Consider four strategies that have helped many people to invest their time wisely.
Strategy 1: Be Organized
Prepare a to-do list of things that are important or urgent or both, keeping in mind that what is important—buying food for dinner, for example—may not necessarily be urgent. And what may seem urgent—catching the start of your favorite TV program—may not be important.*
Sharpen your ax, as it were, by planning ahead so that you can make the most effective use of your time. Set aside or eliminate nonessential tasks, which do little more than consume time and energy. If you find that you have time on your hands because you have caught up on your work, why not move on to a job that is scheduled for later? By thinking ahead, you increase your productivity, like a wise workman who sharpens his ax.
Simplify your life.
Learn to say no to things that are unimportant or that do little more than consume time. Too many activities and appointments can add needless stress and can rob you of joy.
Strategy 2: Avoid Time Stealers
Procrastination and indecision.
Procrastination is a thief of both time and productivity. A farmer who waits until conditions are perfect may never sow seed or reap his harvest. Similarly, we could allow life’s uncertainties to make us indecisive. Or we may feel that we have to wait until we have every scrap of relevant information before making a decision. To be sure, important decisions warrant research and deliberation. “The shrewd one ponders each step,” says Proverbs 14:15. But the reality is that many decisions involve some uncertainties.—Ecclesiastes 11:6.
Sometimes, though, we might set standards so high that we invite disappointment and even failure. A person learning another language, for example, must be prepared to make mistakes, aware that he will learn from these. A perfectionist, however, would likely shudder at the thought of saying something incorrectly—an attitude that would impede his progress. How much better to be modest in our expectations!
Strategy 3: Be Balanced and Realistic
Balance work and recreation.
Workaholics often deprive themselves of the fruitage of their “two handfuls of hard work.” They simply have no time or energy left. The lazy, on the other hand, opt for “two handfuls” of rest and squander precious time.
Do not scrimp on sleep.
Most adults need about eight hours of sleep a night to gain the full physical, emotional, and cognitive benefits. Concerning the latter, sleep is a sound investment of time because it aids in concentration and consolidates memories, thus fostering learning. Sleep deprivation, however, impedes learning and contributes to accidents, errors, and irritability.
Set realistic goals.
A wise person does not let mere desires take the reins of his life, especially desires that may be unrealistic or impossible to satisfy. Hence, he is not seduced by clever advertising or easy credit. Instead, he learns to be content with what he can actually attain—“what [his] eyes see.”
Strategy 4: Be Guided by Good Values
Consider your values.
Your values enable you to gauge what is good, important, and worthwhile. If your life were an arrow, your values would aim that arrow. Good values, therefore, help you to set sound priorities in life and to make the very best use of your time hour by hour and day by day.
A family enjoying a meal together
Make love your foremost value.
We cannot be truly happy and emotionally secure without love, especially within the family. People who disregard that fact, perhaps giving priority to the pursuit of riches or a career, actually invest in unhappiness.