"The present time has one advantage over every other—it is our own.” — Charles Caleb Colton
We all have varying amounts of time, but the only time we possess is now, and what we do now highly influences our future. So often, many of us underappreciate our time and don’t use it as wisely as we could. With only a limited amount, you would think that we’d give our time a higher value. Nonetheless, we spend it waiting, worrying, and hoping.
Instead of giving your time away to inaction, start putting it into action. Appreciate your seconds for the valuable resource that they are. Begin taking your time (and others’) more seriously and using it more carefully.
Where are you going?
Determining your goals is crucial to valuing your time appropriately. Without direction or a specific destination, it’s hard to plot a course and calculate an ETA. Once you know where you want to go with your life, figure out the steps you need to take to get there. Then do the research and find out how long each step might take. With a detailed game plan, you’re more likely to use time efficiently and skip detours that don’t contribute to your goals.
Do you have the energy?
Using your time wisely requires the ability to think clearly and function properly. To do those things, you must give yourself the proper rest and nutrition. Don’t try to save your time by sacrificing sleep or meals. If you miss sleep, most of your day will be spent thinking about getting back to bed. And we all know what it feels like to skip a meal and try to focus with a growling stomach … hunger is distracting. Remember, rest and nourishment are time well spent.
Values add value.
Certain tasks and chores have the tendency to make you feel like you’re wasting precious minutes. To reduce this feeling, ensure that your to-dos align with your values. If you don’t know what your values are, it’s time to establish them. Identifying personal values helps you decide what actions and choices you stand by. And when you stand behind a choice or an action, it doesn’t feel like a waste of time. Instead, it becomes a task that must be completed to feel fulfilled and authentic to your values.
Perfection isn't real.
Some things just need to get done. We worry so much about making them perfect that we waste time nitpicking every tiny detail. In some cases the details do matter. In other instances, you’ll spend hours trying to refine something that doesn’t need refining. Knowing when to refine and when to move on is a skill that is underrated and one that everyone should work on. If you struggle with perfectionism and can’t seem to let it go, these tips are a great place to start!
You can't do everything.
It’s tempting to want to do everything, right? At some point, you’ve probably wanted to become proficient in more skill than one. Although it would be amazing to learn how to play the piano, speak Spanish, and design websites, all at once, it’s unrealistic. Nobody is saying that you can’t do those things, but if those are really goals of yours, you’re better off taking them one at a time. In tackling each goal one at a time, you allow your brain to fully focus on each, which makes the learning process more efficient. After all, it’s hard to memorize two (or three) unrelated subjects at once.
This concept doesn’t only apply to learning new skills. Remember to try not to overwhelm yourself. If your workload is filled to the brim, don’t take on another task when you know you can’t complete it. When someone asks if you can do something for them, and you’re positive that you don’t have the time, it’s okay to say “no.” But please make sure to say it in a kind and polite way!
Respect others' time, too!
In addition to valuing your own time, you should also respect the value of other people’s time. You’re not the only person who has a lot on their plate. If someone offers their help in any way, let them know how appreciative you are. Show them that their time was not wasted by offering to return the favor. Whether you lend a hand when they need help or just offer words of gratitude, they’ll know that the expense of their time did not go unnoticed. Other ways to show that you value other people’s time include:
- Arriving on time (or earlier) for meetings and appointments.
- Being open and honest instead of beating around the bush.
- Getting rid of distractions during conversations.
- Showing up to your meetings prepared.
- Respecting boundaries (don’t call someone in the middle of the night).
- Completing your work in a timely fashion.
- Making requests in advance instead of at the last minute.
- Sticking to scheduled time parameters in meetings.
These actions will demonstrate that you care about others enough to respect the time that they set aside for you.
Time + Intention = Happiness
No matter how much time you have, use it with intention. Focus on spending time in a way that gets you closer to achieving your goals. And if you’ve got minutes to spare, help someone else get closer to theirs!