There is No Shortage of Time


Who doesn’t want more time?  We all want more time to do the things we want to do.

The reality is, we have to make the most of the time we’ve got.

The real problem is we spend time on the wrong things, we do things the least efficient way, or we simply let time expand to fill its container (see Parkinson’s Law.)

The real key to improving time management is first changing how you think about your time and taking steps to own how you spend it.

In the book, The 80/20 Individual: How to Accomplish More by Doing Less-The Nine Essentials o, Richard Koch teaches us that there is no shortage of time.

Key Take Aways

Here are my key take aways:

  • Time is a part of everything.  It’s not a separate thing that you can just get more of or less of.  Time is  a fundamental part of everything you do.
  • Make the very best use of your time.  It’s not the time you’ve got, it’s how you use it.  Instead of telling yourself there aren’t enough hours in the day, optimize the time you’re already spending.  For example, focus is a powerful tool for improving how you spend your time.
  • Work less, accomplish more.  Focus on unique value.    You could work a 2 day week and achieve 60 percent more.  This assumption is based on the idea that you cut out the activities that are least effective, and you spend your time on your 20 percent spike.

Really it comes down to consistently spending your time where you get your greatest return.  I’ve gradually learned to spend more time where it counts, by being mindful, setting boundaries and time budgets, playing to my strengths, and improving my techniques and skills.

Time is Not “Other”

Time is not “other.”  It’s a part of everything we do.  We should think of product-time and service-time.  Koch writes:

“First, in business as in the rest of life, time is not “other.”  It is part of the physical things we make and provide to customers.  It is part of our products, part of our services, part of our raw material, part of our output.  Therefore, we should not think of what we do for customers as separate from the time we take to do it.  We should not think of products or services on the one-hand, and time on the other.  We should think of “product-time” and “service-time.”  Time is part of what we add or subtract.  Providing an existing product or service in a much faster way could change its economics and offer you a terrific new business opportunity.”

Time if Not Finite and Short

Time is a part of what we do and who we are.  Koch writes:

“Second, time is not finite and short, nor is it our enemy or a commodity in extremely short supply.  Time is an integral part of what we do and who we are.  Time is a dimension where, like space, we can express ourselves and create value for others, and therefore ourselves.  People living in a free society rarely say, “I don’t have enough physical room to express myself; there is not enough space in my life.”  But people often do say, “I don’t have enough time to express myself; I don’t have enough time to do what I want.”  It sounds more plausible; it makes as little sense.”

The Problem is Our Use of Time

It’s not our lack of time.  It’s how we use it.  Koch writes:

“By combining the theories of Einstein and Pareto, you’ll discover that if 80 percent of the wealth (or anything else desirable) is created in less than 20 percent of the time available, then there is no shortage of time.  For individuals and business alike, there is no shortage of time.  The problem is our trivial use of time, not time itself.  We use our time most productively for only a small part of our existence; most of what we do matters little.  In other words, our problem is triviality itself, few people achieve their full potential, or anywhere close to it.”

Achieve More with Less

You could work a 2 day week and achieve 60 percent more.  This is about what you focus on and whether you spend your time where it makes the biggest difference.  Koch writes:

“Any venture or person could achieve much more while using much less time.  The 80/20 individual principle suggests that you could work a two-day week and still achieve 60 percent more than you do now.”

The Very Best Use of Our Time Must Define Our Business and Make it Unique

Whatever is the best possible way you can spend your time, can help you define your business and make it unique.  It’s really about spending your time on your 20 percent spike.  Koch writes:

“Einstein’s theory reinforces the idea of the 20 percent spike and redefines it in terms of time.  In other words, the activities that make the very best use of our time must define our business and make it unique.”

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Photo by azrainman.


  1. I love this one with all my heart 😉
    Loved the book too.

    How trivial, how powerful, … how often neglected…:
    “Time is not “other.” It’s a part of everything we do”

  2. When we focus on the most important projects and not worry about the small ones, we have a better chance of success. My blog started growing more rapidly when I stopped trying to do everything – respond to every email, accept every guest posting request, and engage on 2 dozen social networking platforms.

    I’ve focused on the most important parts and work just as much, but I’m getting so much more done.

  3. Hello,

    What a great post!I have realized recently,I can work more productively in two long days then a 6 day week – I think rounding out the relaxation and breaking away from work tasks give us more motivation and a better prospective on work and personal life.
    Like I said before the weekends need to be longer 😉

    I have really enjoyed this article and the pic is great,too.

  4. I agree with what Karl said, it truly boils down to where you place your focus and choosing what works best for you. I think there is so much pressure placed in our society to be constantly busy as if that is an indication of importance. A rush and stressed pace actually does not get a lot done. At least, it doesn’t work for me. 🙂

  5. JD – This is brilliant and it has made me think about time differently. I was worried that I might not have time to do a couple of projects I’m working on. But I see now that if I use my time well – I could easily get them done and have days off.

  6. Hey JD.

    I remember someone saying that time is the one thing that we all have exactly the same amount of. We all have 1,440 minutes every day.

    It’s like this. If you had a bank account that allowed you to withdraw $1,440 every day, but the condition was that you had to spend all of it or it would go away, what would you do? Would you let it go to waste, or would you withdraw that money and spend it?

    It’s an appropriate comparison because there’s so much we can do with our minutes every day, but once the day is over we will never get those minutes back. They’re gone forever. Yet, we all have that little bank account with 1,440 minutes deposited daily, and no one gets more or less minutes than we do.

  7. So true, JD. I was told this some time back, and now I smile when someone tells me “I have no time”. How is that possible? We have the exact same 24 hours a day – it’s how we choose to spend it. Great post.

  8. Nice article; I especially like this as a succinct summary of what needs to be done:

    “I’ve gradually learned to spend more time where it counts, by being mindful, setting boundaries and time budgets, playing to my strengths, and improving my techniques and skills.”

    Thanks for the reminder…

  9. Hi J.D.

    It is in our point of view and the value we place on time. Very interesting information and I like how it point everyone into a new way of looking at time.

    Giovanna Garcia
    Imperfect Action is better than No Action

  10. @ Alik

    Just tonight a friend and I were talking about writing books faster, which actually changes the product. Time and product are intertwined.

    @ Positively Present

    Thank you! I was so happy to come across such a perfect picture.

    @ Karl

    It sounds like you definitely found the way to separate the wheat from the chaffe.

    @ Bunnygotblog

    Thank you. I really think my downtime contributes significantly to my uptime. It’s another reminder of how energy can make a huge difference and motivation is key to your best results.

    @ Nadia

    The irony is a I know a lot of busy people that don’t actually get anything done. I think a cutting question is, are you spending more time on the things that matter and less time on the things that don’t. Of course it’s all relative, but that simple question really helps me stay focused on what’s important.

    @ Cath

    Thank you. I used to be very productive by throwing time and energy at problems. The hader I worked, the more behind I got. Now, I produce more meaningful results by focusing on the vital few and being choosy about what I spend my time on. It’s a strategy shift that really does pay off.

    @ Trey

    I like that a lot. Putting a cost to things really does help put it in perspective. I do want to spend my 1,440 minutes the best way I can.

    @ Daphne

    I know what you mean. I run into the “I have no time” excuse all the time, and my response is always you make time for what you make time for.

    @ Paul

    Thank you. I think those are the vital behaviors that really made a difference for me.

    @ Giovanna

    You’re right – perspective really does change everything.

  11. As Liara Covert would note, time is an illusion, we will never run out of it. And I tend to agree. Any perceived lack of time is usually because we are not focused on what ne need to be.

  12. @ Fred

    Thank you.

    @ Jannie

    Time is actually one of my favorite things to distort. I love the fact that I can unwind things and slow it down to where a moment stretches out forever, or where time can fly while I’m having fun. You’re right, it’s really about where we put our focus.

  13. Great post! I disagree with the notion that time is not finite. OUR time is finite. Humans are mortal. We die. Our time on earth is finite. And because it is finite, we need to prioritize and make good decisions about how to use our time wisely and effectively.

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