Treasure Your Most Precious Gift
When I was 16 years old my mother became fatally ill. It was a challenging time for my family and I, as we watched her the once vivacious woman now bedridden and slipping away. As painful as it all was, when she died, what was most comforting to us is that our mother had lived. She had enjoyed life fully, travelled and had the courage to pursue the things she always wanted to experience in life, even taking an exam for a change of career in her fifties.
So often we take time for granted, yet it is our most precious resource. It was William Shakespeare who said “Better three hours too soon than a minute too late.” However, one of my favorite quotes about time, is by Golda Meir, who said “I must govern the clock or be governed by it.” We need to become Gatekeepers of our time and make decisions on how we want to spend it. There is no greater gift than the gift of now and some of the things you can do now to better manage your time and live fully embracing your life styled for freedom are:
#1- Stop Waiting
So many of us have gifts and talent that is just waiting for expression. Often these are brushed under the carpet because “you don’t have the time”. About nine years ago I decided to cut out television from my diet. Although I do watch it occasionally, it no longer demands my time. I asked myself one simple question “are you going to sit here and watch other people live their dream or are you going to use your time living yours?” It may not be television for you but how are you sitting on the sidelines? What are some things you have always wanted to do, but abandoned because you don’t have enough time or money? Stop waiting and start living. Everything on this earth has a purpose and if you have not discovered it yet, then perhaps this is an area that you will find worthy of your time.
#2 Set Goals
Like a sailor without a destination, if you do not set actionable goals for yourself, you will find yourself drifting and as the old adage says “a rolling stone gathers no moss”. Goals have a way of giving you a definite purpose, guiding your actions and helping you better set priorities of what is the best use of your time or not. Your goals are really your compass that’s why they need to be definite. While plans may change along the way, the goal remains the same. No one ever promised a straight course but having a clear sense of direction will help you better plan your course of action and quickly determine what is the best use of your time and how much of your time is a particular activity worth.
While writing my book I AM THE GATEKEEPER, my laptop was stolen and all that was left on my back-up was a very old version of the manuscript. I was able to persist through the discouragement and disappointment because my desire to share the 101 Daily Keys which I knew could make a difference in people’s lives was so strong. In that process I learnt, how much time you spend positively working towards a definite goal is not as important as having a goal and work towards achieving it.
#3 Learn to Say No
There was a time when I could not say no. I didn’t want to make others feel bad or hurt their feelings. This led in many instances to my time being governed by others and often my own tasks were left behind. I had to realize that every time I did not say no someone else was achieving their goal at the expense of mine. Now, I am not saying to be selfish and not help others out where you can but I am saying that sometimes you need to be selfish and claim power over your time devoting it to the things that are important to you. There is no virtue in leaving yourself behind.
You can only serve others better leading from in front. There are times when you will need to block out time for yourself and your own work and put your do not disturb sign up. It may be challenging at times, but if you are constantly feeling like you are being left behind while trying to please others, is not worth it. Because you love the people around you so much, you can say no because you never want to resent them and the fact that you gave up so much of yourself in the process. As author of “The Four Hour Work Week” Tim Ferris said “What you don’t do determines what you can do.”
#4 Avoid Multitasking
Multitasking has had its glory days. But more and more it’s losing respect in the eyes of high performing people. It can seem like nothing will get done if you don’t multitask, but the disappointment comes when several “loose ends” are lying around accusingly begging to be completed. It goes back to setting priorities, identifying the most important task and giving them your full attention for whatever period of time.
It is better to give 15 minutes of focused attention to a task than 1 hour of divided time switching between tasks. According to Psychology Today, recent estimates are that you can lose up to 40% of your productivity if you multi-task. An Infographic by Fuze showed that it takes on average 25 minutes to resume a task after being interrupted.
In other words, multitasking is expensive. In a world where people wear “being busy” as a badge of honor; being busy does not always amount to being productive. Set priorities and use your time wisely, a highly productive four hour day is better than a low productivity 10 hour day.
#5 Take Time to Enjoy the View
When I was at Elementary (Infant) school, our teachers always made us recite the proverb “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”. While we can become super passionate about our work and have a strong drive to succeed this can often lead to overworking and not taking time to enjoy life and the people around us. In Paolo Coelho’s “The Alchemist”, the young man was told by the Alchemist he met on his journey that he should “enjoy the marvel but keep your eyes on the spoon”.
While you must remain focused on achieving your goals, making the best use of your time to ensure its accomplishment, you should also allocate time to enjoy the wonderful things and pleasures that life has to offer. Don’t wait for retirement to travel, take a vacation now even if it’s for a hotel out of town or a nearby state, get a massage, treat yourself. There is no moment like now so treasure it in every way possible and enjoy the view.
Often the best gifts in life are free like time, happiness and love, yet these are often the greatest challenge of many to conquer. The common denominator in love and happiness is time. Time is present everywhere and in everything we do. Brendon Buchard author of the Millionaire Messenger asks in his teachings “Did I Live? Did I Love? Did I Matter?”. These are three questions we should all be asking when we think about how we spend our time.
It is our most valuable resource and as Golda Meir advised, you must become governor of your clock, not obsessed or stingy with it, but finding a healthy balance for all the facets of your life that are meaningful to you and that serves others around you without losing “you”.