I often engage in lively discussions with people I coach on the use of the phrase, "I don't have time". I think this is the #1 cop-out that most people use when asked why they did not do something. I encourage them to eliminate the phrase all together from their thinking. Let’s be honest, we ALL have the same amount of time, where we differ is in the choices of how we spend or invest our time. The phrase we should embrace is, "I did not take the time".
You have probably heard it said that “Time is money”. If this is true, then why not look at time like we look at money. Especially when you consider that time is non-renewable like money. When you “spend time” you really have no expectations, you are just blowing time. When you “invest time” you are looking for a return on that investment (ROI).
When I did a quick assessment of where my time goes each day, I found two interesting gaps:
1. The early morning time slot
2. The time between dinner time and bed time
I have found great value in developing a morning routine to manage that important morning time slot, but the evening time, between 6 and 10, has always been a struggle for me. It is so easy to default into kicking back and doing nothing of real value. My ROI is often ZERO.
Now, before you start thinking I anti-kicking back, I’m not. What I am against is the mindless defaulting to kicking back and not making the choice. If my natural default was to fall into reading a book, then this would not be a problem, unfortunately for me and most of the people I know, the default setting is falling onto the couch with a TV remote in hand. My simple approach to this time slot now is asking the question, "Between 6 and 10, will I invest, or will I spend?" Your exact hours may vary, but that phrase rhymed and who doesn’t like a rhyme?
To invest your time you might read a book, write a blog, develop a website, learn something new, play a game with the family, have a conversation with your children, or prepare for tomorrows sale call. These are all items with a noticeable return on the investment of time.
Spending, on the other hand, would be items that have little or no return. This might look like back-to-back hours in front of the TV or mindless hours of video gaming. Again, there’s nothing wrong with a little TV or video games, it’s the defaulting to it that can be the problem.
A couple of thoughts on turning a spend into an invest:
If I watch TV for hours = Spend; If I watch a movie with my wife = Invest
If I play video games for hours = Spend; If I am playing video games with my son = Invest
If I read a book = Invest; If I read a book to my granddaughter = Exponential Invest
You get the idea. Make the choice. Be intentional. Treat time as the precious resource that it is. You can make more money; you can’t make more time!