There are many things in this world that are valuable… work, family, health, possessions, and so forth. But it could be argued that the most valuable thing you’ll ever have in this world, outside of your health, is your TIME. In fact, the way you use your time has a major impact on the quality of your health. Do you take time for exercise and nutrition? Or do you just kill time, hoping you’ll feel fine and everything will work out fine?
I would suggest that your success and failure, in almost every part of your life, depend almost entirely on how you use your TIME. Think about it. You can always get another job, and you always get new possessions. You can never get a more TIME, and you can never recapture the TIME you’ve spent. That being the case, I would argue that it’s well worth your TIME to understand TIME and how to manage it. For starters:
1. You need to understand that TIME is a resource.
But it’s a different kind of resource. You can’t buy it, rent it, borrow it, store it, save it, renew it, or multiply it. All you can do is spend it. There is no way you can “save” time. When people say they are “saving” time, they simply mean they’re spending less time on a task. They’re not saving it for future use because all time must be spent now.
Unlike other resources, such as talent, education, or money, we all have the exact same amount of time. It’s the only aspect of our lives where we are all truly equal. As psychologist Dr. Denis Waitley points out, “Each human being has exactly the same number of hours and minutes every day. Rich people can’t buy more hours. Scientists can’t invent more hours.”
2. Your TIME is your LIFE.
You’re the only one who can spend YOUR time. And how you spend your time reveals your true VALUES. Oh, a person could say his health is important to him, but if he’s too busy to spend time on exercise and nutrition, we would question how truthful he is being about his values.
And a person could say her career is important to her, but if she never invests any time in her own continuing education, we would question how truthful she is being about her values. Before you spend any time on a task, take a moment to think about your values. And ask yourself, “How truly valuable is this task?’
3. You need to understand the tricky nature of TIME.
No one ever seems to have enough time, yet everyone has all the time there is. And nothing is easier than being busy, while nothing is more difficult than actually accomplishing something.
I’m sure you all know coworkers who are busy, but they don’t have too much to show for it. They confuse activity with accomplishment.
4. You need to understand the difference between the efficient and effective use of TIME.
Efficiency refers to doing the job right. Effectiveness refers to doing the right job. When you’re efficient, you do the job in front of you in the best possible way. But when you’re effective, you may or may not do the job in front of you. You do what most needs to be done at a particular point in time.
When you’re a good time manager, you blend the two approaches. You look at all the possible tasks in front of you; select the most important task to work on, and do it in the best possible way. When you learn how to do that and do it consistently, your work will be more productive and your life will be more peaceful. You will have successfully avoided Parkinson’s Law which says, “Work expands to fill the time.”
You know what I’m talking about. It may take all Saturday to clean your house, but if an important dignitary was going to be at your house in an hour, you would get the house cleaned almost to the same point in an hour that might normally take you six hours.
5. You need to avoid the lion tamer’s diversion.
You may have watched a lion tamer carry a stool into a cage of lions and wondered what that was all about. Even though the lion tamer has his whips and guns, he knows the stool is his most important tool. He holds the stool by the seat and thrusts it towards the animal’s face. The poor lion tries to focus on all four legs at once, and in so doing, a kind of paralysis overwhelms him. He becomes weak and disabled because his attention is fragmented.
In a similar fashion, disorganized people are those who can’t focus their efforts when they’re faced with lots of tasks. So they end up being poor time managers or even time wasters. You can’t let that happen to you. Start by listing all the personal and professional tasks facing you. Rate the importance of each task as either high, medium, or low, and do them in the order of their importance — if at all possible.
And finally …
6. You need to avoid the hamster’s dilemma.
I’m sure you’ve seen it, the poor little hamster running frantically on his carousel. No matter how hard he runs or how long he runs, he never seems to get anywhere. And maybe you feel that way some of the time. If so, I suggest the following:
• Think about what you want out of life … not how much you can get done. Assess all your activities. If they add to your life, keep them. If they don’t, eliminate them whenever possible.
• Understand your body clock. Identify its peak times and try to schedule especially difficult work for those times.
• Don’t crowd every minute with some task. If you do, tension rises and effectiveness declines.
• Slow down. Don’t be addicted to rushing. Ask, “Why am I rushing? What will happen if I don’t rush?” Learn the difference between necessary haste and unnecessary impatience.
• Subtract an old activity from your life each time you add a new one.
It’s about TIME that you used your TIME better.
About the Author
Dr. Alan Zimmerman‘s formal education includes a Bachelor’s degree in Speech and Political Science, a Master’s degree is in Speech-Communication and Sociology, and a Doctorate in the field of Interpersonal Communication and Psychology.
After 15 years of work as a university professor, he founded the Zimmerman Communi-Care Network, Inc. in 1985, a speaking, training, and consulting company with offices in two states and employees in two countries. As the president of that company, Dr. Zimmerman has delivered hundreds of presentations across the world and maintains a 92% repeat and referral business.
For over 20 years, best-selling author and Hall of Fame professional speaker, Dr. Alan Zimmerman has helped more than a million people … just like you … transform their lives. For more free tips, guaranteed to increase your performance, you can get a FREE subscription to Dr. Zimmerman’s “Tuesday Tip” Internet newsletter by going to: http://www.DrZimmerman.com
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