Making Time or Marking Time?

Most people know that “marking time” in the military is marching in one place, not moving. Do you sometimes feel as if you are ‘marking time,’ and not making the progress that you thought you’d be making by now?

When I was a young boy, I struggled just thinking about time. I used to think that if I ran instead of walked from point A to point B, the time I had gained would aid me one day – time I could cash-in when that bus just missed hitting me. I thought I was making time which, of course, is impossible. What I learned as I grew older, however, is that if I wanted to change my utilization of time, I needed to change my thinking about time itself.

For example, here are some common misconceptions about time:

• If you speed up, keep busy and active, you will get more done (“ready, fire, aim”).
• If you want things done right, do them yourself. If you do something well, you should do it.
• If you wait until the last minute of a deadline, you will be more productive.
• If you leave on time occasionally, you are not committed to the company’s success.
• If you say “no” to someone’s request, they may think poorly of you.
• If you spend time planning, it is likely a waste of time since tomorrow, things will likely change.

Of course, all of these are false which brings us to our attitudes about time.

Attitudes About Time

People are constantly saying, “I never seem to have enough time.” Think about this—we have all the time there is, correct? How can having ALL THERE IS not be enough? If you believe in God which has a grand design upon the world, why would He build a world with not enough time? The next time you have too much to read, too many commitments to honor, too much to do, remember who invited all this into your life: You. We make our decisions and choices, then those choices make us.

Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom lies in eliminating the non-essentials. Self-discipline is simply doing what you know you should do, regardless of whether or not you feel like doing it. Procrastination literally steals dreams from accomplishment, and there is a remedy at You have all the time in the world to do whatever is important to you. So what is important to you? Sybil Stanton in the 25-Hour Woman cites the “work and spend cycle” which speaks about the tremendous debt that most people are burdened by, and their resulting thinking that they must work harder and longer to substantiate the debt burden.

The cycle is self-perpetuating and onerous. Being debt-free does wonderful things to your attitudes about work and time.

A Test for Priorities

Here is a wonderful test for priorities. Assume for a moment that your doctor has just given the news that you have just six more months to live. To what would you give importance? Where would you invest your time with six months to live? Having asked this question to many groups of people over a number of years, I always get the same five

1) I would spend more quality time with my family.
2) I would see / do the things I always wanted to see and do.
3) I would get my affairs in order.
4) I would increase my faith.
5) I would reconcile any differences and say, “I forgive you.”

The point is that we all have six months to live, and hopefully much longer. Yet how many of the things that we would do with just six months to live can we start working on .. today? Yes, all of them. The key to will-power is want-power. If you want something bad enough, you will find the discipline to achieve it. Time is not something to save, but rather something to invest wisely. If you have too many priorities, then by definition, they all can’t be priorities.

The Bottom Line

A pilot radioed the following message from the cockpit to his passengers: “The bad news is that we are lost . . the good news is that we are going 600 miles per hour.” Being fast and hurried is vastly different from being effective.

According to Alec McKenzie, one of the foremost authors on time and priority management, 95% of people do not regularly set goals. Think about the relationship between having goals to time and priority management. How could one determine priorities without goals?

Remember the movie, Forrest Gump? Most people are like the feather being blown around by the breath of any wind, drifting aimlessly or because of no focus, they are blown off course by the slightest change or force. They are marking time – marching in place without getting anywhere, or at the least, where they really want to go or to

Without getting tools, techniques or coaching, we sometimes live the definition of insanity: doing the same things over and over, and expecting things to change. That is crazy. Begin at home. LOVE is a four letter word spelled, T-I-M-E.

Charlie Breeding is President of Performance Improvement Institute, an Internet Information provider, publisher and professional speaking, coaching, consulting and training firm . Mr. Breeding is a graduate of the US Military Academy, West Point and has worked in the Performance Improvement area for over 23 years – fifteen years with
Dale Carnegie Training, and two years with FranklinCovey. For more information, go to or email at