Time is our most valuable and finite resource. But often in this age of buzzing devices and communication overload we can feel like we just don't have enough of it. Like a hamster running around a wheel, we end up feeling simultaneously burnt out while going no-where.
But it doesn't have to be this way. Time, like money, performs best when we invest it wisely. So it makes sense that understanding the principals of time investment could leave you with more hours in the day to pursue the things you love.
Embrace an investment strategy
The key to getting results in any area of your life is to make sure you have a strategy. The same goes for how you invest your time.
The first step is be clear about your goals. Think about what you're working towards and how much time you'll need to commit to them.
Once you have an estimation of the hours you'll need, see how you can reorganise your time budget to fit things in. If your time budget is stretched, it might mean you need to delegate certain tasks to others. This could mean different things to different people. At work it may mean delegating administrative tasks to leave you more time to focus on strategy. On the home front, it could mean getting a hand with the garden or lawn mowing, hiring a cleaner, or having groceries delivered to your door.
Pay yourself first
Often when planning out the week, the temptation is to leave the activities we find meaningful until last, hoping to pursue them in whatever time remains after more urgent responsibilities are attended to. The problem with this strategy: inevitably all those tasks take longer than expected, leaving no time for what makes you happy.
The solution to this problem is to pay yourself first. If something really means a lot to you, put it on the top of your priority list and do it first thing in the morning when you're feeling fresh and alert. Starting your day with something you love will leave a psychological afterglow that may make you more efficient with the rest of your tasks anyway.
Diversification is key
Any good investment strategy should straddle a diverse range of asset classes, the same applies for time. If you become too fixated on one activity, you'll end up burnt out and bored. But if you fill each day with a mixture of activities and break them up accordingly, you'll feel invigorated and fulfilled.
The other trick here is to know when to pursue what. Creative tasks may benefit from the energy of mornings, while administrative ones are sometimes easier in the afternoon when your mind has slowed down a bit and you're not jumping from thought to thought.
Though none of us are getting any younger it is fair to say that time well invested delivers compounding returns over the long term. Think about any new task or hobby you take on like learning a language or an instrument. At first, it's exceptionally difficult, and the return in terms of happiness or fulfillment is low. But the more you practice, the better you get, and the return gets higher and higher as time goes by.
The same goes for upskilling for work. The extra study hours may at first seem a turn off, but the reward that is career longevity, salary or status shift may be worth it. Similarly, exercising and healthy eating take time out of our days, but the ensuing wellbeing compounds over the years, building a buffer against disease and the deteriorating effects of age.
How you invest your time can have a significant impact on the value you take from each day. So if you're looking for compounding returns this year, it might be worth taking your schedule off auto pilot and working out a time investment strategy that works for you.