If a colleague came to your desk, picked up your wallet and removed $10 without asking you, would you be outraged? Yet, if a colleague came up to you and started asking you about how your weekend went, you would be perfectly okay with it.
In the first scenario, someone took $10 of your money; in the second, someone took ten minutes of your time. You can always earn more money but you will never earn more time.
We do similar things to ourselves. We feel guilty if we go out and spend money on a new device only to find after a few weeks, we are no longer using the device. But we think nothing of spending two hours crawling through our social media feeds looking at nothing in particular.
For many, the belief is money is their greatest asset, but the reality is your greatest asset is time. It doesn’t matter how much money you have if you have no time to enjoy it. You will never be able to take your money with you when you finally run out of time.
What does wasting time really mean? A good way to measure this is to look at how you are spending your time each day.
If you are going through each day aimlessly—waking up at the very last minute, gulping down some coffee, dashing out of the door to go to a job that doesn’t inspire you or take you towards your goals, spending your lunch break complaining to your colleagues about how you hate your job and returning home at the end of the day to sit exhausted on the sofa while consuming hours of pointless entertainment on your TV or phone… you are wasting time.
If you feel your day has been wasted, then it probably was. You are not making the most of your time each day.
Here’s what you can do from now on to stop wasting time:
1. Have a Plan for the Day
The biggest time waste is not having any kind of plan for the day or week. When we don’t have a plan for the day, we just drift through the day reacting to anything that comes our way and not making any progress towards our goals or purpose.
We watch the news and let politicians anger us and then get involved in political discussions with people we don’t know who do not share our views. These ‘discussions’ frustrate us, cause our negative emotions to rise and leaves us feeling angry and empty.
If you stopped and asked yourself why you were getting involved in such discussions, you would probably discover there is no reason at all. It is just a waste of time. You are not likely to persuade a person who does not share your political beliefs to change theirs.
If politics is important to you, then become a politician. If not, stay away from these ‘discussions’. They are not going to change anything and are just a waste of your time.
2. Be Aware of Your ‘Time Sucks’
Being aware of where your ‘time sucks’ are is the first step to making the most of your available time. Starting with the basics, we should be doing work that inspires us. If your current job does not inspire you, investing some time to find a vocation that does inspire you would be a good use of your time.
Watching how much time you are spending on social media is another area to be aware of. Are you spending too much time scrolling through your social media feeds? If so, perhaps you should be limiting the amount of time you spend there each day.
How much time do you spend in front of the TV each day? If your daily routine involves coming home from work, mentally exhausted only to turn on the TV and sit there for the next three of four hours mindlessly watching shows you have no interest in; you are wasting your time.
3. Begin the Day with Intention
If you start the day with intention with a set of meaningful objectives to complete each day, you are maximizing your time.
For example, if you wake up in the morning with a plan to spend thirty minutes exercising, one hour studying Italian and a couple of hours meeting with your friends, you are making good use of your time. (And that’s only three and a half hours of your day!)
Health and fitness, education and relationship building are not wasteful activities. All you need do is to look at your calendar before you go to bed, see where you are going to be the next day and add in the activities you want to do that day.
By completing your objectives for the day, you will feel you have had a meaningful day, and from that will flow a lot of positive energy. It will inspire you to do more of the same the next day.
Having a couple of objectives that improves you as a person, elevates your positive emotions and maintains your health is all you need to make sure you are making the most of your time.
4. Be in a Proactive State
Maximizing your time each day is all about switching from being in a reactive state to being in a proactive state.
A reactive state is where you allow events outside your control to control what you do and how you feel. Consuming social media, negative news, getting involved in pointless debates and allowing email to control what you do each day at work.
A proactive state is where you start the day with intention. You intend to do some exercise, improve your knowledge and you know what work you will do that day. You don’t allow events outside your control affect your mood and you avoid pointless debates about politics, current affairs or celebrity gossip.
If you do not have a plan for the day, you are going to be in a reactive state.
Having a plan for the day does not need to be overly complex. All you need is to select a few activities that will energize you, activities that you will look forward to doing and will improve your life in some way or another.
Starting your workday with the intention to get a stuck project moving forward again, spending thirty minutes outside in nature with no online distractions, just enjoying the freedom being offline for thirty minutes will do so much for your overall wellbeing and giving yourself one hour each day for education—an online course, a book on psychology or learning to beat match on a CDJ.
Just picking a few of these activities to do each day maximizes your time, improves your mood and gives you a sense that you have not wasted your day.
The truth is, we do not have a lot of time. Human life is relatively short and wasting time on online distractions, getting involved in meaningless discussions about things we have no control over, and drifting through our days with no plan or objective is like withdrawing $100 from your bank account each day, and throwing it away in the garbage can.
You can’t afford to do that and you can’t afford to throw away those precious hours we are given every day. You will never get them back.
So, from now on, become aware of how you are spending your days, avoid meaningless discussions about things you have no control over; start the day with a plan – self-education, exercise, relationship building; move towards a proactive state rather than being stuck in a reactive state; and be aware of how limited your time is.
More About Time Management
- 20 Quick Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity
- The Importance of Time Management: 8 Ways It Matters
- How to Gain More Time Like Making Money
Featured photo credit: NeONBRAND via unsplash.com