Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Your Time Is Valuable - Protect it!

During a recent webinar on productivity, Darren Hardy, a speaker, author, and former publisher of Success Magazine, began his presentation suggesting that we only put on the calendar those things that will help us reach our goals. This tip resonated with me because I recently found myself suggesting the same thing.

If you have been following my articles on time management, you may be aware that I try to schedule every minute of the day. For some, this may be too much. I've heard comments from co-workers who say it's too difficult to find time to meet as my calendar stays full. While this may be true for people trying to meet today, but if you go out another 5 days, I do have openings.

For me, scheduling tasks, meetings, and even time to watch television is how I stay organized. It works and now I have the supportive nod from highly productive people who agree with me.

Be More Selective

It was during my evaluation of the calendar that I found an opportunity to improve upon my effectiveness. Instead of scheduling everything, I need to be more selective about what I am focusing on. With 24 hours in a day, I know that I cannot give my time to just anything and everything. Instead, I have to determine the highest valued items and spend my time focused on that.

Sure, it would be nice to sit down and read every article in a magazine, have deep conversations with everyone I meet, watch every television show that peaks my interest, and attend every local event made available. Unfortunately, I am limited on time, energy, and money. Starting with those limitations, I have to use my calendar and my budget to determine where I should be investing my time to get the greatest return.

What Is Your Time Worth?

To achieve this goal, I can start by delegating tasks to someone else. Yes, there are things that need to be done, but it doesn't always mean that you are required to do it. The easy example to explain this concept is with mowing the lawn. While it may appear to be a cost saver doing this job personally, consider what else you could be doing with your 1-2 hours a week. If you're in business or work in a professional setting, how much is an hour of your time worth? Compare that to the price you would pay to have someone else cut your grass.

Let's say you can make $75 to $150 an hour. When you compare the price of paying someone to cut your grass versus YOU doing it, which I've seen fall in the $35-$45 range for a yard my size, I'd say that you're losing money. Why spend an hour doing something that could save you $35 when you could spend that same time doing something with a higher return on your investment?

As I look at my calendar for the week, I see a number of items that can and should be replaced with higher valued items. Many of these things are time wasters, provide little interest to me, or can easily be done by someone else.

The more my calendar fills up, the more valuable my time seems to get. Knowing that I don't have the time or energy to do everything means that I have to determine what must be done and find time to do it. Often, this means rearranging my schedule and replacing the less valuable items for something more important.

Let me quickly write that money isn't always the measuring stick of value. Spending time with a loved one (spouse, child, or friend) may not bring dollars, but it does build and maintain a priceless relationship.

Yes, Schedule Your Time With Friends

As a result of this strategy, I have found myself having to schedule telephone conversations with family and friends. It seems cold at first glance, but what I found is that it allows me the time to focus entirely on them. For that moment in which we've agreed to spend together, I am not worried about my cell phone, emails, work deadlines, or any other task because this time is devoted solely to them. In this moment, this is the most important thing.

To make this work, I do have to protect my time. This means that I have to continuously fight against people who want to encroach upon my already scheduled day. This isn't always easy, but it is something I'm working on. At the job, we get unexpected telephone calls, emails, and office visits. Unless your place of employment requires you to be available at a moments notice, I say let the voicemail catch the callers, address email at the predetermined time, and schedule a focused conversation with visitors. You have to control your time. If not, someone else will control it for you.

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I hope that you got something of value in today's post. If you did, please take a moment and share it with someone who you think could benefit from it.

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Damond L. Nollan, M.B.A.

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