Protect Your Time!

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Yes, my title is meant to be a yell!  With so many opportunities presented and responsibilities we have, it’s easy to feel that we’re not getting everything we want done.  That’s why we have to make sure we’re protecting our time and focusing on what really matters.  This week I realized that (1) I’ve been in this protection mode for a while now (2) I love it and (3) it’s up to us individually to fight this battle so we can enjoy our lives and achieve our goals.  Here are two principles that are helping me in this battle to protect this house (house = “time”, but feels so good to utter the old Under Armour tag line).

Just Say No! Unless you really want to say “HELL YES”

I am borrowing this principle from one of my favorite entrepreneurs, Derek Sivers.  When presented with an opportunity to do something, the first response I have is “no” unless what I’m really feeling is “HELL YES”!!  This helps tremendously in making quick and unapologetic decisions on where to spend my time or who to spend it with.  I’m referring most specifically to social events, business conferences, meetups, non-profit associations, golf rounds, meetings, etc.  Literally, my answer 9 out of 10 times to invites is NO.  It sounds drastic but trust me, it works darn well.  And now it really feels AWESOME when I say yes.  Like the conference I just returned from.  It was a great use of time!

Figure out what matters to you!

We all have to be very thoughtful about what’s important in our current stage in life.  This sounds simple but it’s not.  Try verbalizing just 2-3 priorities that you would want to focus 98% of your time on and then look at your calendar and see if 98% is the current time split… didn’t thinks so!  Remember, you must protect your house (again, house = time, just love under armor).  For me, I’ve really honed in on my three priorities and they are (1) being a very present family member, (2) staying healthy forever, and (3) building a sustainable business.  Being able to focus on just these priorities has given me great clarity on what to say yes to and also has given me the motivation needed to protect my time that slips away into other activities.  And I have to add that I feel these priorities can change over time (living Agile) and they could also be more specific and measurable as well.  But this is working for me right now.

As I’m sure you’ve heard before, time is our only non-renewable resource so we have to make the best use of it.  In an age of abundant opportunity and choice for most of us, protecting time is our greater challenge.

PS: As I finish this post, I’m landing on my red-eye flight back from San Francisco.  It’s probably why I’m finding Under Armour tagline humorous. 🙂