Suppose I gifted you $1 million today. There are no restrictions, except this caveat: You have to spend it in the next 24 hours.
What behaviors might you adopt to maximize spending?
Now consider this real-world scenario: Instead of the gift of money, you have the gift of time: 24 fresh hours each day.
Do you share the same intensity and drive to use this gift of time before you lose it?
What is Success?
As part of my research, I’ve studied the habits of extremely successful professionals all over the world, from record-setting adventurers to billionaires. Invariably, the common expression of success is mastery over your time. Super successful people recognize that when you control your time, you control your life.
Time contradicts. It’s a free, abundant and renewable commodity. Yet it’s also perishable and scarce, and what’s past is non-renewable. How we think about time influences our choices and behaviors and correlates with happiness.
We usually think about time in terms of how little we have. How often have you thought, “There are not enough hours in the day to get everything done?” This way of thinking and behaving reflects time poverty. It is the default mindset for most people.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. To master your time, spend it intentionally and with the same intensity you’d spend that $1 million in 24 hours. These six techniques will help you create time wealth.
1. Think Abundantly
Rather than thinking about what little time you have, reverse that mindset. Consider the amount of time you have going forward. Consider all the hours and days you can fill with purposeful activity. If you sleep seven hours each night, that leaves 17 hours each day, 119 hours each week and more than 6,000 hours each year to accomplish what’s most important to you. That’s a lot of time.
This abundance mindset inspires us and provides a compelling reason to jump out of bed each morning. With all this future time you may have, go wild with the possibilities. Commit to running a marathon. Vow to climb Kilimanjaro. Set goals for your company. The point is that you have enough time — if you spend it purposefully.
2. Be Unwilling to Postpone
Act now on the things that will enrich your life. Don’t postpone the things that light you up and make life meaningful. Liberate your time from the things that do not matter, and spend your time on what matters most.
3. Prioritize Your Time
How we spend our days ends up being how we spend our lives. Each day, give first preference to your priorities. Then, allocate whatever time remains to all the things that would otherwise fill up a calendar. Usually, for time-poor professionals, it is the other way around: They have a cluttered schedule filled with urgent but inconsequential tasks. This crowds out the far more important items. You can exhaust yourself by responding to other people’s priorities, or you can impose discipline and protect your priorities.
Parkinson’s Law states that work, and all the other demands on your time, expand to fill every available second. Cut out all the little time sucks that drain your energy. All the unconscious ways we kill time each day add up, which is why if we value time, we must consciously choose how to spend it.
4. Simulate Urgency
When we think we have all the time in the world, we take all the time in the world. Human nature is to defer and delay. We operate at our best when optimal anxiety exists — some pressure, some deadline to force concentrated, deliberate effort. When you add an element of time pressure, real or artificial, it results in a positive urgency to get moving and get things done. Instill that urgency in your daily life and make every minute count.
5. Mind the Opportunity Costs and Time Creep
What is the price of working 70 hours a week to fund a lifestyle you can’t really afford? What else could you be doing? What other possibilities might exist if you didn’t spend your time and energy on low-priority activities?
Time creep reflects the unconscious accumulation of time. Make your time memorable by making it meaningful. A simple way to avoid time creep is to fill your days with intentional activity. Develop an appreciation of time.
6. Audit Your Time
Your schedule reveals how you value time. Take a moment to review your calendar for the past week. What filled the schedule? Do the majority of your commitments support your top priorities? Or do nuisance commitments crowd out the priorities? Are the urgent matters really urgent, or even necessary?
How might you rebalance your schedule? What should or could you subtract from your obligations?
Are You Prepared to Commit to Time?
Think about the common expression “make time.” Making time means just that: relentless, deliberate, directed effort. Time poverty does not have to be the default setting. These six techniques will help you create wealth in time.
Remember, when you control your time, you control your life.