How To Make Time Be On Your Side - Part 1
For some time now, I’ve been posting blog messages on different topics. The point of these blog posts is to share a little bit of the knowledge I’ve gained during my years as a financial planner. Hopefully you’ve found them helpful as you work to simplify and enhance your financial life! In this letter, I’d like to share a friendly tip that has served me well over the years, both personally and professionally:
Time Management Is Crucial to Financial Success
You’re familiar with the concept of time management, of course. But just to make sure we’re on the same page, here’s the definition: time management is “the act of planning and exercising control over the amount of time spent on specific activities, especially to increase effectiveness, efficiency, or productivity.”1
Those last three words are key. To work effectively, efficiently, and productively is directly linked with financial success, because these traits can help you:
- Potentially secure more income
- Cut back on unnecessary expenses
- Complete more tasks that affect your bottom line
- And much, much more!
Naturally, all this is easier said than done. It’s one thing to want to be effective, efficient, and productive. Actually doing it is another thing entirely … which brings us back to time management.
Imagine this scenario. Say you’re mowing the lawn. Would you mow a strip of the front yard, then a strip of the back, and then return to the front for a few more strips before pulling out your edger? Of course not! That’s an unproductive use of your time. It would make the job last much longer than necessary. Instead, you would mow your entire front yard, then all of your back, and then pull out the edger. Simple, right?
Unfortunately, many people take the first approach when it comes to their everyday life and/or job. Let’s say you’re working in an office.
You arrive at nine in the morning, grab some coffee, read some emails, make a few phone calls, read more emails, do some filing, work for a few minutes on that big report coming due, then make a few more phone calls, etc. Many people work this way, and it’s usually a big mistake. Because they are jumping around from task to task, without any structure or organization, they can never actually finish one specific type of task. They never gain any momentum. They never get “in the zone.” As a result, they’re not effective. They’re not efficient. And they’re much less productive. In short, they’re not managing time. They’re letting time manage them. That’s why you hear so many people say, “Where did the time go?”
The answer: it went right out the window the moment they decided to ignore it.
Now, apply this same scenario to a different topic over a longer period of time. For example: retirement planning. People who don’t practice time management plan for retirement this way:
- Dream about what they’d like to do in retirement, and then decide it’ll probably happen “some day.” Then they start thinking about what to have for dinner.
- A few months or years later, read a book or article on retirement planning and think, “This makes sense, I’ll have to get on that sometime.” Then they turn on the TV.
- Occasionally remember to save a portion of their paycheck, between bouts of buying a new gadget or planning their next vacation.
Then, before they know it, they’re in their sixties and realize they’re nowhere close to being ready for retirement.
All of this might sound harsh, but unfortunately, it’s the truth. Time is more than moving hands on a clock. Time is an asset. But like all assets—money, property, personal skills—if you fail to manage it properly, it will go to waste. It will be lost forever.
I hope this blog post has convinced you how important time management is. In a future blog post, I’ll share a few specific tips on how to actually manage time. The good news: they’re simple, easy, and the benefits are immediate.
In the meantime, remember: don’t let time pass you by. Time is an asset. Use it. Manage it. Make it work for you. And never forget the words of Benjamin Franklin, who said in his book, The Way to Wealth:
If time be of all things the most precious, wasting time must be the greatest prodigality, since lost time is never found again, and what we call time-enough, always proves little enough.
1“Time Management,” Wikipedia.org, accessed March 11, 2015. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_management