ARTICLE: “Is There Enough Time to Do It ALL?”

I received some questions from my last article on time management and the victim mentality; I thought I should follow up with a bit of “proof.” Let’s explore further the question on whether a shortage of time is a valid reason for not “getting it all done.”

In your estimation, in percentages, what proportion of your waking hours do you invest in work?? This would include time you spent commuting, time you spent working in the evenings, and extra hours on the weekend. (Stop and think of an answer to that hypothetical question before you move on.)

If you are like most people, I would guess that you estimated between 60% and 70% of your waking hours are spent working each week. Yet, when I do some arithmetic, I usually find a number much closer to 50%:

Step 1: Take the total available hours in the day: 
24 hours x 7 days = 168 hours

Step 2: Calculate your WAKING hours: 

Average sleep: 
7 hours x 7 days = 49 hours

Total waking hours:
168 hours minus 49 hours = 119 hours (100% of time awake)

Step 3: Calculate your WORKING hours: 

Average time at the office: 9 hours x 5 days = 45 hours
Average time commuting: 2 hours x 5 days = 10 hours
Average work time during weekends = 4 hours

Total work time = 59 hours (49.57% of time awake or roughly 50%)

This figure would be even lower if I included in my calculations vacation time and holidays. I believe it just FEELS much higher because of the negative effects of stress from the workplace. In other words, explaining low productivity in terms of lack of time just doesn’t hold water. 

So if the problem, by definition, is not a shortage of time, what’s the problem? Well, it’s not time management, because you can’t manage time. You don’t manage five minutes and end up with six. You don’t manage information overload—otherwise you’d walk into a library and die, or the first time you connected to the Web, you’d blow up. You don’t even manage priorities—you have them. 

I believe there are only 3 things that you can manage:

1. Your Physical Self—the physiological effects of productivity
2. Your Mind—the psychological effects of productivity
3. Your Actions—the behavioral effects of productivity

In the next few issues of this newsletter, I’m going to share some techniques for each of these areas of productivity. These techniques are very simple, but that doesn’t mean implementing them will be simple. All-pro Brian Holloway said it beautifully when I heard him speak at a recent conference, “The only thing you have to do is get the ball from one end of the field to another while keeping the other team from doing the same.” Pretty simple, right? But definitely not easy. 

There are six productivity losses that occur from physical and physiological factors. I’ll introduce the first one in this issue and cover the remaining factors in subsequent issues.

1. Exercise

You may be tired of hearing how important exercise is for your energy level, but most people need to hear it again. If you’re consistently low on energy, an ironic paradox is the LESS active you are, the LESS energy you have. We all know this, but yet we still don’t exercise. Running, walking, biking, lifting weights, and ANY kind of aerobic activity or participative sport are all great for getting rid of stress and frustration. (Kicking the dog and punching the wall do not count.) 

Do SOMETHING. Even taking the stairs instead of the elevator at work will help. Force yourself to park far away from the entrance, so at least you’ll get in a brisk walk a couple times a day. If you’re facing an evening of paperwork and are already exhausted, the best thing you can do it get some exercise before going home. You may initially feel “too tired” to exercise, but it will pay off by giving you more energy than when you started!

© 2001 Laura Stack. All rights reserved. You are free to use portions of this publication in your company newsletter, provided the following credit is listed at the bottom:

Laura M. Stack, MBA, CSP, is “The Productivity PRO,”® helping people leave the office earlier, with less stress, and more to show for it. She presents keynotes and seminars on time management, information overload, and personal productivity. Contact her at 303-471-7401 or visit her website at