I am dedicating  this month’s column to something other than coaching, cajoling and editorializing about the real estate industry and its leaders.


We’ve talked many times about procrastination and time management, to the point that I deem it almost redundant to repeat it ever again!


Yet, recently my wife and I listened attentively as one of our Rabbis addressed the congregation on the topic of How Do You Measure Time?


She caught the congregation’s attention with the lyrics of Seasons of Love:


Five hundred twenty-five thousand, six hundred minutes. How do you measure a year in the life?’

525,600 minutes

Moments so dear…how do you measure a year?

In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee, in inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife…how do you measure a year in the life?


As we approach 2007, we have an opportunity to decide what the year will teach us.  How will we spend our days and our time? What values will fill our hours?


Joshua Herschel taught “that unlike the space-minded man to who all time is unvaried, iterative, and homogenous, to whom all hours are alike, qualities, empty shells. There are no two hours alike…each is unique and the only one given at the moment, exclusive and endlessly precious.”


Whoever and wherever we came from, our ancestors at one time or another experienced slavery of some sort.  Now we are slaves to work. We need to work and we do. But is it necessary to work seven days a week?  Six days of the week are filled with imaginative and creative possibilities. 


We live in a world that is speeding by.  We plan weeks in advance to have get-togethers with friends because our schedules are so full. We turn to our Blackberrys and our Palms, searching for a spare time slot. Are your days spent crossing off things in your To Do list?

Let me illustrate from the address that my wife and listened to recently.  

There is a simple, magical book called Momo by Michael Ende.  It appeals to children, but it had a theme that concerns all of us.


It is a story of Momo, a homeless waif. The neighbours decide to take care of her and she takes care of them by listening to them. This has a magical effect because she actually hears what they say and they discover the roots of their problems.


The villains in the story are Gray Men, guys in gray suits who live off stolen time.  In order to perpetuate themselves, they visit people with free time and encourage them to become “timesavers.”


The Gray Men’s sales pitch: All saved time goes into Timesavers Bank, where it will earn interest.  So if people will work harder and longer, it will repay them with a wonderful tomorrow.  Any visits from the Gray Men are instantly forgettable as they are blank and boring.


So, the city becomes a bustling metropolis full of overworked and unhappy people who can’t remember why they chose to work this way.


Momo is a thorn in the side of the Gray Men, because she has all the time she wants and knows how to enjoy it.


Who and what are the men in gray suits willing to take the joy out of your days?   Each of us has the shadow of a time thief behind us.


This is the time of year for each of us to re-evaluate the gift of time and what it is that we live for.  Candlelit dinners are not an extravagance.  Just having coffee with friends is not something to be jammed between important meetings, but is an important meeting of minds and hearts and a sharing of that which is precious with someone special.  Having dinner with friends and family is not a chore, but is an opportunity for connection.


The Psalmist says: “How precious time.”(Psalm 90) “Teach us to count our days rightly that we may obtain a wise heart.”


Let’s spend more time looking at the beauty of the world, in spite of all that swirls around us on the global plane. 


We should be asking ourselves this: if each of us have the same number of hours and days in the week and the same number of months in the year, how do we deal with the time given to us?


A close friend of mine said that there’s conclusive proof that if time is well spent, the following will result: Goals will be attained.  Things to be done that really matter will happen.  Our families and friends will be well served by completing and accomplishing tasks, without any undue pressure from the “Gray Men.”


Most of us would like to subscribe to the theme of this article, save but for the “Gray Men.”  We can’t eliminate them completely, they will always be there.


But just think of the joy and the satisfaction of completing the smallest of tasks that would please you and your family. Maybe you could make this a new year’s resolution – in addition to going back to the gym and going on a diet!


May you all have a joyous celebration with family, friends and colleagues this holiday season, and a healthy and prosperous 2007!


Author’s note: With kind acknowledgement to Rabbi Lori Cohen, TempleSinai, Toronto, for her kind permission to reprint her meaningful and sincere message.


Stan Albert is celebrating his 35th year in active real estate. He serves on the Complaints, Compliance and Discipline Committee at RECO, and on two committees at the Toronto Real Estate Board. He is a trainer and business consultant and can be reached at [email protected].


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