Where Did My Day Go?

by Joel Thigpen

How many times a week do you say, “Where did my day go?”.  Or, “I need more hours in a day” or worse yet, “Why can’t I make more progress?” 

Well, you are not alone. Just about everyone complains about not having enough time to get the tasks they are responsible for done. What we are really talking about however is productivity. In a broad sense, production is concerned with the overall effectiveness of getting things done or performing well.  In the context of a business or organization, it is the measure of how efficiently goods and services are delivered.

Productivity is determined by working on high-payoff activities, and high payoff activities mean spending time doing the right thing, at the right time, in the right way for the right length of time. When we spend time working on high payoff activities, we are working smarter, not harder!

The saying, “Time is money,” is so often repeated we tend to for that it is literally true. In fact, time is the most precious resource we possess.  We cannot make any more of it, we cannot hoard it, we cannot get it back after it is lost and we cannot work harder to earn more time. All we can do is invest the time we have in order to get the best return on our “time capital.” On the positive side, time is the one resource over which we can exert the most control to increase productivity and performance. Everyone’s productivity is a direct measure of how wisely they invest your time. 

When we waste time, we are losing productivity and the “opportunity” or benefit to which that time could have been used.  This lost productivity has a cost just as the benefit we could have realized has a value. From a personal standpoint, how much is lost productivity costing you (and your organization)?  What could you (or your organization have realized in incremental benefit if time was used effectively and productively?  So, what is the value of your time? 

The following steps should help answer this question and provide a thought process of helping you manage your time to become more productive.

  1. Calculate what your time is worth.  Think in terms of every hour you spend on a task as a direct investment of the amount of money that you determine your time is worth.  The calculation is simple enough. Divide your annual earnings by 244 eight-hour working days or 1952 hours. Then, divide this hourly rate by 60 to get the value of each minute. 
  2. Ask, “how many of the tasks you accomplish each day are actually worth this rate of pay. Once you have determined the value of your time you can make judgments about how to use each hour for the maximum productivity and benefit.
  3. After examining all the activities that make up your day, decide which of these is worth less than the amount of time you must invest to accomplish it.
  4. With this knowledge, decide whether that activity should be eliminated, simplified or delegated to someone whose time costs less than yours. 

Reserve your valuable time for activities meriting that rate of investment.  Once you understand the worth of your time and set specific goals for its wise use, you will start to reap huge dividends in terms of productivity and accomplishment and/or more free time to pursue other life pleasures.

Joel Thigpen  is a Victory Lap Architect with The McGrail Group (www.mcgrailgroup.com); a leadership, productivity, membership development and performance improvement company located in Raleigh, NC, affiliated with Leadership Management International.  Acknowledgement: “Effective Personal Productivity” by Paul J. Meyer, Randy Slechta and LMI.