Time “Managed” is Time Wasted
When I ask people what they Value, everybody brings up the value of Family. And when asked what they mean by family, they all reply with an indication that it is important to them that they are part of something more than just themselves; that they belong to and spend their time with a defined group that shares common values and vision. It is their spouses, children, parents, siblings, co-workers, employees and friends. Everyone has values, and everyone values Family to some important degree. Think about your own Values… Family will be in there somewhere.
But there are two values that people do not bring up when asked what they value. And they happen to be the two most important values of all. In fact, they are often both required in order for all other Values to be met. Want to know what they are? They are Trust and Time. I have coached many people about the elements of Trust. You can read about how Trust works here. But what about Time? Is it something that you recognize as important to you? Is it truly one of your values? Because it needs to be… for all of us.
As you know very well, time is our most precious asset. It is the only thing in life that we cannot reverse. There are 86,400 seconds in a day. Subtract 1 from that number and that is the one you just used up. Each second counts and each second matters. Whether you measure your time in days, hours, or minutes, they are all made up of single seconds. An isolated individual might easily justify not setting a defined schedule for their time, because in deciding to spend time doing something or doing nothing, they really only affect themselves. This is true, and we really are given the choice what to do with our own time. Where this changes though is that once you are in a relationship. Most of us were put into this position when we were born, with family and friends surrounding us as we grew up. For those who were not, I assure you that them not having family or friends does not mean that they don’t Value being part of something! Ask someone who works at an orphanage. They will tell you a hug from an orphaned child will change your life forever.
So if you are in a role where where others depend on you to complete your tasks before theirs, the decisions that you make on how you spend your own time becomes a huge responsibility, because the choice on what you do with your time affects their time. No matter what role we play, be it a delivery driver, a doctor, a friend or a parent, we all have people that require our time. Each and every person in our lives will ask for our time. And the people that count on us like our spouses, children, our staff or our customers will at some point will need some of this time from us. There are however only a few very important people who you would choose to give ALL of your time to. The rest are the “less important” people in your life that you would give very little of your time to. This is not to say that some people are not important. Everyone in this world matters. The reality is that some people are not as important as others to YOU.
Now, although I am not going to make you decide who is more important in your life, (although this is a beneficial exercise to do) but I am going to ask you to think about these questions… Why do we schedule our time with the people who are not as important to us yet we don't always do this with those who are? Why would we rush through a unscheduled coffee with our spouse to get to an appointment with our Banker? Why are we late for a child's dance recital and justify it because we were helping out an important customer? How come you have to interrupt an important conversation to take an important phone call? And why do we make huge commitments to spending time with those we care about, yet they are the first ones we drop or reschedule when something comes up? WHY do we ask those who mean the most to us to wait, but commit most of our time to those who have little meaning to us at all. Think about this for a minute or two. Let it sink in! Listen to what your saying to yourself right now, because this is where it all starts!
This all happens because YOU allow it to! Yes, it might be that this important person you are putting aside knows you, and therefore understands that you have other commitments other than them. You are most likely going to have their support in this, because we all tend to allow those we love do what they feel is important. But the truth is what you are saying to them is that there is something more important than them going on, and therefore your time with others is more important than them. The reasoning behind this is far too often played out with logic. Do you use excuses like “I have to spend my time working to provide for my family, so that is why I am not spending time with them?” And why would it be ok to say, “I do spend quality time with my family” yet when you are home, you work on your yard all day Saturday, or bring your phone to the dinner table? Does this sound like you?
Country Star Dean Brody wrote a song about this. He called it “Time”. I encourage you to watch his video and listen to his message. In verse two, Dean sings,
"Student hire and a fancy job, Big old house, two car garage
He works hard for his wife and his son, An empty seat at t-ball games
Just a sacrifice he’ll make, Make it up, next weekend comes along
Years go by and that day comes too soon...
That boy goes off to college, he stands in his empty room”
He points out the cost of doing things for those we care deeply about rather than with them. We take for granted that our loved ones will always be around, as will we. “The trouble is, we all think we have Time”. We forget that others are looking to spend their time with us… but are we taking that for granted as well?
You might be thinking, "This is not me... I am actually really good with managing my time". Worse yet, you might be convinced that you “don’t have time” to commit to a schedule for your loved ones. You already run a tight schedule that includes what time you need to be home. You’re doing your best to pay the bills, maintain the house and give the rest to your family. That is great! But does it include specific time set aside to play with your son, or read with your daughter. Does it have “no electronics” time with your spouse, to talk and connect about each others day. Does it have time set aside to meditate or pray and set positive outcomes. And does it include a time to go to bed and rest. Even if it has all of this, it is nothing without commitment. The problem with “time management” is that any time you try to manage something, you have to be able to control it. But you cannot control time, and so "Managing Time" becomes an oxymoron! You can only decide where and how you want to SPEND it! And you only have this moment. There is not a single thing that you can do to get time back, and you cannot buy more time, so if you do not set your schedule around those you care about, and make specific time available for them, then you are going to face a day where you regret not doing so. All of us have regrets. Things we wish we did or didn’t do in our lives. But wishing we had spent more time with those we love should not be a regret. Ever!
It is TIME to make a shift, and this is the most important thing you can do with your time. Stop ‘managing’ your time, and start “utilizing” it! Life has its exceptions. The people you care about should not be one of them! An exception is defined as “a person or thing that is excluded from a general statement or does not follow a rule”. So ask yourself. What is the rule, and what is the exception? If you are continually promising time to your loved ones and bailing on them, or if you are not making the commitment to making time available to them on a regular basis, then you need to change your rules! There are many ways to help you keep track of your time. Calendars, phones, apps and even people you hire can help you decide where to spend your time. What none of these can do however is make the time that you spend more valuable. Only you can do this.
The most effective way to make the most of your time is to first consider all of things that are important to you. This starts with identifying and reviewing your values. It also includes deciding what you do and do not want to do. Once you have identified these, make time in your schedule for ALL of it. Health would include walking or workout time. Family would include being home for dinner or setting time aside to read with your child. It would also include making time to go visit a parent or a commitment to call a long distant relative. This schedule will need to include other responsibilities like paying bills or going to work (hopefully your work really is in the “want to do” category) But instead of making time for all of the things in your life like you normally would, consider changing it to making time for the most important things first, and then add in the other responsibilities. Once you have this laid out let those who count on you know when you will not be available, and then offer them the time when you are. This will allow you to get the things done that you need to AND allow those you care about to have just as much of you time. The difference is that this time made for them is only for them, and they get to use this time the way that THEY want to. One of my favorite writer/speaker influences is Bob Goth, who one said, “People do not follow Vision, they follow availability.” To me this means that until you make your fully focused time available to your people, they will not fully see your vision.
So here is the process. Take this challenge for the next 30 days. Draft up a physical schedule to include time for the things you love and want to do. Then add time for your personal health, both physical and mental. Set time aside to take a nap, read a book or go for a walk. Add in there the time you want to be by yourself, doing what you like. Let the important people in your life know of this time when you WILL NOT be available for them. Now, open up your available time to those you care about and allow them to request their time with you. Be open to their requests, and then commit to the requests they make for your time. DO NOT let other people steal this booked time. Call it a stakeholders meeting if you must! You would NEVER miss a Stakeholders meeting! For those trying to steal your time, such as your work, you can set time aside in your schedule for them too, but it is important that you follow through for your people!
The outcome is that your spouse will book a tea/coffee/dinner with you, your co-workers, colleagues, and employees will use this time made available to them to use you for their benefit. Make any adjustments needed to this newly developed schedule to allow you to see that time made available is not time being managed. Pay attention to when it fails, for this is a signal that you need to decide who gets your time and when. Your schedule will open up more than you could ever imagine! As for the unknown interruptions in your day? They become the exception, not the rule, and you will have time for these. You will see that those you care deeply about will ask for last minute things, and these become fantastic opportunities to serve them, all because you have the time. It is time being Trusted to others. They will use their values to utilize this “gift” that you are giving them in ways you could never imagine. And if they do not come to you with requests for help, or they do not book time with you, then have the conversation on Trust. It will take a bit of time for them to learn that it is ok to ask for help, and you will see how important this new way of Time Trusted is much more effective than Time Managed.
Thank you for your Trust, and for your Time!