May 22, 2013

How To Deal With A Deficit Of Time

This week, I’m going to write about how deficits, those times in our lives where we feel malnourished, depressed, overextended, can actually be a great benefit to future success. The truth is, there’s no better time to reevaluate your process than when things aren’t going well. We’ve all heard very successful people say they learned more from failure than success and there’s a reason for that. Because it’s true! The trick is to efficiently breakdown the reasons for your deficits, rectify them, and then utilize that knowledge so that when the surpluses come roaring back (and they will), you can manage that success with more efficiency and, hopefully, more longevity.

One of the most basic “deficits” that almost everyone faces, is time.  We are all over run by obligations, by our schedules, by our calendars, that keep telling us we have a meeting, a new employee to train, a work lunch with a VIP investor, dry cleaning to pick up, etc., and the stress of these various duties can be overwhelming. So, how do we deal with 25 hours of need-to-get-done tasks when we all know we only have 24 hours to work with?

Here are a few ways guidelines that I’ve utilized in my life that have helped me manage my time deficits:

  1. Glass VS Rubber? – You’ve checked your calendar. You have ten things to do and two hours to do it. What will break if you don’t do it? What’s made of glass? What will bounce if you don’t do it? What’s made of rubber? Identify these two distinct outcomes and act accordingly. Get the Glass Items accomplished first. Put all your energy on those tasks. Prioritizing is crucial if you want to get out of a deficit cycle. As for the Rubber Items, one way to get those things done is to...
  2. Delegate – In many cases, you run out of time because you weren’t able or willing to delegate the task to others. You have people in your life, professionally and otherwise, to help. Use them! If you’ve had people drop the ball in the past, take this time to retrain or instruct more thoroughly. Let go! If you’ve done your job in selecting and training those that you delegate to, you should be pleasantly surprised with the outcome.
  3. Push Back – In many cases, you can’t delegate the Rubber Items. So what then?  It’s okay to admit that sometimes we over extend ourselves. Call the VIP investor and tell him you have to reschedule. Be apologetic, but firm. Find a new time and place that you KNOW you can commit to. Make that next week’s Glass Item. This isn’t what we want of course, to cancel or delay, but sometimes it’s the best possible option. Instead of the 3pm today, when you’d be frazzled, distracted, and otherwise not fully present, make it next Monday, when you can be at your best.
  4. Redesign For Simplicity – Now that you’ve delegated or postponed a few of those Rubber Items, you might STILL feel a time crunch.  At this point, you have to look at yourself. Are you being the most efficient version of YOU? My guess is maybe not. Take this time to redesign your efforts to simplify your work process. Often, this might mean resetting expectations. So, if you can’t postpone that VIP lunch, let him know that the lunch might just be coffee. Make this known as soon as possible, so no one is surprised by the edited outcome.
  5. Learn From the Experience – In some cases, you’ll burn a bridge or disappoint others with approaches 2-4.  That’s the price of overcommitting yourself. Learn from this! In the future, when you are approached with assignments and/or opportunities, be vigilant about accepting them, remembering the triage you had to go through last time your stretched your schedule to the breaking point.

Do you have any tips on how to solve a calendar crunch?  If I choose to add yours to the above list, I’ll send you a $15 Amazon gift certificate!

Posted at 10:09 AM in Business Effectiveness , Time Management  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)  |  TrackBack (0)



I agree, I think you've covered a lot. I would suggest that you book yourself time for priorities before your calendar fills up. It may be important family events (vacations), team retreats, scheduled exercise, or just a half hour at the beginning and/or end of the day to plan and handle the "glass" items. This will give you some margin. Don't make your entire calendar reactive to the demands of others. Take control of it in advance.


Move forward with gusto. No pining over the schedule, the undone, the yet to do. Passionately and purposefully move on. You've got a plan. Work it!


I think you've pretty much covered it all. Any additions to this list might kill the simplicity of it! But if one did have to suggest an addition, it would be this: Be realistic about how long things take to do. I notice lately I'm catching myself - my wife will ask me how long something will take. "Twenty minutes," I say. Then I think on it a second and say, "No, wait. It will probably take closer to an hour." This reality check can alleviate a lot of frustration down the road.

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