grown, or when I retire. Then I will have more time. The second fallacy is that we think we can somehow save time. The fact is, each of us have all the time there is. We all are given exactly 24 hours every day - 86,400 seconds each day. No more, no less, and none of us can save any of them to use at a later date.

Each of us has exactly as much time as the most successful people in the world. If we want to achieve the same high levels of success as these winners, we must treat our own time as a precious resource to invest for maximum return.

Time is valuable capital. If we squander it, we will not develop our abilities, take advantage of opportunities, or carry out our commitments. What is more, we certainly will not make the most of our life. An astonishing number of people, who carefully manage all of their other resources, are frustrated because time continues to slip through their fingers. What is really slipping away are their lives.

What each of us chooses to do with our time makes our life. When we make the commitment to choose what we do with our time, we take control of our life. Effective people do not just do things differently - they do different things! Their actions reflect a fundamental shift in thinking - that sometimes doing less result in more of the right things getting done. They deliberately manage their choices! As Stephen Covey has so eloquently said:

"Rather than focusing on things and time,
focus on preserving and enhancing relationships
and on accomplishing results."
About the Author
Pj Germain
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