Time is one of your most valuable, irreplaceable assets. Keep that in mind when you are deciding what you will and will not do. Is the time you spend doing something commensurate with the value you put on the task at hand?
Clearly this does not mean that you need to micromanage every minute of your day; it does not mean that you shouldn’t do things that seem “unproductive” or even “frivolous”. (Unproductive and frivolous activities can carry a lot of value at times!) What it does mean is that learning how to say “no” (when that is your desire) could free up years, over the course of your life.
How you spend your time, is your choice; a choice that is based on your values. If you are choosing to “waste” or “give away” your time, it speaks to your values. Just like we spend money on that which we value, so it goes with time. Assessing how you are spending your time may help you re-assess your values and your goals. This level of awareness could just change how you spend your time; and that could change your life!
As counselors, we are very familiar with the exchange of time for money. Dollars for hours. Here are a few tips that might help you determine where you stand with your time; how you feel about that; and what you might like to change for the better.
Know what your time is worth
It’s tough to put a financial value on time when you consider it in life breaths. Suffice it to say that each moment you spend is a moment that you’ll never get back. That’s an existential reality that we cannot deny. We should take into consideration the: financial; emotional; physical; and spiritual benefits of that for which we are giving our time. Spending time with those you love, walking on the beach, and reading a good book might be well worth the time you allot. How many of us would cash in all of our chips for one more hour with someone we miss.
Now, let’s take it down a notch and determine what your time is worth with regard to your work life. How much money can you make (on average), per hour, working with clients? Use that as your anchor point. Refer to that anchor when you are trying to decide what you want to do at work (who you want to see; what type of services you want to provide); if you should do something yourself; or delegate it to someone else.
Be efficient with your time
If you have a choice between seeing a client for an hour or doing an administrative task, it might make more sense to see that client. Surely there are some administrative and marketing tasks that you need to do yourself (that’s part of the cost of doing business). You might even enjoy doing some administrative tasks, and that is a benefit that carries high value. However, when faced with a choice like that, make it knowing what your time is worth.
If there are tasks associated with running your practice that you procrastinate about and simply “hate” doing, consider reaching out for some help. When you consider the time and effort you are wasting, you may find that paying someone else actually SAVES YOU money and/or allows you to utilize that time doing something that you value more. Consider which assistant (or “virtual assistant”) might help you maximize the value of your time!
Respect your time, and expect others to do so as well
Running late all of the time can cause undue stress and frustration for you and your clients. Be on time for your appointments; end sessions on time. If you habitually run over, consider using a chime to let you know you have only 10 minutes left in your session so you can “wind down”. You set the tone when it comes to respect for your time. If you start and end sessions efficiently your clients will soon know that you value your time (and theirs).
When it comes to filling out forms for clients, consider including your clients in the process. Have them come in for an appointment so you can gather the information you need to complete the forms; complete them in session. If that won’t work, consider charging your hourly fee for completion of any forms or collaborations that are out of the ordinary. Be sure to establish these policies right from the start so clients know what to expect. This, too, sets a tone of respect for time.
Where do you currently stand with regard to your awareness of and respect for your time? What needs to change? No “time” like the present 🙂