The vast majority of successful people agree; their time is their most valuable asset. Unlike money, which they can always make more of ,once time is gone, it's gone for good. And the amount of time we get in life is finite. If you are fortunate enough to live to 80, for example, that's 700,800 hours. Sounds like a lot, until you start breaking it down, and then it seems surprisingly short.
Most of us undervalue the time we have. We spend too much time pleasing others rather than ourselves. We waste too many weekends doing nothing but watching TV. And worst of all we get distracted by things that aren’t important far too often.
To live a better life, and yes, even to make more money we all need to focus on the value of our time more. Here are just some simple ways you can do that.
Keep Your Eyes on the Big Picture
Given that we are subject to so many small distractions daily it is easy to lose sight of our 'big picture' in life. Sometimes this is completely unavoidable, if for example, you are dealing with a family or business crisis you have to focus on that first. But most of the time it's the emails, social media and other people's priorities that take our focus away from ourselves and the value of our time.
To help you stay focused on the big picture, ask yourself, What goals do I want to accomplish? What would I regret not achieving? What are your priorities? Answering these questions gives your life purpose. And when you have a purpose, you’ll be motivated to focus and do everything you can to reach your maximum potential.
Make a Plan for Every Day
Sometimes we all think it would be great to wake up and have nothing to do. And sometimes that's OK. If you are on holiday why not just relax and see what the day brings? But it's not a way that life should be lived daily.
By not planning out your days, you can’t make progress on the goals that will help materialize the big picture you have in mind. While you need not plan out every minute of your day, you do need to have some structure around how you spend your time.
Spend Your Free Time More Wisely
To make the most of your time, when you do have free time, try to spend most of it on things that are valuable. Not financially, but personally. Spend more time doing things with friends and family, loved ones, read, learn a new skill, exercise, volunteer. Yes, a day binging Netflix once in a while is fine, but remember that those two hours you spend watching a terrible film just because it came up next are two hours you'll never get back, so even choose your programming carefully!
Make Sure Other People Value Your Time
You should not give your time away to other people too freely. If you do it's almost like if you made deposits to everyone else's bank account but added nothing to your own. The problem here is that we often signal to others that our time is not as valuable as theirs, even if we don't mean to.
Not sure that this applies to you? It does if any of this sounds familiar:
You’re on-call 24/7. Because most of us are so tied to our smartphones, it’s become expected that we answer a text or an email as soon as it’s received. Bit doing so is completely unreasonable. Everyone needs to disconnect sometimes or they will lose their edge.
Make a note to yourself to establish more boundaries. For example, if someone emails you at 7 p.m. on a Wednesday, they know there won’t be a response until later because you've added that to a 'vacation response' that is simple to set up with almost any email client. And start using that do not disturb feature on your phone more often. Callers can break through it if there is a genuine emergency and the time you spend disconnected is time you can work on yourself.
You say “yes” to everything. This is very similar to the last point, and just as unacceptable. If you say yes to every request that is made of you, you are continually putting other people's priorities ahead of your own.
Start saying “no” more often. It’s the simplest way to accomplish your goals. Think of how many times you have said yes to something you really did not want, or need to do. Now start saying no to those kinds of things more often.
You tolerate lateness. Whether you’re meeting a client for lunch or meeting your best friend at a scheduled time, make it clear that being late is not OK. When others don't respect your time it loses value. And you can never afford for that to happen.