Making the Time

Posted on September 13, 2016 by Robert Ringer


In an interview I did some years ago with Hugh Downs, I asked him how he finds the time to get so much accomplished. He explained that people who complain about not being able to find the time to do things they say are important to them are approaching the issue with the wrong mind-set. His philosophy is that you don’t “find the time” to do anything; you “make the time.”

Finding time implies there is a certain amount of unused time somewhere in your day that you can utilize to work on something that’s important to you. But if your days are like mine, not only do you not have extra time on your hands, you can never hope to work on even those things that you consider to be of prime importance.

So if you’re constantly searching for a time opening to start exercising, take some online courses, or, as in the case of Hugh Downs, read all of the great works of literature, the likelihood is that you’ll never get around to doing any of these things. Parkinson’s Law is all too true: Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.

I highly recommend that you take Downs’ advice and, if a project is important enough to you, make the time to work on it. Otherwise, it may take you much longer than necessary to complete it — or perhaps even never work on it at all.

Which means, of course, that you have to prioritize, a practice that everyone likes to talk about but very few people are able to master. I realize that many folks don’t like to hear it, but in order to become effective at prioritizing, I believe you have to look at your business and personal life as one.

Perhaps the best example of this is exercise. Though you may think of exercise as part of your personal life, the reality is that it directly impacts your business life as well — especially if you die from a lack of it! Dead people — or even sick people — aren’t high earners. I know from experience that the only way I ever get around to exercising is if I make it a fixture in my regular schedule and set a specific time on specific days to do it.

Remember, if you feel as though you’ll never catch up on everything you want to do, you’re right. The only people who get everything done are those who are not going anywhere in life. (Hint: If you spend a great deal of time watching television, it’s a good bet that you may be in that group.)

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that if you’re over the age of twenty-five and spend hours on end playing with, and staring at, your smartphone, you’re probably better off to ignore everything I’ve said in this article and just continue on with your normal way of life. The withdrawal symptoms from your smartphone addiction could be so traumatic that it may be impossible for you to focus on adult projects.

Bottom line: Forget about trying to find time. In an active life, there’s none of that particular commodity lying around unused. If something is important enough to you, make the time to do it. Remember, you have free will, so the plain truth is that you can do anything you really want to do at any time you choose to do it.

Robert Ringer

Robert Ringer is an American icon whose unique insights into life have helped millions of readers worldwide. He is also the author of two New York Times #1 bestselling books, both of which have been listed by The New York Times among the 15 best-selling motivational books of all time.

21 responses to “Making the Time”

  1. Reality Seeker says:

    "Dead people — or even sick people — aren’t high earners."

    They don't make very good presidents, either. Or do they? I haven't quite decided if Hillary's poor health is good for freedom lovers or not. If the Deep State can drag her over the finish line before she collapses, totally, maybe it's a good thing to have a sickly, low-energy president. If Hillary drops dead as president, it would sure be a nice setback for the Deep State/ Police State. The stolid bureaucracy wouldn't expand. And there'd be a pause in government filching. The VP would be treated like a lame duck, and gridlock would ensue. So, maybe a sickly Hillary being dragged across the finish line and Trump having the election stolen from him won't be as bad as I first thought…..?

    • I don't bellieve "the polls". People will "come out of the woodwork" to vote for Trump. The problem may be to overcome the illigit votes. The cheating and manipulation.

      • Reality Seeker says:

        The polls are rigged in favor of Crooked. The polling "methodology" is weighted in favor of Democrates.

        Crooked might be sickly, but she has a lot going for her, including how the votes shall be counted. The courts will be stacked in Crooked's favor, too, so anything Trump does is going to be an uphill battle for him.

        Crooked will be wheeled across the finish line. Trump will have to fight every inch of the way…..

        Let's see who prevails…….

        Personally, I'd, like to see Crooked fall over and drop dead during one of the debates. But that doesn't mean I think Trump is going to be a great president.

    • Robert Ringer RJR says:

      I think you're being a bit optimistic here. Obama would simply be more directly involved rather than controlling things covertly as he now plans to do.

      • Reality Seeker says:

        Yeah, President Duplicitous will be lurking around no matter who wins. There's a rumor going around that if Crooked either drops out or drops dead then the Deep State shall allow Obama to completely cancel the election. Won't that be fun?

  2. Yes, "tis true. All is a matter of PRIORITIES. What one values.

  3. Rick Harmon says:

    I don't exercise to add years to my life; I exercise to add life to my years.

  4. Michael Ponzani says:

    I heard this when i was around 14 from a very accomplished plastic surgeon. He said you'll make the time to do what you like.

  5. letterman88 says:

    But, there's one thing you left out. Self-discipline. People who complain about not having time for this and that are often time wasters. Carrying a smartphone around in one hand like an infant or checking your smartphone every 1-3 minutes has become a massive time waster. Time management and self-discipline go hand in hand.

    Parents set the example. But then again, many parents are not there to mind the kids these days. Too busy married to their careers. So, where do the kids learn about time management? They don't. It's one thing I instilled in my son. I was a single Dad for years. So what. I was there. He has the self-discipline of a steel rod. His time management abilities are off the map.

  6. larajf says:

    I learned about the big rocks from Dr. Covey over twenty years ago. I am happiest when I'm following the big rocks first. But as letterman88 said, it's self-discipline to be consistent.
    When I'm building back up that muscle, I'll use a timer and focus on only one task until the timer goes off. No checking FB. No checking email.

  7. Jim Hallett says:

    Very concise and important essay. We ALWAYS have time for what we determine is a priority. The smartphone set has no concept of priorities – other than remaining attached to their electronic tether – so they whine about how life is just speeding by. I also loved your reference to Hugh Downs, a real renaissance man, and oh how his former show, "20/20" has denigrated since he left. It should now be called "The Murder of the Week" show as it is just yellow tabloid "journalism come to TV, and I NEVER watch it now.

  8. Marcus says:

    stay on topic, people. isn't the upcoming election covered enough?

  9. Mic says:

    Excellent article!!!

    Robert said…

    "Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that if you’re over the age of twenty-five and spend hours on end playing with, and staring at, your smartphone, you’re probably better off to ignore everything I’ve said in this article and just continue on with your normal way of life. The withdrawal symptoms from your smartphone addiction could be so traumatic that it may be impossible for you to focus on adult projects."

    That is soooo true and absolutely awesome as well! I am printing this article to keep. Fantastic!

  10. TN Ray says:

    Great article. Great mix of wisdom and humor reminiscent of your great books (WTI, LOF#1).

  11. Excellent post. I definitely like your site. Keep writing!

  12. Yeah, I remember that interview and support his explanation. Now this post and site… are very useful and interesting for everyone. Happy many returns of the day.