Time Management Tip from P. T. Barnum

P. T. Barnum's Time Management Tip: Focus

P. T. Barnum

This time management tip is one from which we can all benefit. Time management is something we all struggle with from time to time – and some of us struggle with constantly – so here’s a time management tip that I culled from none other than entrepreneur extraordinaire, P. T. Barnum.
P. T. Barnum is crediting for having said:
“Do not scatter your powers. Engage in one kind of business only, and stick to it faithfully until you succeed, or until your experience shows that you should abandon it. A constant hammering on one nail will generally drive it home at last, so that it can be clinched. When a man’s undivided attention is centered on one object, his mind will constantly be suggesting improvements of value, which would escape him if his brain was occupied by a dozen different subjects at once.”

P. T. Barnum’s Time Management Tip: Focus

To paraphrase, P. T. Barnum’s time management tip dictates that you must focus in order to be successful. It’s a simple concept to understand but a difficult one to master. Now, let’s consider P. T. Barnum’s time management tip in the context of small businesses like mine, where multi-tasking and time-blocking are common time management strategies frequently employed.

Time Management Tip: Focus and Multi-Tasking

There are many people who feel that there really is no such thing as a human’s ability to multi-task. Perhaps computers can do this – perhaps even efficiently – but when it comes to doing more than one thing at a time, humans flop. (Let’s exclude the notion of accomplishing multiple things – “multi-tasking” – through the use of modern conveniences. For example, doing laundry and putting together a new marketing campaign at the same time is not really multi-tasking since, after all, a machine is likely doing the actual washing, not the so-called multi-tasker.) Some argue, “multi-taskers excel only at mediocrity.”
The power in this time management tip of focus lies in honing in on one thing at a time and doing whatever that is until it’s finished. There is an enormous time efficiency realized in not having to flip back and forth, having to start up again each time. If you can maintain focus to the completion of a task, clarity will be maintained and it will be completed more quickly.
There is little room for mediocrity in small business.

Time Management Tip: Focus and Time-Blocking

Being able to focus and finish the task at hand, AND build time into your day – that is what is required to master your most important tasks.
“Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Louis Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.” Whew! Ben Kinney, a unique thinker, says, “If you don’t get it done by noon, you’re just a loser.” Harsh! Nonetheless, the top 20% of your peers likely stay laser focused through mid-day and then the rest of the day is theirs to enjoy!

Time Management Tip: Focus Supports Your Why

Of course, purpose fuels effort, plain and simple. Why are you doing what you’re doing? When you figure that out and find your passion for what you’re doing to fund that purpose – every day is a magnificent day!
Go out and begin your mastery of the one thing that will make a difference in your business this year. The canvas is clean! Paint something magical!
Best to you!
– Drew
PS: We have another time management tip too!

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  • Seth February 3, 2012 at 9:07 am

    Very nice! PT Barnum is one of my favorite characters from history, especially since I live in his home town. He was an amazing man for what he was able to accomplish in his life. Great tips!

  • Niko February 14, 2012 at 11:26 pm

    I agree with this. The main problem with multi-tasking is that you don’t have your full attention on the things you are doing, so the compromise is to have mediocre results.
    Thanks to this enlightening post.