Investing or Spending: How are you using your time?
Time is a scarce resource for all of us. We need to change the way we think about time in order to get the most out of the hours available to us. Consider this. How often do you use the term “spend” when discussing how you use your time? Your language impacts the way you understand time. You need to start thinking and talking about time as an investment.
Think about it this way. We can spend or we can invest our money. We don’t expect much of a return when spending money on groceries, bills and leisure activities. For example, when we buy a new TV, we’re just looking to enhance our viewing experience. On the other hand, when we invest our money, we anticipate returns. When investing your money in stocks, you expect a larger return and envision the life you’ll be able to live after retiring.
It’s the same thing with time. In your business, you can either spend time doing low return, low rewarding activities or you can invest your time in high rewarding, high return activities. How are you using your time? Are you investing or spending?
How do you know if you are investing or spending time?
To understand this, let’s define exactly what we mean by the two categories.
Investing your time: You are engaged in activities and projects that move you closer to your goals.
Spending time: You are doing things that do little or nothing to move you closer to your goals.
There are three key takeaways here. One, in order to use your time wisely, you need to have clearly defined goals and be conscious of what’s important, what’s urgent, and what’s not important. This gives you focus and helps you better understand where you should invest your time. Two, you need to know how you currently use your time. You can’t make positive changes unless you know what needs to change. Three, to use your time conscientiously, ask yourself and pay attention to WHY you are choosing to use your time on the things you do. It’s your choice: devote your time to those things that really matter and lead to the results you seek, or be frustrated at the end of the day, feeling that you ran out of time without accomplishing what you wanted.
Are you investing your time in the right areas of your business?
Again, to answer this you need to first clearly define your goals. Let’s say your 3 year goal is to increase revenues from $150k-$300k and you want to jump to $200k over the next year. Attending networking events, prospecting, making cold calls, and having meetings with contacts could all be good investments of your time. On the other hand, you’ll want to reduce the amount of time you “spend” on day to day operational tasks as they do not directly impact your ability to reach that goal of $300k. Consider the following questions to apply this concept to your own situation:
- What are your business goals?
- Considering these goals, what areas of the business should you “invest” most of your time?
- How are you currently using your time?
- What activities should you “spend” less of your time on?
I can’t ignore the other areas of my business!
Of course, all the other hats you wear as a business owner do not suddenly become unimportant. We’re not suggesting you ignore operational tasks and responsibilities because they might not directly move you closer to your goals. Client orders, invoices and bills all still need to be taken care of. We do not challenge the necessity of such things. We do challenge you to ask yourself if you are the right person for these tasks however. If too much of your time is spent focusing on the day to day operations of your business, how many hours are left to invest in goal related activities? In order to grow, you need to free up your time. To grow, you need to invest and the most important investment is your time. Invest it wisely!
View time as an investment. Cleary identify your business goals so you can invest your time more wisely. When making decisions about how you will use your time, always keep in mind the expected return, and understand which activities will progress you closer to your goals.