Do you ever wrestle with the issue of time? How many days do you have where you create your agenda, get to work, and never get to it? Do you ever have days where you go in early or stay late to get your work finished? Have you ever stayed after everyone had left? You watch the last one leave, you wave goodnight and think, I would like to work for me. Is there something wrong with a picture where you never get to your work?

Time is one of the most precious gifts we have, and at the same time it is blamed for a lot of our frustrations. Day in and day out I hear people talk about not having enough time. Daily, I watch people as they struggle with all there is to do. Constantly, I see people who are exhausted, because they are buried with more than their time will allow them to complete.

My research tells me these are the common things that eat the average person’s time:

The inability to say “no”

The result — you keep getting more and more added to your already crowded agenda.

Indecision

The result — things never get completed. They just keep getting moved from one stack to another.

More stacks to deal with

The result — the feeling you will never be able to get caught up. This feeds your tiredness.

Emotions rule your behavior

The result — you lack the calmness and clarity necessary to take action.

Do any of these sound familiar to you?

Isn’t time an interesting part of life? You can waste money and make more of it, but if you waste time, you cannot recreate it. As people approach their day, they take their time and abuse it, waste it, spend it or invest it. Most people spend their time getting ready to do something they are not prepared for. So, in reality, getting ready is actually wasting their time. Then they wonder where their time has gone.

For any person to take their life forward, they must understand the value of time. For growth to happen, time must become a center point of focus. Until you really grasp the fact that time spent is time gone, you will not fully understand the value of each second you have.

I watch people procrastinate and wonder, don’t you understand what you are doing? You are throwing away the most precious thing that life offers you.

I listen as people talk about what they are going to do someday in their life and wonder, don’t you understand that your life is today and the time you really have is right now?

I watch people write their goals and use tomorrow as the starting point. I wonder, what are you doing right now? Why don’t you start now and not use tomorrow as your starting line?

Time wasted is time lost! The time you spend getting ready for what you are not prepared for is just another form of procrastination being justified by good intentions.

How do you learn to invest your time, rather than abuse, waste, or spend it? Remember, investing your time is the only venture that gives you a positive return.

How do you learn to invest your time, rather than abuse, waste, or spend it?

The clutter must go!

I listen as people talk about being disorganized. I watch as they get their daily organizers and write things in it they never get to. They try and try, but never seem to get things done. Then what do they talk about? They spend hours talking about the need to get organized. They need more time.

The reality is that the issue is not disorganization! The real item that needs to be confronted is clutter. Clutter is anything you start, but don’t finish. Most people are much better at starting projects than they are at completing them. What they fail to realize is that anything you start creates a file in your mind. Just because you don’t finish the item, doesn’t mean your mind closes the file. That file remains open and your mind continues to look at it as something that needs to be done.

If I spent time in your life, would I find any projects, any items, any conversation you have started, but not completed? Do these events still play with your mind? Do you ever tell yourself I need to get back?

Your mind cannot function with calmness, clarity, or sharpness with open files. It gets exhausted trying to get you back to the things you have started but not completed. Hey, the clutter must go!!!!

Investigate before you jump in!

How many times have you jumped in with both feet, only to find the water was deeper than you thought? How many times have you said “yes” before you had all the facts, only to discover this was more than you thought it would be?

Investing your time demands you expand your sight, ask the right questions, and make sure you know what is before you spend or waste your time because you didn’t gather information.

Move at a manageable pace!

Many believe that the faster you move, the more you can get done. Nothing is further from the truth. The faster you move, the more scattered you become. The more scattered you become, the more stacks you leave in your wake. Each of these stacks has taken mental energy and continues to take that mental energy as long as they remain open files.

Learning to manage your time as an investment means slowing down! It means seeing what needs to be done, completing that, and then moving forward.

Enlist others who can save you time!

One of the great time investment principles is learning to delegate. Too many believe they are the only one who can do it, so they just keep stacking more and more things on their plate. Too many feel others won’t do it the way they would do it, so they just keeping adding things to their agenda.

When you make yourself the only one who can take care of or handle things, you spend most of your time trying to figure out where to start! When you feel no one will do it your way, you turn away those who are there to help you and you waste your time trying to protect what you are going to mess up.

Let others step up and help you invest your time. Let others take some of the stress off of you by allowing them to become part of the journey. Granted, they may not do it your way; they may actually do it better and get it completed.

Remember — time is a fact; what you do with it is a choice.