A Question of Time

Now that the dark days of winter are in the rear-view mirror and selling season is here, are you finding it tough to accomplish all your tasks in any given day? It’s funny, but with daylight savings time upon us, it seems that time is shorter!

We’ve certainly been talking a lot about managing our time better around the office. But it’s more than seasonal; REALTOR® Magazine is not alone in terms of companies that have had to “do more with less” over the past few years. And it’s no secret that piling more work on less people means that some items just don’t come in on time.

So, when the Time Management edition of the Brian Tracy Success Library showed up at the office, I was interested. Of course, it didn’t hurt that the slim volume clocks in at 99 pages. “I actually have time to read this!” I thought to myself.

Tracy starts out with an audacious idea that I had a hard time accepting. He says that even if you’re not good at managing your time, you should tell yourself that you are. I mean, I get the whole, “change your mindset” thing, but come on. If I walked into a meeting fifteen minutes late saying, “I am well organized and highly productive,” my colleagues would be right to laugh. Also, could this approach lead to a lack of accountability? After all, if I’m constantly telling myself that I am indeed a “highly organized and productive person” as Tracy would have me do, wouldn’t it be tempting to blame some other entity for the piles of undone work on my desk?

Still, the book does include some smarter tactics beyond the questionable psychology. Tracy first lays the case for spending your precious time properly planning out your day. He asserts that one minute of planning will save you ten minutes in execution time, which seems to ring true to me. I also likes how he helps readers learn to prioritize by emphasizing consequences. Instead of rushing to do the thing that some person says is the most important item, focus on what will happen if you don’t do something. Not only will this help you determine what to do first, but hopefully it will help you eliminate something useless from your to-do list.

There were other suggestions in this book that I had trouble with, but knew that Tracy was fundamentally right about, like the 70 percent rule. Indeed, I should be able to delegate a task to someone who can perform that task 70 percent as well as I can. But it’s so hard to let someone take something on that I can do 30 percent better! Regardless, it’s the job of books such as these to point out flaws in my conception of workplace efficiency, so I appreciate the wake-up call.

Other than that, the most useful things in this book are the questions Tracy forces readers to ask of themselves. A sampling:

  • If I were suddenly called out of town tomorrow, which tasks would I have to accomplish before leaving?
  • If I could only do one thing on my list of tasks, what would it be?
  • What is the most valuable use of my time right now?
  • Is this task urgent, important, or both?
  • What can only I do that, if done really well, will make a real difference to my organization?

What about you: Do you have any preconceived notions about time management that are holding you back?

Meg White

Meg White is the managing editor for REALTOR® Magazine and administrator of the magazine's Weekly Book Scan blog. Contact her at mwhite[at]realtors.org.

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  1. I honestly can say that over time I have convinced my self that there is not enough time in the day. A complete 24 hours would pass by and I felt like I worked all day but didn’t get anything done.After reading Eat that Frog by Brian Tracey things really started to come together. The book your referring to seems to have a lot of the same points.
    Well same author so I am not surprised. 🙂