You will find that some ways of saving time, or better utilizing it, do need an investment—but it is an investment of time. It seems like a contradiction in terms, having to spend time to save time. Again this can all too easily become a barrier to action. Yet the principle is clear.

Invest time to save time: there is a time equation that can and must be put to work if time is to be brought under control. There are many ways of ensuring that time is utilized to best effect, and, while some take only a moment, others take time either to set up or for you to adopt the habit of working in a particular way.

If we consider an example, then the point becomes clear. This is linked to delegation, a subject we return to later, and to the phrase you have perhaps said to yourself, or that at any rate is oft repeated: “It is quicker to do it myself.” When this thought comes to mind, sometimes, and certainly in the short term, the sentiment may well be correct. It is quicker to do it yourself. But beware, because this may only be true at the moment something occurs. Say someone telephones you requesting certain information, it doesn’t matter what, but imagine that you must locate and look something up, compose a brief comment to explain it, and send the information off to the other person with a note of the comment. It is a minor matter and will take you only four or fi ve minutes.

Imagine further that, to avoid the task, you consider letting someone else do it. They are well able to, but explaining and showing them what needs to be done will certainly take 10–15 minutes of both your time and theirs. It really is quicker to do it yourself. Not so; or rather certainly not so if it is a regularly occurring task. Say it is something that happens half a dozen times a week. If you take the time to brief someone, then they will only have to take the action for less than a week and the time spent briefi ng will have paid off; thereafter you save a signifi cant amount of time every week, indeed you save time on every occasion that similar requests are made on into the future. This is surely worth while. The time equation here of time spent as a ratio of time saved works positively. This is often the case and worthwhile savings can be made by applying this principle, both to simple examples such as that just stated and to more complex matters where hours or days spent on, say, reorganizing a system or process may still pay dividends.

Beware: it is so easy to fall into this trap. For whatever reason, we judge it to be possible (better?) to pause from what we are presently doing for the few moments necessary to get another task out of the way, but not for longer in order to carry out a briefi ng or whatever other action would rid us of the task altogether, and ultimately make a real time saving. It is worth a thought. Become determined not to be caught in this time trap and you are en route to saving a great deal of time.