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By: Dr Afiniki Akanet, author of Fortitude and Life Without Coffee (Choosing Happiness Over Stress)
Posted on: Apr 4, 2019

Recognizing the Value of Time - A Step Toward Effective Time Management

We all have 24 hours in a day and 7 days in a week. Why is it that some people are able to achieve more with theirs than others? We also know that some people get paid more than others for their time. Is it just a game of chance, or is there more to it? The first step toward effective time management is learning that every moment has value - and how you choose to spend your time ultimately impacts your long term goals.

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Time versus money

It is easy to agree that a professional earns lots more per hour than a less skilled worker because of the years of training the professional has had and the amount of responsibility they carry, especially where, for example, their decisions can mean the difference between life and death. It is a bit more difficult to understand when we try to rationalise this dynamic in terms of other professions, such as sportsmen and business people, who sometimes do not need any qualifications to be successful at their professions. We could say that maybe they are valued more for their talent and ability, which they may or may not have done anything to gain.

I personally believe that there are many attributes that cannot be valued in terms of money. Just because an office worker gets paid more than a janitor does not mean that his time is more precious. There are many office workers that could take two days off work without being noticed, but most of us would notice if a place has not been cleaned for that long. Stay-at-home parents do not get paid for their time, but the time they spend with their children is priceless to the children and the family overall, especially if their time at home makes it possible for a partner to go to work.

Society will often equate the amount of time spent on a task with money earned, but that's just not accurate. There are valuable tasks being completed every minute that are meaningful to families and communities, but are not rewarded with money. We must still value and recognize the time spent on these important tasks.

What makes time so valuable?

The question then is, what makes time valuable? Is it what we do in that time or how we do it? I recently watched an animated family movie about a mummy pig with 25 piglets that wanted to go for a singing audition, but could not get childcare. Her husband was too busy and engrossed in his own work to notice that she needed help. She spent one night creating an invention with recorded clips of her voice to tell the family all the things she usually said in the morning and give them all the help they needed, so she could escape for her audition the next day. It was clearly an invention only movie mums can create - in one night! It was great that it all worked as she expected, but it was sad that the husband and children did not even notice that she was not there, as long as they all got their breakfast and packed lunches, with the recorded clip bidding them goodbye. What that mummy pig achieved in one hour of every morning, like many mothers today, most people do not get done in their whole day. The challenge comes with putting the extra factor into whatever we do, so that is it meaningful to us or someone else, and it cannot be easily replaced.

I think the value of time is neither derived from what we do or how we do it, but by the outcome of the time spent. Give a surgeon one hour with an inflamed appendix and he will have sorted it. Give him ten hours with business accounts, and he may still be scratching his head at the end of the day. The value of that surgeon's time is greatly increased by working on tasks that he is skilled at completing, because the output has greater value, regardless of the amount of time used for each task. The same one hour that two office workers get for lunch break can be used to write a life-changing article, or complain about bosses over coffee - but most likely, the time spent writing that life-changing article has greater value to the larger community.

We all have different skills and talents, interests and strengths, but it is possible to make everyday count when we realise that time is precious and cannot be recovered once lost. If we set goals to improve the results from time spent on daily tasks, we (and others) will place greater value on that time. Even 30 minutes spent doing something you love, and doing it well, has tremendous value. This is the first step in development solid time management skills.

Gaining control of your time to improve time management

We can invest time into developing ourselves so that we are able to achieve our long term goals, or we can sit back and watch others do so. Whether we want to get paid more for our time or get more done with it, we will need to improve ourselves and our attitudes daily. Effort spent on tasks that may seem like time wasted today, if done as part of a greater vision for your life, could produce rewards you never even imagined. Even the daily routines of life can be done with purpose and precision, to make time more valuable in our hands and make success more likely. This can sometimes mean rearranging schedules, planning better, getting help, learning new skills, partnering with others or dropping unhelpful habits.

Whether you are thinking of the years you have to raise your children, or the months before your exams or the days before your important presentation - only you can make that time of real value, when you choose to make the most of every hour and be the best you everyday.