It’s another new year and again I am reflecting on what I have done and what I need/want to do. I find that over the years, my answers are changing, or maybe evolving.
A question I have frequently asked myself for decades is “What is the best use of my time?” It has served me well and has made me more productive and more successful.
At this point in my life (semi-retired), however, I’m not sure that is the best question anymore. Or at least not the best question to ask if I use it solely to determine how to be more productive. I think a better question might be “What do I want to do most with my time?”
My husband has been retired for a couple of years now. The grandkids bought him a sign for the basement: “Retired. Don’t want to. Don’t need to. Can’t make me!” It’s humorous. The more I think about it, the more I realize there is wisdom in it as well. If I don’t want to do something, and I don’t need to do it, the only person that is making me do it is me. Why? Why am I making myself do something that I don’t want and don’t need to do?
I think this year I will try to eliminate more of the things that I do out of habit or a false sense of necessity and focus more on the things that I truly want to do.
How about you? Can you let go of things that you don’t need to do and don’t even want to do to free up time for the things that matter most?
Although I believe that we should strive for excellence, that we should do our best, sometimes we can’t. Often, we don’t have the time to do everything that we need to do as well as we could or as well as we would like. We must prioritize how we will spend a limited resource—time.
When this happens, all we can do is to do the low priorities well enough to get the job done so that we can spend the time we need on the high priority items.
We all have time wasters. We all have things that we like to do that does not give us anything in return. We cannot succeed if we spend time on these items instead of working.
By time wasters, I do not mean hobbies. We all need to do things to relax, to take our minds off of work, to connect with other people, to grow ourselves in ways other than professionally. These things help make our life richer.
By time wasters I mean those things that we do that do not contribute to our lives in any way. For example, my time waster is spider solitaire. I do not even know why I like it. I do not like video games and do not like games in general. But for some reason I like spider solitaire.
So is it a big deal? A game only takes 5-10 minutes. The problem is that those 5-10 minutes can really add up during the course of the day. That is time spent that cannot be spent on anything else, work or hobby.
What time wasters are stealing time away from your professional or personal pursuits? You cannot succeed by playing spider solitaire!
Everything in life has a price. It may be a price in money, time, or other intangibles. Once we spend money on one item, we do not have that money to spend on another item. Once we spend time on one activity, we do not have that time to spend on any other activities.
If we buy on credit, not only do we pay the initial price, but we also pay interest. What “interest” are we paying when we put off doing the things that will gain us the success we want in our personal and professional lives?
For example, if you are putting off going back to school, what is it costing you, year after year, in lost income and potential opportunities? You will still pay the same in money (or more) and the same in time, but the longer you wait the less time you will have to reap the rewards.
What will you pay in the future by not looking for that new job now? What will it cost you to continue to delay it? What will it cost you to continue to sit in front of the TV instead of spending time with your family?
We will always pay for what we get. We can pay later, and gain less. Or we can pay now, and have longer to gain from it, thus gaining more.