Time. Squandered or Invested?

Time. Squandered or Invested?

Ever feel like you just squandered your time?  Why?  You chose to spend that time exactly as you did, so why do you feel like you wasted it? I just spent the last twenty minutes staring at the scene pictured above.  A few unpleasant thoughts crossed my mind during that twenty minutes… You know, those thoughts telling me what I “should” be doing – other than drinking in the serenity and peace of the setting, and the moments.

Were there other things I could have been doing during that twenty minutes? Of course there were!  However, I was feeling distracted, a little anxious, and kind of annoyed before I began staring out the window. I could have charged into my next “to-do” (which happened to be writing this blog – albeit a different topic), but I know myself well enough to know it would have taken me longer than necessary, and probably wouldn’t have been high quality. Inferior quality would mean coming back to it later; most likely doing heavy editing; and/or scrapping it altogether and starting over.  Work produced while distracted and anxious usually equals inefficiencies and inaccuracies.  I’d call that squandered time.

Indeed, there were other things I could have done with that time, but nothing else I should have been doing.  When I realized I was staring at that beautiful scene, and not really thinking about anything, I chose to stay.  I chose to invest that time in calming my mind, clearing unproductive thoughts and feelings, and regaining clarity and focus. I made a deliberate choice to invest that precious time in me, and I’m glad I did!

No one was looking for me or waiting on information from me, during that time, but what if they had been?

Well that would have created a whole different outcome!  Instead of creating clarity and calm, that twenty minutes would have brought on more stress – for me and the people waiting one me.  It would have created a perception of me that would be difficult for me to shake. A perception that indicates I am disorganized, don’t care, or even believe that my time is more valuable than theirs.

What’s my point today?  It’s simple.  Pay attention to your time and invest it wisely.  If I had a meeting or deadline looming during those glorious twenty minutes, I would have chosen differently.  I still would have done something to clear my head and regain focus, but it would have been more like 30 seconds of intentional breathing, or taking-in that beautiful scene for just one minute, before returning to my commitments.

 A very wise trauma and grief counselor once shared this wisdom with me:

Consider your choices, then select what will create the least amount of stress.”

Think about the time you have today, tomorrow, this week. Begin with reviewing your commitments:

  • What meetings are scheduled or need to be scheduled?
  • What projects need your attention?
  • Who is waiting on information or feedback from you?
  • What must happen in order to produce quality outcomes and stay ahead of deadlines?
  • What are your best choices, in order to be the person you intend to be and be perceived in the way you’d like to be perceived?  Now do that.

Stop feeling like you squandered your time!  Start deliberately choosing how you invest it, and owning your choices. Whatever you choose, honor it by giving it your full attention. No judgment, no blame, no resentment necessary. Invest your time intentionally, and enjoy the peace of knowing you made the right choices. If staring out the window for the next few minutes will help calm you, and bring clarity and focus to your next to-do item (and no one is expecting anything from you right now), enjoy it!

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