“Guard well your spare moments. They are like uncut diamonds. Discard them and their value will never be known. Improve them and they will become the brightest gems in a useful life.”— Ralph Waldo Emerson
How many minutes do we waste each day doing frivolous or time wasting activities. Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat, Instagram, video games, television, email, instant messaging . . . unfocused use of all these things can be a huge waste of time! Time is the only resource that we get to use that we cannot buy more of and is truly unrenewable. Once time has passed, it is gone forever!
As a business leader, I have found that it is way too easy to get distracted by frivolous issues as well as the many business related concerns that come up during the day. Whether it is an impromptu meeting, an extended meeting, a critical email or instant messages, “emergency” phone calls, document signings or last minute sales calls, there is always something that can take my eye off the ball.
Now, because we know additional time cannot be purchased and that we cannot renew time that has gone by, we need to be very purposeful with how we spend our spare moments. There is a balance that needs to be struck to ensure that we are focusing our time on the most important things so that we don’t just waste our spare moments but instead turn them into the “brightest gems in a useful life.”
Besides basic time management techniques which I won’t cover here (there are already volumes of books written on this topic), there are a minimum of six things that we, as business leaders, need to do to ensure that we are making the most of our time.
- Understand your strengths and leverage them in all your activities. This is a huge productivity booster. For more details on your strengths and some free downloads, take a look two of my past posts:
- Conversely, working in an area of weakness can be a HUGE time waster! There are probably many people around you who have strengths where you have weaknesses. They will be able to do work in your area of weaknesses (their area of strength) significantly better and quicker than you can. Find one of these people and partner with them.
- Everyone has a purpose in life. Understand yours and strive to focus your time on activities that are in alignment with this purpose. This not only provides fulfilment but avoids frustration which can lead to procrastination and wasted time.
- Stay aligned with your organization’s Vision, Mission and Values. Are your daily activities adding value to the organization as it strives to achieve its Mission and fulfill its Vision? If they are not, you are wasting your time and the organization’s time. This is a double whammy!
- Are your goals SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-Bound)? Working towards achieving a goal that is not defined properly is wasting your time and the organization’s time.
- Block time in your calendar for uninterrupted strategic thinking. A leader needs quality time to think and plan. Without this time, a leader can easily get distracted, set the wrong priorities or select the wrong direction for an initiative.
Do an evaluation this next week of how you use your time. Don’t “steal from your future self” as Rory Vaden states in his book Procrastinate on Purpose: 5 Permissions to Multiply Your Time. Do not let your spare moments slip away and be wasted. Rather, use your time wisely and turn your spare minutes into the “brightest gems in a useful life”.
“And each moment that you don’t do the things that you know you should be doing, you are stealing from your future self.” Rory Vaden
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