It’s About Time

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It’s About Time!

“Hey Hal, I forgot my lunch, so I am going to take $10 out of your wallet so that I can go eat,” commented Sean, a coworker, as he grabbed the cash and dashed off to lunch.

Hal thought about it and realized that because Sean took the $10 and the lunchroom no longer accepts credit cards, he wouldn’t be able to eat lunch because has a busy day ahead and won’t have the time to go anywhere else. He thought, At least Sean told me this time. That was really nice of him. The last time he did this I didn’t realize it, ordered a sandwich and didn’t discover my lack of funds until I was at the register. How embarrassing.”

Hal turned back around to his computer and began to work. He learned that if he turned his focus to the tasks at hand, he wouldn’t notice his stomach growling on the frequent occasions when others had taken his funds. Just as he began to immerse himself into his work, the phone rang and broke his concentration.

“Hello Hal, it’s Jody,” said the voice on the other end of the line.

“Oh hello Jody how are you?” Hal replied in his usual fast paced manner.

“Not so good,” Jody sighed. “Ya know those awesome outlet stores around the corner of my house? The stores with the delicious deals on all of my favorite designer labels?

“Why yes,”Hal answered trying to be polite. The closest he’d ever been to the outlet mall was the billboard he saw on the way to work.

“Well….they were having a BLOWOUT sale on Prada shoes and Coach purses and I just couldn’t contain myself!” Jody went on to explain that she maxed out her credit card on her last vacation and that she used Hal’s credit card for her new wardrobe purchase. She wanted to call to thank him for being so generous. Jody is Hal’s sister.

After Hal hung up the phone from Jody, he took some time to process what he’d just heard. His sister, the clothes horse, had just purchased a new wardrobe on his credit card. He thought to himself, “Well I’ll just have to check the balance before Saturday. I want to make sure that I have enough to take my wife out to dinner and maybe get her some flowers. I sure do love my wife.”

Ever the diligent employee, Hal shifted his focus back to the task at hand and tried to put the worry of Jody’s extravagance and potential lack of funds for his anniversary celebration out of his mind.

Just then, an email popped up from his boss. The subject line read, YEAR END BONUS. “Fantastic!” Hal thought as. “I was thinking I would use my bonus to put away a little money towards the children’s college fund and maybe finally take a real family vacation. It’s been a few years since we have had one.”

Hi Hal,

I hope this finds you incredibly well. I wanted let you know how grateful I am for all of your work. You’ve really gone the extra mile on many occasions. Everything from staying late to compiling our year-end reports in such an organized and timely fashion. Thank you as well for covering for me during my trip to Hawaii.

I also appreciate your willingness to be a team player. You make everyone else’s happiness your priority!

So…you know that boat photo I showed to you at our last meeting—the 30 foot yacht? I thought it would be just perfect to take with me on my trip to Florida in a few months. I got a huge discount for purchasing it before the end of the year.

Because you are such a nice guy, I didn’t think you would mind if I simply didn’t give you a bonus this year and instead put it toward the yacht.

I knew you would understand, and I’ll be sure to send you a signed postcard (or at the very least bring one back to the office).



Depleted, Hal turned back to his computer with a little less enthusiasm than before. His hunger had turned from a huge growl to feeling faint. A part of him felt disappointed about having his hopes dashed once more. “I guess I won’t be able to do something for my family after all,” Hal sighed, “Definitely, no chance I will get the new speedboat I want. I wonder if it’s even possible to get a new set of rows for my rowboat.”

In an effort to revive himself so that he could make it to the end of the day. Hal shuffled over to the break room. He found himself feeling effects of low blood sugar.

As he looked around, Hal saw Kathy approaching him with her usual strident confidence with Joe following behind her. It looked like the dynamic duo had a plan, and he was part of it—like it or not.

“So Hal,” Kathy began, “Joe and I were brainstorming about how to be sure we could have all the sponsored tables at our fund raising event sold within the next few days. We remembered how you helped us out last year. So we naturally assumed that you would not only buy a ticket, but sponsor a table so that we really good for our committee meeting on Friday.”

Kathy went on to say, “And we’ve even made it more convenient for you by charging your debit card for $1,750.00 because we had the information on file from last year. Of course, we’ll be sure you receive a receipt for the tax-deductible portion.”

“Thanks for being such a loyal supporter to our community! We couldn’t have done this without you!” Joe said.

When they walked away, Hal was flummoxed. He exclaimed internally, “That’s the mortgage payment! How am I going to explain this to my wife?”

How do you feel about the way people treated Hal? How could people treat him that way? Why didn’t he stand up for himself?

Here is the point: If you’re effectively investing time in your top priorities, you may be getting time-looted every day.

Do you:

Allow coworkers to take your time by scheduling unwanted and unnecessary meetings?
Give extended family members permission to ask you to do anything at any time?
Say “yes” to every request that comes your way, even if it costs you your precious downtime?

These are just a few examples, but if you find yourself allowing them in your precious schedule you are letting others spend your time instead of investing it for yourself. This is actually worse than letting other people spend your money because your time is literally your life.

So how do you take back control? Clarify your goal and action based priorities and relentlessly focus on them. Create absolute “YES” and “NO” lists.

Set appropriate boundaries and watch the way your life changes in a great way.