We all know the single thing we cannot recover is time. Once it’s passed, we can never recover it. Most everything else, we do, we can recover from. We can change our strategy if things aren’t going right, we can find new customers if we don’t have enough deals to make our number, we can change our proposal if customers don’t like what we’ve proposed, we can change our jobs, if we accepted a role we end up not being well suited for.
However, I’m always amazed with the casualness with which we treat our time. There are all sorts of ways we demonstrate this.
For example, we never seem to find the time to plan and do things correctly, but we always have the time to do things over. Or to recover from the errors we make.
Related to the previous point, we don’t prepare for meetings, failing to accomplish what we should. This forces us to schedule another meeting to accomplish what we might have done in the first.
We waste time chasing bad opportunities, prospecting customers that aren’t in our sweet spot.
We waste endless amounts of time on social media, email, or anything that we might use as an excuse to avoid doing the things we should be doing.
We are constantly distracted, whether by our devices, or other things.
There’s no end to the examples of how we waste seconds, minutes, hours doing things that don’t contribute to our business, professional, and personal goals.
All the while, knowing that time we spend doing something ineffectively is wasted and can never be recovered–in fact the activities we try to take rob us of more time.
Time is our scarcest resource, yet we treat it so casually.
Sometimes, it takes an extraordinary event to catch our attention, to refocus us on how precious time is, and how casual we are about its value.
I was recently reminded of this in a very vivid fashion. A friend was diagnosed with a very advanced cancer. He had been through all the treatments and therapies. None were successful.
He knows his time is limited—weeks, perhaps a couple of months, but nothing more.
Prior to this diagnosis, he was no different with the way he treated his time. He wasted huge amounts of his time. He would now say, he spent the majority of his time doing things that were a waste, rather than maximizing his impact or the quality of the time he spent on doing things.
His approach to time is very different. He’s not trying to pack a lot of things in, doing more stuff in the time he has left. In fact, from a pure activity level, he’s doing significantly less.
But his focus is on how he spends whatever time he has. He’s more focused on the quality of each moment, the impact he can have on others and the impact others have on him.
He knows he doesn’t have much time, so he viciously focuses on how he spends the time he does have.
It’s a shame that it’s only in these moments, that we realize that time is our most important commodity. It’s terrible that when it’s too late, we discover how much time we waste. It’s tragic, when we choose not to do anything about it.
We waste hours of time every day. We will never eliminate all the waste, but perhaps if we started doing a few things right, if we stopped being distracted, if we started being more protective of how other use our time and how we use it; we would achieve much more and we would be much more satisfied with what we do spend time on.