Is Time Your Greatest Enemy?

Nearly every business owner and professional service organization I know lacks one major thing, time!

Do you feel like you are always running short on time? Do you feel like time is the one thing you seem unable to control? If you somehow had more time, do you have a list of things that you would do or dreams that you would fulfill? If you were able to better use your time would you feel more successful, less stressed, and overall happier than you do right at this moment?

If I asked you to throw a $20 bill on the ground and walk away you would look at me as though I had a third eye. Yet every time you $pend 15 minutes uselessly and without a conscious decision to do so that is exactly what you are doing, if you are currently earning a little over $160,000 a year. Ok, you say well I don’t earn anywhere near that but if you earn even about $40,000 a year you are throwing a $5 bill away. Would you throw $5 on the sidewalk and let the wind blow it wherever? I seriously doubt it, yet you are easily distracted from something you really want to do for 15 minutes frequently throughout your potentially productive and income generating work day and so are the people who work either with you or for you. According to a new survey by America Online and Salary.com, the average worker admits to frittering away 2.09 hours per 8-hour workday, not including lunch and scheduled break-time.

Research indicates that the internet is a frequently used time waster, but the real question is why do you waste so much valuable time in your work day? One major reason is the attitudes you hold about the value of time. You may currently use, or have used in the past, some form of time tracking system such as Day Runner or Franklin Covey. The system you use isn’t critical just find a system that you like and run with it. The system, however, doesn’t address the true reason that time is such a limited commodity in your life. The truth is you have the same 60 minutes to use each hour as everyone else you just don’t necessarily $pend that 60 minutes in a way that holds the most long-term benefit for you. The reason you $pend your time so effortlessly is that you value your time differently than someone who seems to have time for the things in life that they view as important.

So how can you live your life with the time you want to do the things you want? Start by changing how you think about time. Think of time as a valuable commodity that you choose to $pend rather than an elusive substance that slips away. Recognize that as an adult you choose how you will spend your time at every given moment. Currently you may be allowing other people to decide how you spend your time, if you don’t want to change that then contact me and let me choose how you will spend your money. You wouldn’t dream of doing that so why do you let everyone but you decide how you will $pend your time. Develop a big picture plan for what you want to accomplish, what you will need to do to accomplish it, and what you absolutely must accomplish each day to get there.

Why aren’t you managing your time well now if it’s so easy and you know what you are supposed to do and how to do it? Until your lack of time becomes truly painful to you it is just easier to do what you’ve been doing and keep getting the results you’ve been getting. You may have never stopped to realize just how much a little time here and a little time there is really costing you not only in dollars, but in your ability to fulfill your dreams and reduce your stress. You may have started with some time tracking system previously and found it too difficult to keep up with or you didn’t see an immediate reward for doing all that additional tracking. You may even think that tracking your time is something people who are entirely too anal do and something that a free spirit like yourself wouldn’t be caught dead doing.

When you gain control of your time you feel more successful, you have a whole lot less stress, and your level of happiness increases dramatically. Do you remember those smart kids in elementary school that had time to play after school, time to watch their favorite TV shows, helped with chores, and still got straight A’s in school? If you weren’t one of those kids you probably internally resented them and blamed genes or their natural aptitude for everything in life. Well the hard cold truth is that those kids probably weren’t anymore genetically favored than you were they just had an early role model that helped them to develop time conscious attitudes. As they enjoyed the benefits that those time conscious attitudes provided them they got re-enforcement to continue with those attitudes. This will happen to you once you begin to work on your attitudes as they affect how you use your time. It’s really simple. Your attitudes determine your behaviors and your behaviors determine your results. You really do have that much control over how you will use your time.

So when will you take action to make your time work for you? As you think of how 2 hours that you are currently letting slip away could be used, how would that benefit you? Does 2 more productive hours each day translate into an extra $38,000 of income? Does it mean time to attend your child’s ball game or school event? Does it mean more time to plan your business so that you are working smarter rather than harder? Does it mean working 30 hours a week rather than the 60+ you are working now? Does it mean that you are happier and are more relaxed when you are with the people that are important to you? Sometimes we confuse being busy with being important and successful rather than confessing to the truth, being overly busy just means that I am not using my time wisely and I am short changing myself, my organization, and the people around me. Start today changing your attitudes about how you $pend your time. Time’s a wasting.