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Stopping the Time Bandits – Part I

You must always keep in mind that time is finite. This is huge. The people that say that “time is money” have it wrong. They are not equal; they are very different. If I spend $100 of my money on something and it doesn’t work out, I can just work harder the next day to make that money back and then some! But if I lose an hour, I will never get it back! Also, where money is somewhat infinite, time is not. It is finite. Everyone gets just 24 hours in a day. How you spend it is up to you, but if you waste it, you will never get it back!

Time is therefore your most precious commodity, and you must guard it jealously! It is yours, and never let anyone take it from you without your consent — and grant that consent judiciously. Be tough; be ruthless. It is your time, it is you life, and no one has the right to take it from you or force you to use it in a particular way. If you don’t take charge of your time, you will never have enough of it.

The Time Bandits

There was a movie that came out in 1981 called Time Bandits. It was very funny, and I loved it when I saw it, but I am going to steal the title here to make a point. There are time bandits in your life, and they are going to try and steal your time. Don’t let them!

These time bandits come in many forms, and not all of them are evil or malicious. Many of them will be your friends, family, and longtime colleagues. But that doesn’t mean that they aren’t a serious threat to you! You must beware of them nonetheless.

This is the first of several posts I will release on Time Bandits, but I wanted to start with the most insidious of all of them. This Bandit is . . .

Mr. “Got a Minute”

I hate this guy! He has stolen so much of my time over the years and has to be one of the biggest time bandits of them all! I am sure you recognize him just from his name and the damage he can do to your day. You are hard at work on something, you are “in the zone,” getting things done, and you hear a knock at your office door. He stands on the threshold, grinning, and wants to talk to you about something.

You can ignore him, but he’s a persistent SOB, and he won’t go away! He will just stand there until you acknowledge him, and when you do, he will ask, “Hey, have you got a minute?” What you say next is critical because guess what? It’s never just a minute! It’s at least 15 to 20 of them, and he seldom wants to talk about anything that will help you.

He may have a problem that he wants you to solve for him, but often he just wants to blather on about how the Eagles did against the Cowboys in last night’s game! Before you know it, you’ve lost half an hour, haven’t completed the task you were working on, have fallen out of the “zone,” and realized that you have a client meeting in 5 minutes, so you can’t get back to it!

How to Stop Him

This Time Bandit is telling you that your time is less valuable than his, that whatever you are doing is unimportant and is easily interrupted. Here’s what you said to him in response:

“I’m busy right now. Let’s meet at 4pm for 15 minutes and tackle everything on your list at one time.”

This will stop him in his tracks, but you may need to do it more than once for him to get the message. Eventually he will. You need to develop the representation in your office that you are very busy and you never just “have a minute.”

Gain Control of Your Practice

You are never going to gain control of your practice, be more effective, and more profitable, if you don’t have dominion over your time. You control it; no one else. Get more information on how to regain control of your time by downloading my free book, The Ulitimate Guide to Taking Back Your Time.

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How about more personalized assistance? Then click on this link to schedule a call with me. We can discuss your situation and then set up a free one hour coaching call.

Finally, for more comprehensive information on how to transform your solo practice, you can also get a copy of my bookGetting Off the Hamster Wheel.

Related Time Management Resources


Steven J. Richardson

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