Having recently had another birthday click over on the odometer, coupled with the the new decade – time is on my mind. Actually, time’s never far from my mind in my work-cave because I have strategically placed more than a dozen clocks around the room and can’t look in any direction without seeing one.
As I describe in my book, No B.S. Time Management for Entrepreneurs, I organise everything with predetermined start and end times; if someone has a phone appointment with me, they know in advance when it will end, not just when it will start – and the call does end as scheduled, even if in midsentence. I have trained and conditioned myself to be hypersensitive to time, and I train my clients to respect my hypersensitivity about it. Why? Because last year’s bank balance and your satisfaction or dissatisfaction with it is more a reflection of how you invest your time than of anything else. In reality, time is one of the few assets the entrepreneur owns outright and has total control over.
I don’t really need to follow you around and observe how you use your time to gauge how you’re doing in business. I only need to hear about your philosophy about time – that’s what governs your behaviour and tolerance of the behaviour of those around you. For example, one of my philosophies about time management relates to commitments. If somebody can’t keep seemingly minor commitments, they can’t be trusted to honour important ones, either. If they are allowed to hang around, soon they’ll cause you to fail to honour your own commitments. Your philosophy can also be a question of how you relate time and goals. For me, these questions always hover: Will this use of my time move me measurably closer to my meaningful goals? Is there even a chance it will? If not, why do it?
What’s time worth to you?
Do you actually handle time as money, not just give lip service to the idea? Can you tell me what your time must be worth per minute to achieve your income goals? You know why it’s difficult to find a clock in a casino? Casinos are designed to separate you from as much of your money as possible – to make you a loser – and that is best done by dulling your sensitivity to the passing of time. The same principle applies to your business life. The surest way to be a loser is to be casual or insensitive about time.
What’s your time philosophy?
I’ve spent 35 years with entrepreneurs, many of whom have converted ideas and grit into fortunes, but many more who never accomplish that alchemy. The difference is never the quality of their ideas. As a matter of fact, I’ve see fortunes manufactured from mediocre ideas and great ideas stillborn. It boils down to time philosophy. This is important because far too many entrepreneurs and those who observe them, write about them, glorify their success stories and hold up “The Great Idea” as some pedestal-worthy holy grail, are missing the point. That is worship of a false god. Hardly anybody gets paid for their ideas. Not even the Imagineers at Disney.
We actually get paid for what we get done. The entrepreneur has a situation that naturally encourages poor productivity – he is his own boss. This often yields an unproductive employee and a lenient, dysfunctional boss. This is why you must create a successful environment for yourself. Impose strict deadlines on yourself, be ruthlessly resistant to wastes of time by self and others and hold yourself accountable hour by hour. If you aren’t willing to work under such self-imposed pressure, I suggest you forget the idea of getting and staying rich as king of your own kingdom. Every great kingdom needs a ruler with an iron fist.