“Nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely.” Auguste Rodin.
Everyone has begun a task or project, or spent time thinking about what to do and not yet acted on it. It may be that things planned don’t turn out. Worse, they’re never started. Is all that time wasted? While the obvious response could be yes, the opposite is true – but with a caveat. You’ll never waste time if you use the experience wisely. But how do you do that? Here are some suggestions on how to use time wisely.
Life consists of moments. Strung together, they equal the passage of time. Yet it’s impossible to see the time, for humans exist in the present. They remember the past and envision the future, but the only time they must act is now. Even more, a reason to figure out ways to use time wisely. Still, making plans for achieving a goal that requires multiple steps or years to complete means it’s necessary to think long-term.
What does that mean?
Instead of contemplating immediate rewards for actions taken, exercise the discipline to forego a reward now by being patient. See what the future holds when diligent effort pays off for each stage of the goal. And it’s imperative to set benchmark interim goals to be able to see the progress from all the efforts to date.
Some short-term actions may be boring, although they’re necessary. No one gets to the top of the corporate ladder starting at entry-level and vaulting to the executive suite by skipping certain prerequisite steps. It’s necessary to work your way up. Unless, of course, you’re the heir-apparent in a family-owned company or corporation. Even then, the board of directors may have something to say about who takes over as CEO.
Bottom line: See each minor success as another stepping-stone on the way to goal achievement. If it’s worthwhile, it will pay to use this time as wisely as possible. Thinking long-term is a proven strategy to make the best use of time.
Switch Up the Routine to Use Time Wisely
If daily tasks become so boring, they’re something to dread, one sure-fire way to get through everything is to switch up the routine. Instead of starting the day with an unenjoyable task, begin with a quick task that is pleasant or gives an immediate reward. That could be as simple as stopping by the supervisor’s office or desk and talking about what priorities she wants for today. Be sure to engage in pleasantries for a bit. Acknowledge her family or a recent accolade she’s received, or how the team pitched in to exceed a goal or snag an account.
After a few minutes, return to your workspace and take up one of the items on today’s to-do list. Spend some time tackling that project or task yet have a set time to devote to it before diving in on something else. By setting a time limit, the mind gets tricked into working smarter to accomplish more during that time. Besides, you’ll need a break after devoting all your attention to the task at hand.
For another quick reward, and to improve productivity overall, intersperse the routine with a walk outside. This could be at lunch or a coffee break or to confer with associates on the next steps for a team project.
Note that switching up the routine works just as well for employees working from home. We’ve all gotten practiced at getting things done from the home environment. That doesn’t mean we forget about good self-care. Fresh air is an excellent way to recharge the brain and get some sunshine in the process. These are excellent ways to use time wisely.
Share What Works with Others
In group meetings, brainstorming often yields solutions to complex problems. Much of what occurs during brainstorming is tossing out ideas about what’s worked well before or a suggestion based on personal experience. Sharing what works with others opens a discussion. This may dovetail with one or more of the suggestions. Or it could veer off in another direction based on something new that the group arrives at during the brainstorming session.
Sharing can take place without it being a group activity. When faced with the task of strategizing for a long-term goal, put together an action plan and timeline using parts of previously successful campaigns. Divide the work into manageable chunks. Assign relevant tasks to those best suited to them. Confer regularly to check in and see where things stand and who may need help. Celebrating the small wins with others also constitutes sharing what works.
Keep in mind that it doesn’t have to be a huge solution. Shortcuts that save time and result in improved productivity are always welcome. Think of this as a tip of the day. Even if the tip doesn’t always work, it may work some time or work for someone else. This is yet another straightforward way to use time wisely.
Find the Lesson in the Heartache
What about personal setbacks and heartache? Sometimes these events seem like time stretched out with infinite pain. Going through depression or anxiety, supporting someone’s recovery from an illness, accident, or substance abuse, and helping someone grieve are some examples. Yet here, too, some lessons can prove valuable in how to use time wisely.
For one thing, the experience, while painful and endless, will end. Things will improve, although recognizing that it will take time and continued effort to get through it may be difficult to do. You’ll find that you’re stronger than you think and possess reserves that build on natural resiliency. You can get through this. That’s a lesson many people discover once they’re on the other side of the heartache. Some learn it while amid their suffering.
When someone’s at the end of their life, they’re not going to find joy and comfort in what’s in their bank account. It’s better to do the best you can each minute of every day. Live fully in the present. Give yourself to others when you can. Money and material possessions mean nothing in the end. What does matter is life and the life you’ve lived. Each moment is precious. Celebrate that and you’ll be on your way to using your time wisely.
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