Improve the Return on Investments of Time

Improve the Return on Investments of Time

Leaders are exceptionally well-versed when it comes to the importance of budgets. You constantly study metrics and benchmarks to control profit margins, revenues, and debt. Nobody has to tell you the critical role that each of those plays in the bottom line. They also don’t need to remind you that how you deal with those determines your own personal earnings and income. But time is worth more than money, and many leaders don’t have maintain a commanding grasp of how they spend their time.

Your Work/Life Balance Sheet

No matter what your plans and aspirations are in life, one thing is absolutely certain. How you spend your time each day can add up to rewarding nest egg or leave you feeling broke. You do not want to look back over your journey to find that time usage regrets derailed your dreams. You have to be resolute about scheduling those vacation days, kids’ soccer games, and personal/professional development sessions and workshops.

Control Time or It Controls You

Unless you get control of your personal schedule you will not have the clarity and poise to be your best at work. Are you tardy to events for your children or late to dinner with your spouse? You wouldn’t dare show up late for a meeting with an important client or your board of directors, would you? Stop and reevaluate your time management commitments. Set priorities in life. Otherwise life will set them for you.

Don’t Confuse Time Consumption with Productivity

Lots of consumers confuse credit cards with cash and wind up deep in debt. Don’t make the mistake of doing the same thing with your time. Work too many hours, for example, and your productivity will fall. You may spend tons of hours at the office, thinking that you’re working harder. But your boss may interpret that as a sign that you are inefficient and disorganized. You may be cutting back on your personal time, thinking that will automatically boost your career. But it could be doing the opposite by setting you up for career burnout.

Get Out of the Red

I have clients who are so determined to use their time well that they fill in every 15-minute segment of their entire week. Time is money and they know it and value it. Sometimes you have to dig deep into the seat cushions or turn your purse inside-out, looking for extra change. Whatever it takes, find those extra minutes. You’ll enjoy spending more valuable time doing the things you love.

Take Away Exercise

One of the problems with managing time is that we don’t have a concrete idea of how we actually spend it. Jotting down your schedule hour-by-hour can be an invaluable, revealing exercise.

  • Mark down how you specifically use every minute of the day, as if you were participating in a clinical experiment or were in Army boot camp and had to stick to a really strict schedule.
  • At the end of the day study what happened and look for any uses (or wastes) of time that are surprising or unexpected. You might notice, for example, that if you dress 15 minutes faster every day you’ll be able to spend an extra two hours per week with your children.
  • Now make a list of the main categories of “time expenses.” Include such things as time spent online or using your phone, TV time, time talking to family, time driving, time sleeping, or time exercising. Each time you spend time in one of those categories, even if it’s only for a few minutes, make a note of the time spent.
  • At the end of the day tally up those minutes and hours in each category and convert it into a simple pie chart. Study the pie chart. Is your time diversified in the way you thought? Are there small adjustments you can make to get a stronger return of time investment in some valuable categories?

Do these exercises a few times, look for glaring problem areas where time is being wasted or not spent as wisely as you wish. Make adjustments the way you would if you were analyzing your personal budget with the goal of getting out of “debt” by strengthening your work/life balance.

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Sarah Hathorn is a leadership development mentor, executive presence coach, image and branding consultant, public speaker & author. She is the founding CEO of her own successful company, Illustra Consulting, and the creator of the proprietary Predictable Promotion™ System.

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Copyright © 2013, Sarah Hathorn, AICI CIP, CPBS

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