Take Care of the Minutes

Woman Reading

I recommend you to take care of the minutes, for the hours will take care of themselves.” – Lord Philip Dormer Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield (1694-1773) 

Rarely do entire days slip by unnoticed. Instead, time is lost in small increments, such as 5 minutes here, 15 minutes there. For example, time is often wasted while waiting for a phone call, a visit, an appointment, or even dinner time.

The cure is always to be ready to start or continue a high payoff task such as reading. I almost always carry some magazine articles or one of the several books I reading with me, so if I find I have some idle moments, I am able to put them to use. Additionally, have a small library of digital audiobooks and ebooks loaded on my smartphone, tablet, and laptop, so I am always ready to learn and grow.

The 4th Earl of Chesterfield was British statesman and politician who led Ireland for a short time as he held the title Lord Lieutenant of Ireland; however, Lord Stanhope is most well-known today for the series of instructional letters that he wrote for his son that were published after this death. On December 11, 1747, he wrote the following amusing advice:

I knew a gentleman who was so good a manager of his time that he would not even lose that small portion of it which the calls of nature obliged him to pass in the necessary-house, but gradually went through all the Latin poets in those moments. He bought, for example, a common edition of Horace, of which he tore off gradually a couple of pages, read them first, and then sent them down as a sacrifice to Cloacina: this was so much time fairly gained.

The Bottom Line: Strive to waste no time and manage your minutes. Reading is one a good strategy to fill those tiny blocks of time that might simply pass-by otherwise.