Invest your time, don’t spend it

We’re all busy. When I reconnect with folks and ask them how they’re doing, how busy they are often comes out in the conversation. In today’s day and age when we have many competing priorities. The urgent and important can become blurred.

We know that with traditional time management, we are supposed to focus on what is important (vs dealing with only what is urgent). The line between urgent and important can be difficult to distinguish. One perspective that I found useful came to me when listening to a podcast. Jay Shetty provided some time management tips. He spoke about energy management versus traditional priority management. And one comment stuck with me: “invest your time, don’t spend it.” I found that to be a useful rule-of-thumb to follow when thinking about how to prioritize your tasks.

As you’re looking at how you’re spending your week, day, consider whether or not you are “spending your time” or “investing your time”. Is the activity that you’re undertaking serving a broader purpose? Could the results of that activity compound in value to be considered an investment in your future? Or is it just something that when it’s done, you won’t have anything to show for it?

Time is really the only commodity. You can make or get more of pretty much anything else. Be at money, resources, even relationships. However, once a second, minute, hour passes, you can’t get that back. So taking a perspective on whether you are just spending your time or really using it as an investment, can be a great perspective to take on what to do and spend your time on.

Next time you go into your time management planning, think whether you are spending your time or investing your time in the activities you are doing. Are those social media posts an investment in your community? Are you doing “busy work” or “productive work”? Could you invest time that will take longer today, and will automate those same activities in the future? Could you teach or train someone so that you could delegate to them in the future? Or do you have to do it at all? Is it worth your investment in time? Time: your most precious commodity.

Sometimes, it can be difficult to tell the difference. What may seem like a waste of time on the surface, could be practice to make yourself better and better. Taking some time to reflect can also be a useful investment. As Socrates said “an unexamined life is not worth living”. While I wouldn’t necessarily go that far, Socrates has a point that almost everything can be turned into an investment if you reflect on how it benefited your future.

How are you investing your time? What other perspectives of time management have helped you?