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Book Review: Time Traps by Todd Duncan

Business can be a cumbersome venture that sucks time from us on any number of tasks, priorities, visions, goals or preferences. Being able to avoid some of the pitfalls that historically sap our creative energy and executive activities is essential to building the business we imagine. In Time Traps, Todd Duncan offers an insightful and pragmatic approach to the construct of time management. Although there are plenty of individual challenges we each face as business owners and entrepreneurs, Todd outlines the following as specific traps that may be common to most if not all businesses and individuals: (a) the organization trap, (b) the yes trap, (c) the control trap, (d) the technology trap, (e) the failure trap, (f) the party trap, (g) the identity trap and (h) the quota trap.

While Mr. Duncan writes many pages on each topic, let me simply offer a one line summary for each of the traps he identifies.

(a) We all navigate a river of responsibilities and if we fail to learn how to steady the flow of the river (by constructing strategically placed dams), then we will be swept away in the oncoming deluge and simply struggle to stay above water, ever-gasping for air. My take away was to turn off email notifications on my work computer so that I only check email at pre-scheduled times.

(b) Three kinds of tasks control our days - productive, necessary and unnecessary. Learning to categorize the tasks that we face each day will help us determine when to say no to the unnecessary and readily embrace the productive and necessary.

(c) Every business leader or entrepreneur will have to face the reality that they may need to delegate task in order to truly grow. The trap is that you may believe, sometimes accurately, that nobody can accomplish a task as well as you. However, if you fall into the control trap, you will never reach the business potential available to those who can liberate themselves from the controlling trap of micromanagement.

(d) As technology continues to expand, we must avoid the pitfall that we may in fact waste time on “time-saving” devices, Apps and equipment. Take time regularly, whether weekly or monthly, to examine some new tools you have heard about. But before you sign up or make the purchase make sure that the function being provided is going to make you more efficient as a person or company. If not, then even it has cool bells and whistles, it may not be worth the investment of time and expense to integrate another tool.

(e) If you are actively engaged in business or your career, there will be good days and bad - victories and heart-breaking defeats. yes, we are to learn from our mis-steps, but do not fall into the trap of constantly dwelling on your losses to the point that it prevents you from taking future actions. In the words of William Ward, “Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker.”

(f) The flipside to the failure trap is the distraction and time sap that comes when we glory too long in our victories. Winston Churchill declared that “Success is never final.” While it is natural and healthy to celebrate the great months, the productive years and landing a big new client, we cannot linger too long in that success or we will lose precious time we have in serving that new client and continuing to grow further.

(g) No matter how much time you spend in your career or working on your business, don’t let your business identity be your sole identity. In some way, big or small, find a way to take control of your perspective on business and regularly ask yourself why are you working.

(h) While Benjamin Franklin aptly penned the lines that “time is money”, if we allow our lives or our business to be driven solely by this adage, then we supplant quality product for quantity production. Don’t let this happen to you and your business.

As the picture below depicts, business and the law that affects them can be time-consuming to comprehend, let alone manage, operate and expand. Hopefully, the above summary will not only save you time in your daily reading but also be a tool you can rely on in future situations to better focus on controlling the time allotted to you.

Joshua Irvine