Do you have time for the roses?

Published 10:04 pm Monday, April 10, 2017

By Joseph L. Bass

There is an old saying about people who are preoccupied with too many minor life issues. They are so distracted by smaller less-important things that they even miss out on the minor pleasures of life — smelling the roses.

Some of these people try to practice “time management” so they can complete as many little things in a day as possible. They often wonder why their lives are not going as well as they want, since they “accomplish” so much. Some express frustration; their list of things to do is never-ending. The more they accomplish, the longer the list.

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This situation is common in most organizations and in the personal lives of many Americans.

In my job as a professional consultant with organizational managers and individuals, there are two factors they need to understand. The first is that many small problems are a result of larger issues not being identified and successfully addressed.

There exists a long history dealing with this dating back to the years following World War II in Japan. This was a major concept introduced by W. Edwards Deming to Japanese industry.  The nation’s industrial base had been destroyed from Allied bombing.

Before Deming arrived, post-war Japanese products were junk. With application of his concepts, involving identifying and addressing major issues, their products became known as the best in the world.

Most small production problems are caused by a small number of unidentified and unaddressed major issues. Clear up the big things, and many small ones go away. This is true in an industrial setting and in individuals’ lives.

The second factor involves the fact that there is no such thing as “time management.” Time cannot be managed, motivated, redirected, sped up or slowed down. There is only “self management” and “priority management.”

Too many people’s lives are about as productive as a dog chasing his or her tail. There is a lot of action, but little is accomplished.

The first challenge in improving your organization’s productivity or your personal life is to carry out an assessment of priorities. What are the big objectives, and why are they important?

The second challenge is determining what activities have the greatest potential for successfully accomplishing each priority. The third challenge is daily self-management.

There will never be enough time to smell the roses if you let small distractions get in your way of working on important priorities.

Joseph L. Bass is the executive director of ABetterSociety.Info Inc., a nonprofit organization in Hobson. Email him at