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Come September, Tempus Fugit Rapidus

It is a universal complaint of older, or shall we say, more mature, folks that time goes faster and faster every year. Some believe it’s just a reaction to the realization that time is limited—unlike the sense of infinite time you had stretching before you in your teens, when your birthday begins with the number 6, 7, or 8, you are keenly aware that the time you have left is a relatively definite, and probably not terribly large,  number.

Others believe the sense of time moving more rapidly as we get older is the result of what could be termed Proportionate Temporal Acceleration Theory (PTAT), which  states that the larger the percentage of your total experience a specific block of time occupies, the slower it appears to move, and, conversely, the smaller the percentage, the faster it zips by.

For example,  when you are 10 years old and must wait another year for  your next birthday, that year will represent approximately 1/10th, or 10%, of your total experience—a ponderous block in proportion to your experience so it looms very large. When you are 50 years old and wait a year in fear of your next birthday, that year represents 1/50th, or just 2%, of your total experience—a barely noticeable amount that seems to pass all too swiftly.

(It should be noted that modern merchandising trends tend to turbo charge temporal acceleration, with back to school sales starting in mid-July, Halloween candy on display in August, and holiday specials airing on cable networks in late September. Yes, Christmases do seem to come faster and faster when they are not separated by 12 months, but by just six—e.g., Christmas in July week entertainment and shopping networks, holiday catalogs in August, etc., etc.)

There is also a PTAT corollary related to specific blocks of time: the speed of time and its importance increase in inverse proportion to the amount of time left; the less time that remains, the faster that time moves. If you have four hours to meet a deadline, for example, the last hour will move four times faster and seem four times more important than the first. The reason is simple: In the first hour you had 240 minutes left, so one hour was just 25% of the available time; if you took you 30 minutes to do something, it represented only 12.5% of the available time so you had no sense of urgency. In the last hour, 30 minutes represents 50% of the available time and that time not only seems to move more rapidly, but assumes a much greater degree of importance and may be accompanied with growing panic.

Since each business year is a defined block of time, this corollary is applicable to our work activities, too. For example, in January you have 12 months to reach your annual sales or productivity goal, so if sales fall short for the first month, you still have nearly 92% of the year left in which to do better. Like that teenager with available time seeming to stretch to the horizon, each day still seems to move at a leisurely pace. But in December, even though you may be closer to your overall goal, you have only 8% of the time remaining to complete it and you sense your prospect for success slipping away faster and faster and each day becoming more important.

With Labor Day behind us, and the stores fully stocked with Thanksgiving merchandise, the countdown toward closing the books on 2014 has already begun to pick up speed. You can watch it fly by, or put the pedal to the metal yourself and move to close the gap. During the next two weeks, Bill Farquharson’s Sales Challenge program will begin, the fall session of NexGen Leaders™ will kick off, and the CEO Roundtable will meet again. Each of these programs helps one key sector of your organization—sales, future business leaders, key executives—learn, grow, and give your company the tools and tactics it needs to meet its 2014 goals while there is still time to do so.

Before the month is out, the2014 Owners Conference and GRAPH EXPO 2014 will provide learning opportunities, peer interaction, industry updates, and exposure to the most advanced services, products, technologies, and management techniques available. Participating in these events will ensure that you are not left behind as the industry and the economy continue to rebound.

No one can stop time from moving, but the good news is that you—and your competitors–all have the same amount of time available to accomplish your aims. How you use it will determine how fast—and how profitably—it seems to go.

Dawn Lospaluto

About Dawn Lospaluto

NAPL Senior Director of Communications, Dawn has been the editor of NAPL’s “PREVIEW” magazine and its predecessor publications, “NAPL Business Review,” Printing Manager,” and “The Journal of Graphic Communications Management,” for 20 years. She also writes and edits several NAPL member print and electronic newsletters, including [Re]View, Management Bulletin, NAQP News, Highlights, and Discover; press releases; and various marketing materials; and oversees NAPL’s book publishing program. Dawn previously served as corporate managing editor for Allied (now Honeywell) Corporation and as a reporter and editor for New Jersey’s largest evening newspaper. She is a graduate of Douglass College (Rutgers University) and holds an M.A. degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University, where she has served on the adjunct faculty.

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