Is it time to value your time?
Last weekend, I went to the Auckland Zoo on probably the worst day being the long weekend with the Labour Day holiday. On entering the zoo, I noticed a queue of over 100 people waiting patiently in the hot sun to get tickets so their kids and families can get to see the animals at play.
What I did notice was there there were about eight ticketing windows available but only two were open with people issuing tickets. This was a great example of traffic bottleneck and lack of preparation for the mad rush by the zoo authorities. It gave me a lot to think about and one of the key questions I asked myself, “how much value do I give my time?”
Is it something that I can truly waste on waiting in queues at zoos, restaurants, concerts and traffic or should I be more proactive with my time management so I get the most out of every second in the day. Personally, if I can squeeze three hours out and spend them sleeping, I consider it time well spent.
Now that I am 35 years old, I am reaching the mid-life crisis stage (yes it has moved up from 50 to 40 to 35) and feel that moment of madness is around the corner before I start questioning my existence and my future.
But when you think of our existence on this planet, it is but a brief moment of time in comparison to those of celestial objects like the sun and the moon. How many weird and wonderful things the mountains and the seas have seen, if only they could share with you and me.
Time is the only value that once spent cannot be reclaimed back. It is irreversible and the mysterious thing is that no one how much time they all have. We all can plan ahead but in truth, the end is oblivious to us all till it actually comes, and then it doesn’t matter after that.
For those who are religious, they would like to spend a bit of their time getting closer to their Almighty God; for those that are non-religious, it could be about spending time with their near and dear ones, or even for most of us, trying to do some good for the mischief we have taken part in.
I want to take this concept away from a spiritual or philosophical bend to that of business. If we are a business that can help save our customers time in every step of the process through automated, well-planned systems, then we are adding value. Many businesses offer solutions that are designed to boost productivity, enable faster, smarter communications and facilitate connections.
But this is only as good as the user – if the user is not aware of how best to work these solutions, then the productivity is marginal and questionable. In extreme cases, it can be counter-productive by costing more time than saving time.
So how do we go about it? I wish I had the perfect answer, surely then I would be a billionaire many times over, but I can list ten things that have worked for me.
1. Before you go to bed – I visualise all the things I did on the day and how better I could have done that task to be productive and profitable. This helps me remember and remind myself of these things in my sleep and then sets a pattern where in the future I don’t repeat the mistake.
2. When you wake up – I don’t just jump out of the bed but spend the first 5 mins, opening my mind and getting out of sleep mode into get-ready mode. Setting the brain to prepare the body means the moment I get out of the bed, the body reacts smoothly than lazily.
3. Exercise – Take time to exercise and I would strongly recommend putting this into your morning routine for a healthy outlook on life. Every minute in the gym or the field is worth 5 mins in real life of relieving stress and preparing the body to take on extra workload.
4. Only attend productive meetings – it is something that I am trying to incorporate into my work and business life where I don’t want to sit in meetings from which I don’t see any gain. The best way is to review the agenda and if it seems like you could do without attending, then its better to not attend. Spend that hour contemplating strategy and development and you will get more done in the long term.
5. Punctuality – it is critically important to know the value of one’s time and other’s time so being punctual is a given. If you’ve committed yourself to a meeting, and someone else is making you run late due to their lack of organisation or whatever, you have every right to leave that meeting to meet your next appointment.
6. Get feedback – it is also good practice to get and seek feedback from your colleagues, friends and associates so that you can help them help you be more organised and productive with your time.
7. Take it easy – Being in rushed mode at all times kills brain cells and productivity in huge quantities, and with it your sense of motivation and achievement. It is the work of the devil as my grandma used to say, and she was right. We have at some point in our career worked for managers who push their staff to the brink of extinction chasing unrealistic targets set them up for failure. Take control of your destiny by having a plan that is collaborative and allows you to be flexible and work at your pace.
8. Value time – It takes a lot of responsibility to be accountable to yourself for your time. Often even senior professionals and business owners operate without a sense of reality, and can end up costing their clients or network connections a lot of time. Try to meet time deadlines that you are committed to, and never promise on anything that you can’t deliver.
9. Use tools – Work smart instead of hard by making use of smart tools and apps that help you manage your workflow, time sheets and meetings better. Make it a habit to print out your calendar of tasks and meetings first thing in the morning and make notes as you go along. This will help you not only tackle the day better but be easier to report back on where a day was spent – especially if you’re in sales.
10. Rank appointments – Another trick I learnt from my years in sales was to rank appointments by priority (based on revenue, potential, urgency) so you’re not spending your time procrastinating on the less-important items whilst the big items slip away. Do what’s important and do it now, and then focus on the next item on your list.
Don’t be one of those that is seen as time-waster but be one with whom people are happy to connect for the respect you show them by valuing your time and their time.
I hope you find this post informative, and look forward to your feedback. And most importantly, this wasn’t a waste of your time.