Don’t spend your whole life busy and not make progress.

Being busy is not the same as being productive. In fact, busyness is like Fool’s Gold. It looks like business to the uniformed. But it is easy to be busy without getting ahead. In fact, you can spend your whole career extremely busy but not make any progress. The same thing can happen in your personal life too.

The 80-20 rule says that 80 percent of the results come from just 20 percent of the work. (And that 80-year olds seen with 20-year olds have money coming out of the wazoo.) In other words, if you are spending your time on the wrong things you could get little to no results. 

Earlier in my career, when I was with a very large advertising agency, the majority of my time was sucked up with meetings. And meetings about meetings. And to the uninformed, it looked like we were all super busy beavers. But very little wood was actually chewed. And we weren’t building any damn dams.

Today, as an entrepreneur, I see a direct link between how I spend my time and the value that time creates. The goal of any business is to make money. And if you are spending time on anything that ultimately is not helping your organization make more money, you are wasting your time.

Your wasted time and wasted motions at work hurt your career. Because they rob you of time that could be used for self-improvement, networking or creating value for your organization. Those are the 3 keys to making your company more successful, rising within your organization, and earning more for yourself.

If you find yourself in meetings that are not adding value, do one of the following:

  1. Change the meeting. Take the initiative to alter the meeting to make it more valuable to your organization and the people in it.
  2. Shorten the meeting. Help fast forward to the information that needs to be shared or decision that needs to be made, and be done. Often we take a lot of time to do what could be done in just a few minutes. 
  3. Pull the cord. Just like riding the bus, you can pull the cord and ask to get out of the meeting at any time. Be polite, but clear that you don’t feel it is a valuable use of your time. If you feel that way, it is likely that others do too.
  4. Text someone outside the meeting to pull the fire alarm. That works every time.

Key Takeaway

Time is your most precious commodity. Evaluate the way you are spending your time. Look for inefficient and ineffective uses, then eliminate them. Don’t let others waste your time. The opportunity cost is too high with this non-renewable resource.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

What not to do with your extra time right now.

When I was in 6th grade I went to the Lake of The Ozarks in Missouri. It was long before Jason Bateman made it look both scary and binge-able. I lived in Columbia, Missouri at the time, and my friend Matt had a family lake house in the LOTO. Matt and his family invited me to come down to the lake for a summer weekend. Which at the time felt as big and exciting as going to Cancun. Except I could speak the language, and drink the water.

I remember 4 things from that weekend:

  1. ‘Glory Days’ by Bruce Springsteen was brand new and we listened to that song over and over all weekend long. I had a sneaking suspicion that the Boss Man was trying to tell me that my glory days as a 12-year old kid would soon pass me by.
  2. I saw a monster truck in the middle of the lake. The giant tires held so much air that the truck floated. It was tooling around the lake just like a boat. Except it was a monster truck. That was some real hillbilly shiznit.
  3. My friend’s sister Lisa and her friend Brooke asked me if I would jump in the lake and fetch the inner tube that was floating away from the dock. I gladly dove in, swam to the tube, and brought it back to the dock. When I climbed out of the water feeling 6th grade-heroic, they expressed their extreme gratitude. Then they added, ‘We didn’t want to go get it because we just saw a huge water moccasin swim under the dock.’

Number 4 On Cove 4

But it was the 4th memory from that trip that I have thought about most often over the past 3 decades.

One day me, Matt, Lisa, Brooke and several older kids went out on the family’s water ski boat. After all the older kids had skied, Matt’s cousin, who was in his early 20s, asked if I wanted to go waterskiing. I said no. I explained that I had never gone before and that I didn’t want to waste everyone else’s time.

He responded by saying, ‘Hey man, don’t worry about that. We’re just out here killing time.’ He said it as if killing time was a good thing. A necessary thing to do to get rid of all this pesky time we all have to deal with.

I understood what he meant. But I couldn’t get past what he actually said. Killing time seemed crazy to me, even then. Killing time sounded as rational as burning money. Or eating veal.

Time For Time

Today, during the global lockdown created by the COVID-19 crisis, you may find yourself with a surplus of time. And you could be tempted to just kill it. But don’t. Don’t waste it. And don’t pass it either.

Time Scarcity

Time is the scarcest of all resources. In fact, one of the most impactful things I’ve read over the past 2 months was So Much Quarantine. So Little Time. by my friend Drew Hawkins. He details how he and his wife are extremely time-challenged right now as they both work from home, while simultaneously caring for their 1 and 3-year old children. They are spinning plates like a carnival act. For Drew and Megan free time is harder to find than live sports. Almost all of their time is multi-tasking. And that time is working as hard as any time ever has in the history of time.

Key Takeaway

If you are lucky enough to have time right now, for Drew and Megan’s sake, don’t kill it. Cherish it. Use it. Employ it. Value it. Make the most of it. Time is a gift. It’s the most valuable thing you will ever have. Except for maybe toilet paper.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.