Time Can Be On Your Side

CompassWhen you hear the words spend and invest, you may automatically think of money. What if you applied those words to time? You would look at time in a very different way.

Spend represents depletion, exhaustion, using up something. It can have a negative connotation. “I spent two full days preparing this report.” It’s time that you will never again have. The blessing – and the curse – of time is that those moments never again return.

Invest reflects a forward intention, movement, planning, strategic thinking. “I invested my time in a spiritual retreat over the weekend.” Investing one’s time symbolizes some benefit, a return on that investment in the future.

Do you have a negative relationship with time (dislike)? or Do you have a positive relationship with time (love)? Is time your enemy or your friend?

If you have a dislike relationship with time, most often you feel like you are continually running out of time, trying to do too much with too little time, finding yourself angry at the time gods each night when you go to sleep (if you’re even getting much sleep).

If you have a love affair with time, you most likely feel complete and fulfilled each day rather than depleted. You know how to pace the work you do and balance it with leisure activities that reconnect you with yourself and loved ones.

Reality check: Most people feel like they don’t have enough hours in the day. You are not alone!

What is your attitude towards time? Do you love it or dislike it? Does it work to your advantage or disadvantage?

If time is currently your enemy (you feel like you never have enough time), then how can you shift your thinking and actions so that you feel like you have enough time each day?

Here are a few suggestions:

Ask. If time is your enemy, ask why.

Assess. Take stock of the things you need to get done in a certain period of time. Are there times of the week, month or year when you feel more of a time crunch (like weekly reporting, monthly sales numbers or at annual tax time)? Are there times of the week, month or year when you feel like you have all the time in the world (annual meeting is over, the sales cycle has ended, new hires are all in place)?

Prioritize. Decide – and do – the most important work first. If you have a performance review scheduled with your boss tomorrow and a monthly report due in three days, which do you prepare for first? The boss, of course.

Delegate. Ask (or hire) someone to help you with small or large tasks, short-term or long-term projects. You may have added some personal burdens that people may not know about, like caring for an aging parent. I don’t know what it is about human nature…we are all so afraid to ask for help. Does it come from that little kid inside of us who – at an early age – wanted to demonstrate how grown up we were by announcing, “I can do it myself!” It is a sign of strength, not weakness, when you know your limitations and ask for help.

Chunk it. Large projects and tasks can be overwhelming. Break down any large assignment into smaller pieces. It’s easier to work on a small part of something big rather than to tackle it all at once.

Do it now.┬áBy the time you finish thinking about doing something, you could have gotten it done. The minute you hear yourself saying, “I’ll do that tomorrow,” stop, and ask yourself how long it would take to do it today. Chances are, if you do it today, you’ll sleep better.

Enjoy it. Bertrand Russell said it best: “The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.” Learn to fill minutes – even hours and days – with time that allows you to enjoy the present moment, whatever it is.

Shifting from disliking time to loving time requires a small investment of your time and attention.