You surely heard the phrase: Time is Money. We may agree, but in practical terms, are you one of those people who turn around any penny you spend, but you do not think much about how you are spending your time? Do you try to do everything at the same time, but at the end you are frustrated that there are not enough hours in the day, and you catch yourself saying: I have no time? I think it is on the time to think about budgeting our time.
If you are successful, you are able to earn more money, but there is something that not even a millionaire has more than you, and this is time. Everybody has 24 hours a day. Time is a finite resource. If you think about your time, you need to think how you want to invest it the most effective way. Are you smart in investing your money? Now think about the return of investment you will get from your time. Where are you going to invest it the most sensible way? This phrase gets it to the point:
Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.William Penn
President Eisenhower had an interesting approach to time management. He organized all his tasks in four quadrants: urgent or not urgent, important or not important. The urgent and important quadrant is the one you should give your priority.
There are some tasks that are important but not urgent, like your continual education for example. They will be coming right next in the priority list, and you should schedule a regular time for them each week, so that you make continual progress on something that will give you a better position in the future.
Now the urgent but not important category, you need to evaluate carefully if they are worth your time. Some tasks you may be able to delegate. Others you may drop from your list. You need to learn to focus on items that make the biggest difference at the end. The list of neither urgent nor not important items, you better store away for a day that you have really nothing else to do, but do not let your mind dwell on them.
I have heard another approach that can be quite interesting as well. You define 2 or 3 projects that you want to work on for this week or the near future. Those are the things that need your full attention at this moment. Then you have 3 or 4 projects that you target as next on the list. You may do a little bit of preparation to get the ball rolling, or you may start to work on them if you have some time left, but they are not your top priority for now. Everything else will go into the Maybe Later list, and you do not need to even think about them. Whatever method you use, you need to have a clear criteria, what is the priority for you to tackle at this exact moment.
Invest your Time Wisely
Think about your time as an investment. You need to think, what investment will give you the best returns. Think about sleep for example. If you sleep the hours you need, you will be energized the next day to tackle the tasks at hand with efficiency. If your cut your corners on sleep, your performance will suffer.
It is actually a wise move to go to bed early and rise early, in order to start your most important tasks when your mind is fresh in the early morning hours. We know that one hour of sleep before midnight is worth two hours of sleep after midnight. So it is a wise investment to go to bed with the chicken and get the greatest benefit from your sleep time.
Be sure to start your day right. When you wake up, spend some time in the presence with God, so He can give you some insights for the day. You will see that things will flow differently when you are doing that. Be sure to get a good breakfast without any rush, because a substantial meal in the morning will give you the energy you need to start the day right.
Exercise is another time investment that will pay you high dividends. If you put in half an hour of vigorous exercise every day, it will surely safe you an hour or two while you work with more efficiency, plus you will put some time in your savings account, since it can prolong your live for several years. Talk about a wise investment!
Automation can be another investment that can pay you high dividends. Why do you need to tackle your payments every month, when you can automate them? It takes you once to set it up, but then you will never need to think about it again!
Budget Your Time
Like you have a budget for your expenses, you should have a budget on your time. When making a purchase, many people will be out to search for the best deal, instead of reflecting first: Do I really need this?
The same is true for time management. Most people will teach you how you can do your tasks the most effective way in order to save a minute here and get done more in your day. Instead of this, you should look at your schedule fist and reflect if you should not simply stop many of the activities you are doing.
Any commitment you make, think first if it is really worth your investment. What are your fist priorities? Your family? Your friends? Making a difference in your community? And at your work, what can make the biggest impact? Cut out some activities that are not essential and do not contribute to the advancement of your priorities.
Every activity you are planning to do, you need to estimate how much time it will take you. If it is something you have done in the past, you will have a good indicator how long it will take you. If it is something you never did before, you need to break it down in different steps, and estimate every step how long it will take you. Your estimate will be more accurate this way.
After having quantified your time investment, you need to evaluate if it is worth it, the same way you look at a product in the store to think if it is worth that price. Next you need to schedule the time in your calendar. If you do not have the time available, you need to either decline the commitment, or you need to drop off some low priority activities you have already scheduled in your calendar. Doing your proper planning can help to avoid a lot of surprises on the way, and will maximize the impact you can achieve with your limited time.
Track your Time
There are many ways you can track your time. Some apps can track your activities you do on the computer. Some people like a Fitbit watch that will track their sleep, their exercise and various other activities during the day. Some do a simple feedback on the end of your day, while others like to use an app to do a more sophisticated evaluations of their time. Tracking style can vary, but you should be conscious on how you are using your time.
It happens so often that we are just quickly looking something up on the internet, and before we realize, we have spent an hour surfing around without any purpose. Multitasking is another thing that was increasing greatly in the digital era. On average we are checking every 6 minutes on emails and instant messaging. That is draining your productivity. You need to get into the habit of being focused on one task, and when you are done, you can have a look whether somebody was writing you on messenger.
According to studies, an internet user is spending on average 2:25 hours a day on social media.1)Daily time spent on social networking by internet users worldwide from 2012 to 2020. Statistica You add to that almost 3 hours of TV time per day, and you see quickly why we have no time left.2)Average daily time spent watching TV in the United States from 2014 to 2023. Statistica
Start to reflect on your habits. Are the 2 hours of scrolling the infinite feed of Facebook really well spent? And when you watch a video on YouTube, how many suggested videos you end up binge watching afterwards? Is this time really well invested, or are there other activities that would be really worth your time?
Do you have no time to play with your kids? Are you wanting to start a hobby for a long time? You are thinking to learn a new language? You want to learn an instrument that you desired to play since you were a kid? I have just freed you up 5 hours a day to do all of that if you want.
Be Realistic in Your Expectations
It is interesting to see how times have changed. When a hundred years ago, a farmer was plowing a field, it may have taken him a day or two, and another week for planting, but at the end he was looking back at his work and he was satisfied with his accomplishments.
Nowadays things are going faster. A tractor will plow the field within an hour, and an email can go around the globe within seconds. Things are moving much faster. But with that we have also different expectations. If we have no time, because we have overcommitted ourselves.
Our changed expectations will also show up in our homes. While the farmer’s wife was not worried about the dirty kitchen floor while cooking lunch, our kitchen today needs to be sparkling clean. The house got bigger, consuming more time for cleaning and maintenance, and the yard needs to be perfectly cared as well. Think about this statement:
Life is a disappointment and a weariness to many persons because of the unnecessary labor with which they burden themselves in meeting the claims of custom. Their minds are continually harassed with anxiety as to supplying wants which are the offspring of pride and fashion…
The sweet word “Home” is perverted to mean “something with four walls, filled with elegant furniture and adornments,” while its inmates are on a continual strain to meet the requirements of custom in the different departments of life.3)Ellen White, The Adventist Home p. 150
I think it is time to make some adjustment on our expectations. Not everything needs to be perfect, and normally simpler is better.
Better Done than Perfect
We can roughly divide people in two groups: Maximisers and Satisficers. Maximizers are a tribe of perfectionists. If they buy a new phone, they will study all the available reviews for a week, and try to purchase the very best. And even then, they are still concerned whether they have made the right choice.
A satisficer at the other hand will walk into the store, look for the first phone that looks right, asks the dealer if it does what he is looking for and purchase it on the spot.
When it comes to answer an email, the maximiser will investigate the question he was asked, try to write a lengthy response, rewrite it three times to formulate it better, getting all the punctuation right and sending it out when he thinks it is perfect. The satisficer will simply throw in a quick response, maybe not even write a complete phrase, and hoping that it answers the question he was asked for, because if not, they will ask back anyways.
It is easy to see that the satisficer will get much more done in a shorter time, and he will feel more satisfaction on the end of the day. I guess it is important to find a healthy balance between the two. We need to learn to invest our time where it matters most. If my work can really have an impact, it is worthwhile to invest some more time, but when it comes to writing an email, we better get it over, so we can make time for things that really count. And even on the impactful projects, sometimes it is better to get it out and improve later, then to try to make it perfect and never get done.
Plan Your Week
When you are planning your week, you want to look at the bigger picture. You think about maybe 2 or 3 major projects to tackle and schedule their time. You also want to block out some time for essential goals that are not in the urgent category.
Then you look at your last week. You have scheduled anything that was left undone? Next look at the upcoming meetings and commitments that you have scheduled. Are they still your priorities? If not, you can decline or reschedule some of them.
And do not fill up your schedule to the maximum. Some tasks may take you longer than planned, and unexpected surprises are coming up all the time. Maybe keep some time open on Friday to catch up with things you could not get done during the week. This way you can get into the weekend with a satisfaction that you have accomplished your goals.
When starting out in the morning, you need to spend a few minutes to get on track with your operating plan of the day. Is there anything left undone from the day before? What meetings do you have scheduled? Was there anything new coming up that needs to be treated with urgency? What are your top priorities?
Plans are important, but they are not set in stone, so you need to always recalibrate to reach your goals. But having something sketched out on paper, helps you to be more efficient in order to accomplish your priorities.
Get in Alignment with Your Passions
In a study of more than 3000 working people, researchers found out that those who were passionate about what they were doing, did feel less of a time pressure.4)Jachimowicz J et.al. Why Passionate Employees Can Have It All: Passion Lowers Time Stress by Enhancing Goal Integration. https://psyarxiv.com/qd2zf/ It is not so much about how long the activity takes, but more of how much you enjoy it. A sense of accomplishment did mean that they did not feel that their time was wasted.
Researchers found also that some people perceived activities as competing for their time. For example, they felt that engaging themselves in the company was conflicting with coming home in time for dinner. Passionate workers on the other hand felt that activities were complementing, since a healthy meal at home with family was giving them more energy for the next day’s work.
Get Divine Wisdom
You have done everything and you are still struggling to make ends meet in your schedule? Is there an emergency coming up and you don’t know how to handle it? James was giving us an interesting counsel many years ago:
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.5)The Bible, James 1:5, NKJV
If you are on a tight spot, you can always turn to God, and He will give you wisdom on how to deal with your situation. So often He is able to show us the right priorities, or what to do to avoid being stressed out about our day. And He has promised to be on your side as your Heavenly Father. Jesus gave us another wonderful promise:
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.6)The Bible, Matthew 11:28.29
We do not need to resolve everything on our own. If there is something burdening you, then you can bring it to Jesus and he promised to help you. When you do not know whether you should take up a commitment, have a conversation with Jesus and ask him if he wants you to do this, or pass it on. Understand the purpose that God has for your life. Then you will have a clearer picture on how you can make really the best of every hour that God has given to you.
Do you need a guide to help you understand how to cope with Stress in an all inclusive approach? Learn how to combat stress, mentally, physically, emotionally and strategically in your life.
Martin Neumann was trained for Lifestyle Interventions in 1998 at Wildwood Lifestyle Center & Hospital. Since then he has lectured in different parts of the world about a healthy lifestyle and natural remedies. He is the founder of the Abundant Health website.
|↑1||Daily time spent on social networking by internet users worldwide from 2012 to 2020. Statistica|
|↑2||Average daily time spent watching TV in the United States from 2014 to 2023. Statistica|
|↑3||Ellen White, The Adventist Home p. 150|
|↑4||Jachimowicz J et.al. Why Passionate Employees Can Have It All: Passion Lowers Time Stress by Enhancing Goal Integration. https://psyarxiv.com/qd2zf/|
|↑5||The Bible, James 1:5, NKJV|
|↑6||The Bible, Matthew 11:28.29|