Is Time Really Money?

Reconsider common cliches and gain control of your schedule.

April 1, 2003

One phrase that is overused in the American lexicon is "I don't have time." We use the lack of time as a catch-all excuse, but the expression has really come to infect our personal lives and business practices. We shortchange our families emotionally, give poor service to our customers and associates, and worst, endanger our reputations--all in the name of doing too much in too little time.

Real estate professionals are especially vulnerable to the problem of not having enough time. Many don't return phone calls or e-mail message can’t be bothered with details, and pass responsibility for their failures to use time wisely onto others.

The truth is you can make time for anything that you think is important. Although some things are beyond your control, you can mostly choose how you spend your day. If you feel overwhelmed and out of time, maybe it is time to stop and think about reestablishing your priorities. You may just simply have allowed your schedule to get out of hand. Sometimes a schedule does seem to take on a life of its own, but you can regain control.

Stop for a few moments and think about how, on whom, and on what you want to spend your time, and manage your schedule to accomplish your objective. What are your personal and professional goals? To make more money? To have more time for family? To making a positive difference in the world through a charitable endeavor?

Start with your calendar; won't you enjoy looking at it with a lot less clutter? It will surprise you how much your calendar may be crowded with things that really don't make a difference in your day, week, or your entire life. Strike off what doesn't really matter so that you don't have to look at it. Start fresh with activities that will help you meet your personal or professional goals. If you want to do more, find a way to delegate those tasks to someone else.

Next, clear your desk. Never handle a piece of paper more than once. Place your work load into stacks A, B, and C, then throw everything in C in the trash. Learn to say no to persons and responsibilities that won't help you meet your goals.

If you are tempted to use one of the following cliches about time - stop and think. It might be time to reprioritize.

1. I don't have time.

If you compare yourself to others and find they get more done, make more money, have happy/well-cared for/content families, a social life, hobbies, and have every hair in place all at the same time, it isn't because they "have more time." These people have just learned how to use time creatively to their advantage.

As frazzled as many people are, it is surprising how uncreative some people can be at getting things done. Once, I was calling parents in my son's home room class to get them to bring snacks or games to the upcoming Christmas party. One woman told me she didn't have time to bake or bring anything -- she worked. I sweetly told her that today, most mothers work, in fact, the volunteers were mostly working mothers like myself. Clearly exasperated, she exploded, "Why don't you call the men? I have a husband and two kids!" As a single parent, I wisely decided not to pull rank on who works the hardest. Instead, I suggested that she just pick something up on her next trip to the store, and send it along with her child. "Oh," she said, to this simple solution.

2. Time is money.

Many people think money is the only way to measure gains in life. You won't make any money at your daughter's Christmas recital, but don't you think you will fill her bank account with love when you show up and clap thunderously at her performance?

As far as business goes, it has been drummed into us by the media that time is a precious commodity. Everyone has to acclimate to the "speed of business." And if you aren't up to speed, there are whole industries devoted to helping you save time or show you how to make time pay.

If you are going to compete in business, you should take the time to learn whatever you can, especially if it is getting to the point that others are easily outpacing you. No one else can carry you or cover for you -- they simply don't have the time.

3. I have a "window" of time.

Business takes itself way too seriously. Aren't we just one person talking to another, or is this phrase about something else--a subtle attempt to put the other person in a one-down position? It's arrogant to assume that you are busier or more important than whoever is calling you. If you deign to offer a "window" of time, isn't that exactly what the other person is doing for you?

4. If I can find the time.

The implication here is that a person who uses this phrase has lost control of his/her schedule. The "daytimer" is now running things. If I were a client or an associate, I would be suspicious that this person allows his or her boundaries to be breached often, and may want sympathy. I would distrust that this person can be relied upon to get his or her end of the transaction handled.

5. I didn't have time to check my messages or to return your call.

So my call's not important? Gee, thanks for telling me.

An out-of-town friend called me one day, and wanted me to help her find an agent so that she could downsize to a condominium in Dallas. I called an salesperson who specializes in condos and left a message on his voice mail that I had a lead for him. He called my friend all right, a week later. In the meanwhile, my friend and her husband had already come to town over the weekend, looked at homes they found in the newspaper, and signed a contract with a listing agent on a pricey townhouse. To his belated credit, the first salesperson apologized, saying he didn't have time to return my call.

"I guess I blew it," he said.

"I guess you did, " I replied.

(c) Copyright 2003 Realty Times. Reprinted with permission.

Blanche Evans is a writer/editor and CEO of evansEmedia. Formerly, she was a senior editor with Realty Times, where she was named by REALTOR® Magazine as one of the most influential people in the real estate industry.

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