Time is our most precious resource. We each receive the same supply of this resource each day—24 hours or 1,440 minutes. Do you view time as a resource that is spent or as a resource that is invested?
For more than a decade, I have chosen to work dual careers as an executive assistant and a college educator. It’s no exaggeration that my free time is limited and even more so with launching two businesses in 2014, accepting leadership positions in associations, and volunteering weekly in a local non-profit organization. When my head hits the pillow each night, there is no doubt my days are fulfilling, purposeful, and great fun!
Years ago one of my college professors provided the class with an assignment to track how we spent each ½ hour segment of the day for seven days. The assignment looked relatively close to what you see below starting at 5 a.m. and ending at midnight each day:
The purpose of this assignment was for individuals to be aware of how they used their time. As I evaluated this assignment, I asked myself these questions:
- Are you spending your time investing in activities that have value and offer a good rate of return? (Believe me, I am mindful that we all need breaks, but our day does not have to be consumed with television, video games, complaining, Web surfing, and over sleeping.)
- Are you investing your time in areas that will improve you personally or professionally?
- Are you spending your time focused on the “future” vs. “only living in the present?”
After completing this homework assignment and answering these questions, I was reminded that it was my responsibility to own how I was managing my time.
As I plan my day and the upcoming week, I choose to be very purposeful and deliberate about how I spend my time. At the core of each day I use my time to invest in and strengthen relationships with family, friends, and coworkers. I am focused on helping my employers to be successful. As an educator, I am dedicated to developing and increasing the skills and effectiveness of today’s future and current workforce. I schedule time to make sure I take care of my personal wellness. I am keenly aware of the self-discipline required to manage my time effectively to accomplish career and personal goals.
Through thoughtful evaluation I have learned to avoid significant timewasters. What has worked for me over the years is to create a tentative plan for the day and week including downtime and allowing myself permission to deviate from the plan when needed. Through adequate planning stress can be lessened, timewasters can be evaluated and decreased, and our time can be better invested in activities that will enrich our lives.