Your currency is time

Your currency is time

The late, great Steve Jobs said this:

“My favorite things in life don’t cost any money. It’s really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time.”

Everyone from Benjamin Franklin to Shakespeare to the Rolling Stones has had something to say about time. But frankly, the Rolling Stones were wrong. Time is not on anyone’s side.  

You can’t stop time or slow it down, but what you can do, especially when you’re running your own business, is respect your own time.

Time is money, right?

Well, yes and no. You can make a fortune, lose that fortune and make another one (just ask Richard Branson) but you can’t get back time. It is a truly finite resource for everyone, making it the most valuable thing we all have.

If you’ve just started your own business, chances are it is taking up a whole lot of your time. That’s not a bad thing. In fact, it’s probably inevitable. But you need to look at how you are using that time.

  • Are you agonising over every small decision?
  • Are you spending hours on tasks that someone else could do more quickly and/or better?
  • Are you doing ‘busywork’ to avoid tasks you’d rather not tackle?
  • Are you a manic multi-tasker?

Don’t sweat the small stuff

If you are overthinking all your decisions, you’re wasting time and burdening yourself with stress you don’t need. It’s important to be clear with yourself which decisions do merit serious consideration, and which ones are really just not that important.

If you do get stuck on something, and you really feel that you can’t make the decision, then put it aside and come back to it later. Go away and do something more productive with your time!

You might also think about asking for someone else’s perspective – a business partner (if you have one), a mentor, a trusted friend. They might not have the answers for you, but sometimes laying out your thought processes to someone can actually help you find the answer yourself.  

Know your strengths

Let’s say you’re an incredible designer and you’re building a great client list, but you hate doing your accounts. You leave it until the last possible moment, then spend ages trying to work it all out. You don’t want to pay a bookkeeper because it seems like an unnecessary expense when things are tight.

That’s a false economy. Pay someone to do your books, and you can put your own precious time to doing the work you’re good at – and that you went into business to do!

In a minute …

Procrastination. We’ve all been there. Instead of sitting down and doing what needs to be done, you decide you just need to check your email again, or organise some paperwork, or … Next thing you know, it’s two hours later and you still haven’t started. And now you feel bad about yourself too.

You won’t get those two hours back, but there are ways to get moving next time you hit that wall.

  • Stop beating yourself up. So, you just wasted two hours. Fine. Nobody’s perfect.  
  • Just start. Once you do, chances are you’ll find it wasn’t as difficult as you were imagining – and you’ll create your own momentum.
  • Break it down. If you’re avoiding something because it seems too big or overwhelming, split it into smaller components and start by just doing one.
  • Remember why. You started your business for a reason, right? Remind yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing.
  • Be realistic. Perfectionism is not helpful. Something done well enough is always better than something not done at all. Plus you can come back later.

Multi-tasking is not all that

It used to be a badge of honour to be a great multi-tasker, but that era is over. Numerous studies have shown that multi-tasking is less productive than doing one thing at a time — it reduces your ability to focus and can even have longer-term negative effects on your brain.

So, if you need to do something, do that thing. Set aside the time you need and focus all your attention on the task.

Downtime is important too

No matter how busy you are, you need to take time off. Managing your work time better should free up non-work time — don’t waste that opportunity. Do things you love, spend time with your favourite people, move your body. A relaxed and revived body and mind make you better at everything you do.

And if you’ve got some spare time, you might like to read:

  • Time is the new money
  • Tim Ferriss’s best-selling The 4-Hour Workweek
  • Why multitasking is bad for your brain