New Castle News

December 13, 2012

Tim Kolodziej: Five strategies for making the most of your time

Tim Kolodziej
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — You probably haven’t thought about it much, but you have more in common with Thomas Edison than you might think.

Same goes for Helen Keller, Martin Luther King Jr., Billy Graham and Michael Jordan.

About 24 things, to be exact.

That’s how many hours are in a day. And that’s how many hours each day that some of the most notable people to walk the planet have had to work with.

So do you.

I know, I know. Some days we feel a little cheated, like we’ve gotten 18 or so while others got the full two-dozen.

But time doesn’t discriminate. Although we like to preach equality from our nation’s capital down, the clock just might be our only hope in that area.

It doesn’t see color. It doesn’t worry about your age or income. It doesn’t even care if you’re lazy or ambitious.

It just keeps ticking. And ticking. And ticking.

So, how do we make the most of that time? How do drink deeply from our days, savor our successes and forge ahead after our failures — and still find time to eat, drink and go to the bathroom?

Here’s the simple answer: Choose what you will do with this day.

That’s it. I’ve got nothin’ else for you.

We all have the same 24 hours. We can spend them, invest them or waste them.

That’s good news, right? You don’t HAVE to do anything today if you don’t want to.

You always have a choice. Always.

Last week in this blog (read part 1 here), I was pretty transparent and shared my struggles with managing a given day. Today, I’d like to offer a glimpse of hope and let you know it IS possible to overcome the weight of busyness.

But you will have to be intentional. You must swim against the current. Focus on your true priorities.

Think differently than you’ve ever thought before.

That said, I’ll share a couple of quotes, a strategy, an acrostic and a short story to get my point across.

Use whatever works for you. Or use nothing I present.

It’s your call. And it’s your time.

You always have a choice. Always.



QUOTES ABOUT OUR TIME

•“It’s not about managing your time. It’s about managing your priorities and energy.” — Stephen Covey

•“It’s not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is, what are we busy about?” — Henry David Thoreau

•“It has been my observation that most people get ahead during the time that others waste.” — Henry Ford

•“Today, you are the oldest you’ve ever been, and the youngest you'll ever be again. You are perfectly positioned between experience and opportunity.” — Author Unknown

I couldn’t have said it better myself. So I won’t even try.



THE BIG ROCKS STRATEGY

You may have heard the parable about filling a jar with rocks and sand. If you fill the jar with sand first — a methaphor for the little distractions in life — then your big rocks (priorities) won’t have much room inside the glass container. But if you drop the big rocks into the jar first, the sand will have plenty of room to fit as well.

So, that begs the question: What are your “big rocks?” What are the non-negotiable priorities of your life?

Mine are my relationship with God, my wife, and my children — in that order.

Then comes work, valued friendships, physical fitness, coaching and reading — in that order.

My greatest stress occurs when these priorities get out of whack.

If I remain true to what I believe is important in my life, then my demeanor is usually relaxed and filled with joy, despite my circumstances. And I’m better able to handle the “emergencies” if I know they are connected to my priority areas.

As an exercise, take a few moments to get quiet and jot down your “big rocks.”

Decide what or who is truly valuable in your life.

Then live like it.



AN ACROSTIC FOR OUR TIME

You’ve probably heard that to do two things at once is to do neither.

In other words, multi-tasking is like pushing a river. It might feel like you’re getting ahead, but we all know better.

Here is a great acrostic I picked up on a podcast a few months ago.

F — Follow

O — One

C — Course

U — Until

S — Success

Focus, focus, focus.



THE MEXICAN FISHERMAN

This is one of my favorite stories. I’m not sure who wrote it, but I read it most recently in Dan Miller’s book, “When Wisdom Meets Passion.”

An American investment banker was taking a much-needed vacation in a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. The boat had several large, fresh fish in it.

The investment banker was impressed by the quality of the fish and asked the Mexican how long it took to catch them. The Mexican replied, “Only a little while.” The banker then asked why he didn’t stay out longer and catch more fish.

The Mexican fisherman replied he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs.

The American then asked, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”

The Mexican fisherman replied, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take a siesta with my wife, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life, sir.”

The investment banker scoffed. “I am an Ivy League MBA, and I could help you. You could spend more time fishing and with the proceeds buy a bigger boat, and with the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats until eventually you would have a whole fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to the middleman you could sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You could control the product, processing and distribution.”

Then he added, “Of course, you would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City where you would run your growing enterprise.”

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But sir, how long will this all take?”

To which the American replied, “about 15 to 20 years.”

“But what then?” asked the Mexican.

The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right, you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich. You could make millions.”

“Millions? Then what?”

To which the investment banker replied, “Then you would retire. You could move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take a siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”



THE FINAL WORD

In the end, there’s a one-word question that may be more helpful to manage your day than any strategy invented.

“Why?”

•Why do I feel a need to go THERE?

•Why do I feel it’s necessary to watch THAT?

•Why did I just say YES when I knew I was already overscheduled?

•Why am I so busy DOING that I often forget about actually LIVING?

Take a few moments to ponder that question.

I promise it will be time well spent.