The gift of time

4 min read


The holiday season is often spent frenetically buying gifts, attending or hosting parties, and celebrating the end of one calendar year and the start of the next.

This activity is in addition to your regular work and life activities. It can be exhausting!

I think we all would be well-served by taking a close look at how we spend our time each day. Are we choosing the most effective ways to act, interact, and behave? If we slow down for a few minutes and analyze how we spend our time, we can refine our choices to serve ourselves and others better.

First, start by being intentional about you. Create a personal constitution* made up of your purpose, values, and leadership philosophy. What is your purpose, your “reason for being” on this planet? Specify what you do, for whom, and how it serves others. Map out the life values or principles that guide what is good and right in your view. Then, define your values in behavioral terms so they are observable and measurable.

Next, define your leadership philosophy. What can your team members expect of you? What do you expect of them? To what end are you leading people?

By formalizing your answers, you’ve created a “best-case scenario” that can serve as a benchmark for how you spend your time.

Second, track how well your time investments match your personal constitution. Spend a couple of weeks noting the activities you engage in daily and how much time you spent on those activities. With an accurate map of how you spend your time, you’ll be able to assess how to tweak your activities to serve others — and yourself — better.

For example, if you value service, you might enjoy interacting with and waiting on customers. That time may inspire you, but might it make more sense to serve your internal, primary customers (your employees) well first? If your team members feel engaged, connected and valued, they’ll serve many more customers well than you can alone.

If you value relationships, you might spend time with your team members and customers but don’t spend as much time with family or friends. Being a good spouse or partner or neighbor or parent takes time, energy, and intention.

Once you map out how you spend your time, you’ll be able to assess where to make changes.

Third, refine, refine, refine. Make slight revisions to where you spend your time so as to live aligned with the things you value. Delegate authority and responsibility to engaged, talented team members. Leave work early an afternoon a week to attend your child’s sports matches. Get enough sleep  — you’re not fun nor productive when you’re sleep-deprived.

Small changes can make a big impact. Make the gift of time — your time — count by balancing your investments in the things that matter most.

What do you think? What would a time analysis show in your current work & life responsibilities? What small changes will make the most positive impact for you and your team and family?

Share your thoughts about this post/podcast in the comments section below.

*My latest book, The Culture Engine, presents a proven framework for creating workplace inspiration with an organizational constitution. Get your sample chapter free.

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