We've established that time is not money. But how you spend your time directly affects how much you earn in the business world, and if you want to spend the lion's share of your time in pursuit of profits, you don't have time to waste.
We can't beg, borrow or steal time. We get what we get, and not a minute more
Unfortunately, many businesspeople do just that every day, often habitually.
It doesn't have to be this way.
Here's a quick-and-easy review you can use to decide if you're wasting time and how you can take control of those valuable hours right now. The clock is ticking.
Is time free flowing?
We track dollars in absolute and finite counting methods, and we're careful how and how much we spend. However, we regard time as free flowing and infinite. We don't have to earn it; we just have it to use, day after day.
We can usually earn more money. But we can't beg, borrow or steal time. We get what we get, and not a minute more. It is a finite resource. When our time is up, it's up. Good intentions and grand planning won't gain you anything more.
So how do you know if you're wasting time? See if you're guilty of any of these top five time-wasters.
1. Unproductive daily routines: Whether you mill around the coffee pot, talk about last night's episode of whatever or quickly make your fantasy league picks, the way you spend your time at the start of each day can set the direction for how the rest of your day will go. Wake-up rituals are fine, but you should keep track of exactly how many minutes you're losing before your day even starts.
Some folks choose to do a few productive activities right away, like checking how many orders came in and pulling the respective items, earning them a guilt-free chat with a team member.
Although it feels good to talk about great ideas and winning strategies, they're useless unless they're actionable
2. Persistent distractions: Do you keep a Web window open at all times to monitor Twitter, Facebook or another social media channel? Do you have continual notifications of email received or an instant message popping up to pull your eye away from your work?
Whatever distracts you, it's keeping you from getting your work done. So close the page and shut down the email and messenger. Schedule time for all of these each day, but work to keep them from wasting your entire day.
3. Talking without doing: Perpetual planning. Analysis paralysis. Ready, Aim, Aim. All of these are known as "talking a good strategy but never having the courage to execute it." Whether it's an endless collection of planning meetings or long-winded documents that say a lot, if they don't specify when you'll do something, it's likely a waste of time.
Although it feels good to talk about great ideas and winning strategies, they're useless unless they're actionable, and any time spent that never gets to the "doing" phase is time wasted.
4. Refusal to re-think: A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds. Emerson's adage calls out the assured folly of those who refuse change and refute new revelations, no matter how irrefutable they might be.
If you insist on doing the same things the same way, you'll get the same results. Wasting time adhering to outdated methods and obsolete thinking will be one of the grandest wastes of time, effort, and opportunity.
Block out the morning hours for wrapping up the previous day's leftovers, while teeing up the most important things for this new day ahead
5. Poor planning: Arguably, you could be better off with no planning over poor planning. Each day needs an action plan to ensure you're moving forward on tasks that matter. Free time for free thinking is critical for creative problem solving, but too much talk without an action plan is just that—talk, and it isn't bankable.
Break those bad habits
Managing your time effectively is very much like managing your money. You have to have an approach, you have to take an active role, and you have to operate by checks and balances.
It begins with daily schedules—that means setting distinct times for when you do certain tasks (do the most unpleasant ones first to get them out of the way) and when you'll do your "free thinking" activities.
Block out the morning hours for wrapping up the previous day's leftovers, while teeing up the most important things for this new day ahead. Plan, and take breaks and lunches to keep you from burning out too quickly, but schedule definitive starts and stops. Then try to set up time to research, explore leads and opportunities, and engage your creative juices; this is easiest when you know you have your day's heavy lifting behind you.
Everyone wastes time, at one time or another. It's fine provided you catch yourself before it becomes habit. The time you waste equates to lost opportunities, be it profit bearing or personally rejuvenating. Structure your time and you'll find you get more accomplished, usually with less stress and panic.