Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have Twenty-four hour days. – Zig Ziglar
The real secret to managing your time for effective goal attainment both professionally and personally is mastering the concept of what economists call, opportunity cost.
Opportunity cost in finance, as defined by Robert C. Guell in his book, Issues in Economics Today is:
The foregone alternative of the choice made.
In simple terms, this means that every choice we make eliminates doing the alternative to the choice we made. If we let Aunt Gertrude (well loved though she may be) talk our ear off on the phone for an hour before lunch, that’s an hour before lunch permanently lost, that we might have spent writing our notes for that presentation we need to deliver, which could result in a promotion.
So, we need to decide what is worth our time and what isn’t worth our time. To do otherwise is to run the risk of allowing time-wasters and distractions to boar unproductive holes in our schedule, which in turn means:
- We lose focus
- Without focus, we lose direction
- Without direction we make poor choices
- Poor choices waste potential opportunities
To stay focused we need a new appreciation for how best to ‘spend’ our time.
A Perspective on Opportunity Cost
Apoorve Dubey has said:
The price tag you put on yourself decides your worth. Underestimating yourself will cost you dearly.
Try This: Estimate your hourly worth. To do this, search the Internet for the salary for your dream job. Now break that salary down into an hourly wage. For the sake of discussion, let’s say the hourly wage comes to $35.00.
Now, go buy a bunch of play money from the toy store. Get a big jar.
Next, every time you catch yourself playing solitaire on your computer at work, or every time Aunt Gertrude commandeers your precious time, make a note of the time you spent.
You guessed it, every time your time gets wasted, put the dollar amount that reflects your time spent in the jar. Watch how quickly $35.00 becomes $70.00 and then $140.00 and so on. Do this for a week or two.
The purpose of this exercise is to use dollar amounts to drive home the point that we can either squander our time or utilize it properly. Seeing this ‘for real’ provides perspective on just how much we can allow into our lives time-drain and therefore, wasted opportunity.
Once you have things in proper perspective, you’ll automatically begin to make better choices when it comes to utilizing your time more productively – you’ll assess the opportunity cost of doing one thing rather than the other while maintaining focus and direction.
Applying the concept of opportunity cost to the task of effectively managing your time is the real secret to achieving all your personal and career goals.
Please share your thoughts and insights on time management in the Comments section below.
In the meantime,