Question: what is the most precious resource you have?
Maybe you thought of a car, a house, a piece of jewelry, or a bank account. When we think of valuable items, we immediately think of material things.
But time is actually the most precious resource you have. It’s the one thing you can’t get back. You can always get more money or another car. But that’s not true with time. Once it’s gone, it’s gone forever. No one knows how much they will have, so it’s important to use it wisely.
So how do you use time well? Here are three key strategies:
1. Learn to say “no.” When people ask you for a commitment, sometimes it’s easier to say “yes” because you don’t want to hurt their feelings. But remember that every time you say “yes” to another commitment, no matter how small, you have to say “no” to something else you’re already doing. You can’t keep putting more things on your plate without taking something off.
If you don’t have enough time for your creative work, you must prune your schedule. Take a hard look at each of your current commitments and evaluate whether you should continue them.
Sometimes it can be costly to say “no.” One of the worst decisions I’ve ever made was starting a network marketing business selling memberships to a nutrition company. After a few weeks, it was obvious that I was not a good fit for this type of business. I knew it was going to fail. Even though it had cost over $2,000 to start the business, I decided to cut my losses and move on.
If you want to stay focused on your priorities, you will pay a price. Sometimes you will pay the price of passing up an opportunity. Sometimes you will pay the price of upsetting someone. Sometimes you will pay a financial price, as in my case. But that’s the price of staying focused on your art and pursuing success.
2. Take advantage of spare moments. Spare moments are small chunks of time between other events. Five minutes here, or ten or fifteen minutes there, can be very useful if you use them intentionally.
Here are some examples of spare moments:
· Waiting at your doctor’s office.
· Waiting at the DMV (Dept. of Motor Vehicles) to renew your license.
· Waiting to pick up your child from school.
· Waiting for a class or meeting to start.
· Waiting for someone to arrive at lunch.
· Waiting for your spouse to finish shopping.
· Waiting in line at the grocery store.
Notice how all of these moments involve waiting. It’s inevitable that you will spend time waiting for something to start, or waiting for other people. You can’t always avoid waiting, but you can determine how you will use your time. Will you spend your waiting time passively or purposefully?
These spare moments are a gold mine for being productive or doing creative work. Here are a few ways to take advantage of them:
· Read a good book. You should always have a book with you. The beauty of e-books is that you have a whole library at your fingertips.
· Think about topics or other content ideas for blog posts, books, or podcasts.
· Respond to emails, calls, or messages.
· Send up a few quick prayers.
If you don’t take control of your schedule, someone else will. Be intentional about using your time, especially the spare moments that we tend to waste.
Questions for Reflection
1. Do you have a hard time saying “no” to others? Why or why not?
2. What is a current commitment that you would like to say “no” to? What is the risk of getting out of this commitment? What is the reward?
3. What is a recent time when you were waiting somewhere? How did you make use of that time? How could you have used it better?