Case Study: Manage your time well

Always manage your campaign's time well

Always manage your campaign's time well

Managing your time is an important part of running for office. Simplified, campaigns are made up of three elements: time, talent and treasure. Time is the one piece of the three you can't get back. 

In his 1990 memoir In The Arena, Richard Nixon offers a lot of campaign advice. Nixon, despite his faults, was an exceptional campaigner. He worked as hard as anyone, and he was smart about how he campaigned. 

Here's an anecdote he offered in the book about time management (advice he admittedly failed to take before his first debate with Kennedy in 1960): 

Wendell Willkie was one of the most charismatic candidates every nominated by either party. He was an excellent campaigner. He was smart and tough, and when he ran against FDR in 1940 he had what many thought was a surefire issue--the no-third-term tradition. His one fatal weakness was that he could not say no, and would not let someone else say no for him when it came to allocating his time. 

He wowed audiences of thousands at whistle-stops throughout the day. At each one, he captivated the hundreds of individuals who would come up to shake his hand. By the ned of the day, he was exhausted. By the end of the campaign, his voice was gone. When he was talking to millions on radio in the closing day s of the campaign, he could only croak out the words. 

Because he was President and because of his physical disability, Roosevelt limited his public appearances and was gangbusters when he went on radio. Willkie probably would have lost anyway. But if he had planned his time in order to be fully rested when he was talking to millions rather than just thousands or hundreds, it might have made a difference. (p. 121-122)

How does this apply to your campaign? You're obviously not going to be doing whistle stop tours and traveling to a half-dozen cities a day by plane. 

But late in the campaign, you will have to do editorial board meetings. You will likely have a debate or two. And you may get an opportunity to interview for radio or television.

Manage your time well. Have your campaign supporters help you identify which events matter, and which you can politely decline. And get a good night's sleep before that ed board meeting. 

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