Book Review


Time Traps: Proven Strategies for Swamped Salespeople
By Todd Duncan


Todd Duncan’s “Time Traps” discusses common mistakes that people make that prevent them from best utilizing their time.  While the book bears the subtitle, “Proven strategies for swamped sales people,” just as time traps are interdisciplinary, the strategy could prove helpful to busy people of varying occupations.

Duncan asserts that true time conservation is unrealistic because time is a fixed resource. We can only seek to better utilize the time we have and beware of certain traps that cause us to waste time.  He illustrates this point by quoting Marcia Hancock’s Psalm 23 Antithesis.

The clock is my dictator, I shall not rest.

It makes me lie down only when exhausted.

It leads me to deep depression, it hounds my soul.

It leads me in circles of frenzy for activity’s sake.

Even though I run frantically from task to task,

I will never get it all done, for my “ideal” is with me.

Deadlines and my need for approval, they drive me.

They demand performance from me beyond the limits of my schedule.

They anoint my head with migraines, my in-basket overflows.

Surely fatigue and time pressure shall follow me all the days of my life,

And I will dwell in the bonds of frustration forever.

Duncan’s first warning was not to resign to the fact that you can never manage to have more time and retreat to living in chaos. He proposes that while we have no control over the amount we have, we do have control over how we allot that time.

According to Duncan most people tend to make the best use of their time when they have very little. When we are in a crunch we can seem to make every second count.  He uses the example of how productive we tend to be when we have an impending deadline or are trying to get a host of things accomplished prior to leaving for vacation. He also asserts when we have lots of time we tend to waste it doing things we wouldn’t have done, like spending extra time getting organized.

He organized tasks into three basic types: unnecessary, necessary and productive. Unnecessary tasks are time traps or things that normally waste time, like web-surfing, chatting, emailing friends. Necessary tasks are just that, things that have to get done in order for you to move forward. Productive tasks are normally the result of a necessary task but consist of strategic activities to help you move forward.

Duncan goes into great details of ways to minimize paperwork and time spent on administrative tasks. He also discusses ways that your failures shape your next moves and can in essence be transformed into productive tasks.  While the book does focus on how to better utilize these strategies to increase sales and grow a business the information is definitely useful for non-profits, because we are all bound by a common fixed resource, time.