I recently heard of a contractor who charged for their thinking time… He’d actually bill you for the hours he spent thinking about your project, before he’d even done any work on providing a solution. I’ve worked with design agencies before, and seen the total bill go way over budget as projects are ‘re-worked’ until we get something we’re happy with, but I’ve never heard of charging for time.
Then later, with a very different group of people, one of my friends came out with an overly pensive quote:
“Time is your most precious gift because you only have a set amount of it. You can make more money, but you can’t make more time. When you give someone your time, you are giving them a portion of your life that you’ll never get back. Your time is your life. That is why the greatest gift you can give someone is your time“ originally quoting Rick Warren
For some reason these two events locked together in my mind and led me to reflect on just how important time is. It’s true, it’s the one thing you’ll never get back and it’s constantly ticking away. During my reflection I began to ask myself, “if my time is so important, how am I choosing to spend it?”. Of course the first thing that comes back is WORK! Our jobs take up such a huge amount of our time, and often the trade off for hours spent working: to hours spent resting just doesn’t seem fair. But work is necessary, it provides a good income and I’m sure all that hard work must be doing me some good.
But what about my time outside of work, the precious hours each evening, and the two days of freedom at the weekend. How do I spend my time? Often it’s chasing after things I think will make me happier in the future. Investing hours / days into coding new projects that I think will impress others or end up making me money, but life is too precious for this, isn’t it?
If you’re feeling stressed, burnt out and like there’s not enough hours in the day then try this. Take some time, just 20 minutes to sit and write down all the things you’re trying to do. Place that list aside and start a new list, what’s the most important things in your life? This is tricky and hard to switch from your immediate tasks, to life long importance so allow yourself some time to think. The question that best helps sort these issues is “at the end of my life, what would I look back fondly on, what would I wish I’d done better or spent more time doing?”
Now go back to your first list, the present tasks…. where are they leading you? are they related and in order of the most important things? If you’re like me they often won’t even include the important things. We get so easily distracted, sidetracked, consumed with ideas that some things need to be done, but to what end? Take some time to think about the important list, and how you could spend your time and prioritise your goals.