If you are not aware that this universal asset is highly precious, you may be in danger of squandering it. This post takes a look at the number one resource we all have access to but often misuse.
When I was newly married, I ran a music agency. It became quite a successful music agency. So much so, that I didn’t have enough quality musicians to fill some of the work that was coming in. In fact, during the peak of my business, typing ‘jazz band’ into Google would have resulted in my agency as one of the top five results.
But when I started the business, I had no idea what I was doing. In fact, I would often swear that I was completely busy, but have no idea where I spent my time. My husband would come home from teaching and ask how my day was. “Busy!” I’d emphatically respond. But that ‘busy’ probably included organising my rubber bands by colour and size. Or browsing 500 fonts to use on my next promotional flyer.
I was not good at using my time well. My husband knew it. And I guess somewhere deep down I knew it too, but I wasn’t ready to admit it.
Time is Precious
Fast forward some ten years and my days are very different. I’ve added three kids to the mix, a singing career and a blog.
Having the time for this or that means something very different to me now. Each moment is precious. Each hour is valuable. This doesn’t mean that I’m hands down the best person at using my time. I still falter and dawdle and procrastinate.
But I’m acutely aware that this number one resource – time – is very limited. Very finite. And very short.
The thing is, we are all blessed with the same 24 hours in a day. But we won’t all use it the same way.
And what’s more, the time we didn’t use well we won’t ever get back. Ever.
Time is the unfeeling, unprejudiced giver of opportunity and placater of pain.
In this post, I want to look a little further into the former. At how time is an unprejudiced giver of opportunity.
It doesn’t matter who you are, you have the same amount of time as I do. Whether you’re the Queen of England or the baker down the street.
This is your starting point. It doesn’t mean that we all have the same amount of available time. But that our canvases for each day are all the same size.
How you and I use these ‘canvases of time’ will vary in the same way different artists prefer different brush strokes or colours. And at the end of the day, our canvases will be a reflection of how we used our day.If you want pictures you can be proud of, you'll need to pay attention to how you 'paint' all day long.Click To Tweet
And if you want a lifetime masterpiece you can be proud of, you need to be intentional with your daily canvases of time.
Pay Attention To How You Currently Use Your Time
A retrospective approach is to keep a log of the activities you do throughout the day. Apps such as Workflow Timer, Life Cycle or ATracker can help with tracking the activities you do. Or you can use a printable like this free one here.
Why would you want to do this? Firstly, tracking how you are currently using your time will shed a bright light on where you are wasting your number one resource. And what activities you should stop altogether, batch or even delegate.
Before you can diagnose, you need to assess. Keeping a log is a useful way to assess how you are currently using your time. And from there, you can make changes to suit.
Don’t get too bogged down by this stage, however. It’s easy to make this into a huge procrastinating spree by trying out different apps or approaches. Don’t do that.
This step is simple. Make a note of what you’ve just been doing. Do this all day long. Do this for seven days in a row if you can. And then stop. You’ll be left with an image of what you’ve been doing with your time. The good, the bad and the ugly.
Pay Attention to How You Want to Use Your Time
You may have already decided that you don’t want to be wasting your number one resource. But what you decide to do with your time might be trickier to identify.
The truth is, you can only know how you want to use your time if you know what your priorities are.
Since time is our most valuable asset, how we spend it will be an indication of the things we value most. Just as we happily spend money on the things we love, we should spend time in a similar manner.Identifying the things you value most will direct you towards where you should be spending your time.Click To Tweet
Being in Time Debt
Let’s return to the money analogy I mentioned just before. Some people don’t spend a majority of their money on the things they love. And if they’re in debt, then they might be seeing a huge chunk of their money go back to their creditors. They just don’t have the financial freedom to spend their money on the things they love because they’re financially committed elsewhere.
Using your time can look a lot like this too. For example, you may not have an entire 24 hour day to devote to the things you love, and if you’re in ‘time debt’ you might consider yourself lucky if you manage to get thirty minutes just to sit down and read.
What do I mean by ‘time debt’? I mean being temporally committed elsewhere. Not temporarily, but temporally. Just as you can be financially committed to something, you can also be temporally committed to something. That means that your time is committed to something and needs to be used for whatever you’ve committed yourself to. You just can’t use that time for whatever you want because that time is already spoken for. Just like being in debt.
Getting out of Time Debt
Getting out of time debt is thankfully similar to getting out of financial debt, and hopefully not as lengthy a process.
1. Firstly, you need to acknowledge that you are in ‘time debt’. That you are temporally committed to too many things.
2. Secondly, you need to know where the debts are. Your ‘time debts’ will most likely be in areas that are not a priority for you. So going back to the point I made a couple sections ago about paying attention to how you want to use your time. Knowing your priorities will help you assess whether your current commitments are on things you love and want to prioritise. Or whether they are ‘time debtors’ – things you don’t love and would like to be free from.
3. Thirdly, you need to relinquish any ‘time debtors’. You can do this by pulling out of these commitments. Giving notice to whoever you might need to notify. Or just deciding to not spend your time on those things anymore.
Yes, getting out of time debt should not take as long as getting out of a burdening financial debt. And that is a true blessing. Because we can never get back this number one resource, it’s encouraging to know that you can go from being in overwhelming ‘time debt’ to being more in control of how you spend your time rather quickly.
Acknowledge how you currently use your time. Is it in line with your priorities? Do you spend your time on the things you love? Do you have any ‘time debtors’ that you need to be released from?
You and I are not getting any younger, we need to be purposeful with how we use our number one resource. And create canvases of time we can be proud of!
Download this free printable and start getting intentional with your time.