We all have enough time to do just about anything we want. We can start businesses, open a restaurant, become painters, or learn how to play pickleball. But we don’t have time to waste.
If you’re interested in succeeding in life, you’ve got to stop wasting time.
Most people aren’t aware of how much time they waste; I know I wasn’t.
If we’re not careful, there’s an ever-growing list of new companies, games, platforms, etc, that are interested in consuming as much of our time as we’ll allow.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics has a lot of great information about how we (Americans) spend time.
Over 75% of Americans are gamers, and play for an average of almost 15 hours a week.
Around 20% of Americans play fantasy football, and spend an average of 8 hours a week on it.
We spend over five hours a day on our phones, two and a half hours a day on social media, just over three hours a day watching TV, 67 minutes a day eating, and just under 60 minutes commuting to work.
After reading that, I thought, “I bet we aren’t sleeping at all.” I was wrong. The average American is getting 8.5 hours a night.
To make matters worse, it’s been proven that our minds wander almost 50% of the time. So, what little time we have to be focused on productive things, we’re only really doing it for half that amount.
What is a waste of time and what’s a productive use of it?
Like beauty, that’s in the eye of the beholder.
My desire is to make you aware of the challenges we’re facing regarding time and to give you some practical tools for spending yours differently, should you choose to do so.
- What does succeeding in life mean to you?
- Do you know how you’re spending your time?
- Honor and protect your time
- Does it all fit?
Let’s get started.
What does succeeding in life mean to you?
Is this (whatever I’m doing) a waste of my time? Maybe. Maybe not.
In order to be able to answer that, you’ve got to know what your ultimate goal(s) is. Once you’ve gotten clear on that, you can start to drill down and determine if a specific activity is aligned or not. Meaning, is it a waste of time or isn’t it.
What does succeeding in life mean to you? If that sounds like a big question, it is.
If success means getting by, then playing video games for 15 hours a week is a great use of your time.
If success means operating a successful business, then video games may need to take a back seat to other priorities.
I encourage you to think about what you’re working to accomplish in these six areas:
- Career and finances
- Personal development
- Peace of mind
Getting clarity around your goals will help inform the highest and best use of your time.
If you’d like to dig deeper into this, you can access our Goals Course at no-cost.
Do you know how you’re spending your time?
A big part of success and getting things done is awareness. It’s knowing when you’re being productive, when you’re not, and when it’s time to take a break or be done for the day.
The next part of that is being honest with yourself. If I’m not in the right headspace and am trying to force myself to be productive when I need a break, I work hard to recognize that. Once I realize I’m pushing a rope, I stop lying to myself and go and do something else.
I’ve found one of the most difficult things for people to do is be honest about how they’re spending their time. Sometimes people are embarrassed, sometimes they’re afraid to look, and sometimes they just don’t want to know.
The reality is, the only way to know if you’re wasting time is to look at how you’re spending it.
To audit your time use, schedule two daily check-ins. One will be at noon, and one at 5pm.
At noon, get out a piece of paper and write down how you spent your morning. I encourage you to break time into 15 minute increments.
Do this again at 5pm, and you’ll have a pretty good idea of how you spent your time..
Honor and protect your time
Parkinson’s Law tells us that work expands or contracts to fill the time available for its completion. If you give yourself all day to make 20 calls, it will probably take you all day to do it. On the other hand, if you gave yourself an hour to make those same 20 calls, you’d probably get them done in an hour.
In an effort to honor and protect your time, you must first determine what your most important activities are.
Go back to the six key areas you went through earlier and think about everything you do in service of them.
Start with the absolute essentials like family and work obligations. If not already there, put them into your calendar.
Next, non-essential but high-priority activities. Put them into your calendar.
Self-care should be an important part of your daily and weekly schedule. Whatever those activities are is up to you.
Leisure activities should get filled in last, wherever room can be found for them.
Does it all fit?
Odds are, it won’t all fit.
If you’re pursuing a life of success and significance, there probably won’t also be time for two hours of daily gaming and or three hours of TV.
This is all about prioritizing your life and your time.
Once you decide what you want your life to be, you need to become ruthless in how you’re spending it.
We’ve got enough time to do almost anything we want, but not enough time to waste.
It’s healthy and OK to have leisure time activities, and to give yourself time to unwind. But it’s not OK to mindlessly waste time.
I want to close with this wonderful piece entitled The Bank of Time:
Imagine there is a bank account that credits your account each morning with £86,400. It carries over no balance from day to day.
Every evening the bank deletes whatever part of the balance you failed to use during the day. What would you do? Draw out every penny, of course?
Each of us has such a bank. Its name is TIME.
Every morning, it credits you with 86,400 seconds.
Every night it writes off as lost, whatever of this you have failed to invest to a good purpose.
It carries over no balance. It allows no over draft. Each day it opens a new account for you. Each night it burns the remains of the day.
If you fail to use the day’s deposits, the loss is yours. There is no drawing against “tomorrow.”
You must live in the present on today’s deposits. Invest it so as to get from it the utmost in health, happiness and success!
The clock is running!! Make the most of today.
To realize the value of ONE YEAR, ask a student who failed a grade.
To realize the value of ONE MONTH, ask a mother who has given birth to a premature baby.
To realize the value of ONE WEEK, ask the editor of a weekly newspaper.
To realize the value of ONE HOUR, ask the lovers who are waiting to meet.
To realize the value of ONE MINUTE, ask a person who just missed a train.
To realize the value of ONE SECOND, ask someone who just avoided an accident.
To realize the value of ONE MILLISECOND, ask the person who won a silver medal at the Olympics.
Treasure every moment that you have! And treasure it more because you shared it with someone special, special enough to spend your time with. And remember time waits for no one.
Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present.
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