Using Door-to-Door Salesman Repellent to Manage Time Better


Imagine you’re the average German citizen in the 60s. You’re in a hurry — always — and you don’t speak much English. But suddenly a nice young man in a smart black suit and an almost military haircut is at your door offering you a free demonstration of some product or another.

He’s polite. And persistent. You don’t really want to hurt his feelings by slamming the door in his face. But you also know if you give him any encouragement, you’ll be there at least an hour.

  • Do you stop and speak to him?
  • Do you rudely push him away and tell him to get lost?
  • Do you set fire to the nearest building and get away in the confusion?

According to one of my library acquaintances — an older gentlemen who likes to tell me stories whenever we bump into each other — the average German citizen of the 60s learned one line in English specifically to get rid of door-to-door sorts like these…

“Time is Money, and I Have No Money!”

That story sticks in my head, not because I generally have a line of door-to-door salesman vying for my attention, but because I do meet so many “harmless” little distractions in the course of a normal day.

Distractions that waste a little bit of time here, and a little bit more time there. Time is money, and suddenly I have no money.

How to Waste Money by Misinterpreting Gene Schwartz’s Time Rule

When I first started doing 21-day challenges, I borrowed the kitchen timer and set it for the Gene Schwartz approved 33 minutes. But I kept misplacing it, which annoyed everyone, so I downloaded a timer app.

Coincidentally, that app also had a stopwatch feature and for some reason (maybe instinct), I started turning it on while the 33-minute timer was running. Every time I’d “step away” during my 33 minutes, I’d pause the stopwatch and start it again when I came back to the task at hand.

When my 33 minutes was up, I’d write down the difference.

To my absolute shock and horror, during an eight-hour day, I was actually being productive for about four… on the worst days, my active work time could drop as low as two and a half hours.


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Suzanna Fitzgerald

Suzanna Fitzgerald

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