Would you leave your wallet lying around the office? I didn’t think so. It would be stupid to invite others to steal your cash, credit cards and personal identification. Yet, there is a commodity much more valuable than than money that we too often allow others to casually steal on a daily basis. Our time. While you would never voluntarily let others steal your money, do you let others steal your time?
We each have 24 hours in a day. Rich and poor, ruler and serf, athletically gifted and physically challenged; the same 24 hours. That comes out to 1,440 minutes per day that we each own.
Time Is Your Most Valuable Resource
Time is your most valuable resource. You can spend it as you wish, but you can only spend it once. You can relax, read, exercise, drink a beer, waste time, watch a ball game, pet your dog, love your spouse, hug your kids, but once that minute has passed, you can’t get it back again…ever.
By the way, successful people have figured this out. Show me a successful person and I’ll show you someone who is a master of their own time.
Tomorrow is not Guaranteed
It’s easy to take time for granted. I’ll complete that task tomorrow. I’ll tell her I love her tomorrow. I’ll call up an old friend tomorrow. I’ll start that new project tomorrow. However, tomorrow is not guaranteed.
My kids played in their high school and college marching bands. My wife and I spent several years doing the week-end band boogie. A high school game on Friday night followed by the drive to a college game the next day. We saw our kids play in venues from remote high school fields to major college bowl games.
But that final game for the youngest kid came, and it came suddenly for us. The marching band days are now over. No more trying to spot my child on the 35 yard line through binoculars from Section P of the college stadium. Still, I’m proud of the fact that we set aside the time to be there for our children.
Don’t Let Others Set Your Priorities
Don’t let others set your priorities for you. If you don’t diligently pursue your own priorities, other people will fill your life with their priorities. “Hey, you got a minute” is the popular workplace refrain. I rarely have someone interrupt my day with a “you got a minute” where they are walking into my office to pursue a priority of mine. It’s almost always an interruption to shift me onto the other person’s priority.
Often times people just want to pass a job on to you that they don’t want to do themselves. Or they want to tell you how their weekend went. Or they want to gossip under the guise of “I’m really concerned about Old Joe.” Here’s my favorite. The drop-in to discuss a work issue that turns into a 40 minute session of jawing about the same-old, same-old work stuff. That’s 40 minutes of your life you can never get back.
Unfortunately, we can’t avoid all interruptions. However, don’t leave your time carelessly laying around for others to steal. Be busy working on your stuff so that when you get interrupted you have a legitimate reason to say “I’m busy working on Project-X.”
You can never get today’s 1,440 minutes back again. Don’t let mindless drivel steal your time. Use your time wisely because once it’s gone, you can never get it back again.