A friend of mine asked for some help yesterday. Well, it’s more like I offered to help and he just took me up on it. Either way, I hope that the little bit of advice I was able to give him helps him even in some small way on the path to the success I know he will have.

He thanked me publicly for taking the time out of my insane schedule to review something he’d written, and provide some suggestions. I thought that it was actually a bit strange that he did that, for I didn’t feel I was “taking time” at all. I was simply helping a friend. That doesn’t “take” time. I was “giving” time. There’s a key difference.

There are still 24 hours in the day. I’m reminded of one of my favourite quotes by Douglas Adams, “I love deadlines. I love the whooshing sound they make as they fly past my head.” Though it may seem like days are whizzing by you in a flash, the fact is, we all have the same amount of time. Every single person on the earth has 24 hours in a day.

This means you have the same amount of time as everyone else. “I’m running out of time” is a ridiculous statement, when you really think about it.

It’s not about how much time you have. It’s about what you do with the time you are given.

Lost time. I used to be a Production Assistant on live TV shows. My job was to keep the show on time. If we had to be out at exactly 59 minutes and 30 seconds, then it had to be exact, simple as that. 59:33 was unacceptable.

We were given a runsheet (a schedule of the events for the show) and I had to time each segment as it ran, then tell the director if we either needed to stretch for time, or cut time. I had multiple stopwatches, a time of day clock, pencils and paper. I can’t do math very well, but I can add time (e.g. what’s 3 minutes 45 seconds plus 1 minute 32 seconds?) like nobody’s business. I can also count out 10 seconds precisely without the aid of a timer. Makes me way fun at parties. ;)

In live TV, we were inevitably always making up for lost time. An interview would run too long, the host would babble, or someone mistimed the taped roll-in segment. Before we knew it, we were 2 minutes over, and we had to somehow make up that time.

The first thing to do in that situation is to cut out the least important stuff. You look at the runsheet, and see a 1 minute host banter segment. Gone. A couple of interviews lose 30 seconds each. Suddenly, your show is back on time and all’s right with the world.

If you are losing time, maybe you need to make yourself a little runsheet. Write down a list of everything you do in a day and give it a timeframe. Then figure out where you need to cut, so you have more time for the important stuff. In other words…don’t spend your efforts on things that aren’t important. I guarantee that will buy you time for the things that are.

It’s about time. Let’s face it, we all have overflowing inboxes, 40 million voicemails, people demanding our time and energy. But if it’s your goal to connect with people, be helpful, and nurture your online or offline relationships, then you need to carve out the time to do that. We all have things in the day that we do to waste time (Mine’s playing Bejewelled). Mostly, that’s about procrastination, and that is a topic for another post. But if you truly want to have more time, you’ll find ways to find the time.

It’s a shift of focus. You’re not running out of time. You, like everyone else, have all the time in the world.