Making Time for What Matters Most

I recently conducted a workshop on “Self Management in a 24/7 World” and asked attendees to think about their job and what they really should be focused on as their priority concern. I then asked them to assess, honestly, how much time they spent each day on that priority task. One woman raised her hand enthusiastically and said the most important use of her time is to be prospecting for new customers. But when I asked how much time did she spend each day on that she said “Zero.” That’s right. The most important thing she should be doing was taking up none of her time. Sound incredulous? (She obviously hadn’t yet read my new book Work Less, Do More).

What would your answer be? In running your business, what is the most important way you should be spending your time? Is it creating new products? Returning phone calls? Placing calls to try to set up appointments? Attending trade shows to expose your products to potential buyers? Whatever it is, write down your answer. Now ask yourself, honestly, how many hours – even minutes – today did you spend – are you spending – on that #1 priority task. If it’s a small or even non-existent part of your workday, you may need to consider making some dramatic changes in how you are managing your time (and your business).

Jan Yager, Ph.D. helps individuals and companies to become more efficient through her workshops, coaching, and her writings, most recently, Work Less, Do More: The 14-Day Productivity Makeover (Sterling Publishing Company). For more information, go to:

2017 update: Work Less, Do More is now published by Hannacroix Creek Books, Inc. and it is in a 3rd edition. The new version, with a different subtitle is, The 7-Day Productivity Makeover. For translation rights, contact

This blog was originally published at the Inc. magazine website,, on September 22, 2008