As we talk about priorities and prioritizing our lives and activities, we find that controlling our time means controlling our lives. One fallacy that is a major one for us is the fact that we think we will have more time “at some other unspecified date.” The second fallacy is that we think we can save time. The fact of the matter is that we have all the time that there is. Now, listed below are time robbers. They have been divided into two groups. Group A is usually things imposed upon us over which we have no control. Group B is most often of the self-inflicted variety.

While many of these time robbers are avoidable, many are not and are beyond our control. Many of these simply creep into our lives and steal our time without us even being aware of them. Suddenly, our daily allotment of time is gone and we do not know where it all went nor what we accomplished. As you read through the list, give each one a ranking of 1-10 then see if the top 10 could be eliminated or changed to keep them from robbing you.

Group A (Imposed upon us)

Group B (Self-Imposed)


Failure to delegate

Waiting for answers

Poor attitude

Unclear on activities

Personal disorganization

Unecessary meetings


Too much work


Poor communications


Shifting Priorities

Lack of self-discipline

Equipment failure

Leaving tasks unfinished

Red tape

Poor planning

Conflicting priorities

Unclear personal goals

Mistakes of others

Attempting too much

Untrained staff


It has been discussed and found that the 5 most popular time robbers are:

  • 1) Interruptions
  • 2) Procrastination
  • 3) Shifting priorities
  • 4) Poor planning
  • 5) Waiting for answers

Interruptions consist of:

  • Telephone calls/drop in visitors
  • Some interruptions are totally unnecessary and are perceived as a total waste of time.
  • Some interruptions are those that we care about and are valuable to us.
  • Untimely interruptions are sometimes necessary but they come at an inconvenient or in appropriate time.

Procrastination consists of:

  • One of the best ways of identifying this problem area is ask this question:
  • Is it a conscious problem – Where we are “awake” and aware of what we are doing? OR
  • Unconsciously – Where we are almost totally unaware of our actions.
  • No matter which, we are guilty of the failure to complete a task, then it has robbed us of time. Time is money.

Shifting Priorities:

  • A workplace, such as our Ag-production environment, does not allow a great deal of shifting priorities because the “buck always stops in your lap”.
  • Sometimes we truly wish it did though.

Poor Planning:

  • An old axiom says, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”
  • Poor planning is obviously a self-imposed time robber.
  • The making of to do lists are very important, however those activities
  • must be carried out or again, it has robbed us of precious time.

Waiting for answers:

    • “Sometimes it feels that the faster I go, the more behind I get.”
    • This may be true, especially if we are sitting and waiting on someone to get back to us.
    • We, in the Ag-community, are not noted for patience and while we must learn a dose of patience
    • from time to time, waiting does rob us of time for special things that we need or could be doing.

As we looked at NASA and found the experience amusing in that we see each and everyone of us prioritizes in a different way, we take that analogy back to our every day lives and how are we going to utilize it in what we are doing.

In Ella Wheeler Wilcox’s poem, “Will”, she says:

There is no chance, no destiny, no fate that can circumvent or hinder
Or control the firm resolve of a determined soul.

That is really a profound statement. We in the Ag-community can relate to that probably better than many folks in many other areas of work, because each and every day “on the farm” we are met with obstacles that we have to circumvent to make the entire operation run smoothly. Many times those can be so huge the tasks seem totally overwhelming. Then we have to stop, reflect a moment, then regroup our thoughts and put us back on our task at hand and go again.