Stop Wasting Your Time!

“Dost thou love life, then do not squander time, for that’s the stuff life is made of.” – Benjamin Franklin (The Way to Wealth, 1757)

To paraphrase the words of Ben Franklin, mentor emeritus of ETR, the one currency of our lives is our time — and how we spend that time is the truest indicator of how we value our lives.

Yesterday, we talked about the fact that to be successful, you need to spend most of your time doing three things: (1) generating new ideas, (2) solving problems, and (3) pushing people to make things happen. The last, though the least creative, is probably the most important. It will (and probably should) take up the lion’s share of your productive time.

Because this is Action Tuesday, do this today: Make a frank assessment of your productivity. Are you making the best and most efficient use of your time? Do you . . .

  • plan your days or let your days plan you?
  • put out fires and assure yourself that you have no other choice?
  • take care of the small things because they are there, leaving the big things for another day?
  • avoid the difficult conversations, hard phone calls, and tough decisions?

Do you spend time defending yourself? Resenting criticism? Rationalizing mediocrity? Do you daydream? Do you piddle? Do you take and make personal phone calls during work hours? Do you play computer games or surf the Internet on company time?

It is easy to rationalize wasted time. But at the end of the day, at the end of the year, at the end of your life, those rationalizations won’t do you any good.

When it comes time to look back and reflect on your accomplishments, you will not be able to count all your dreams and desires. You’ll have nothing to count but what you have actually done — and the recognition of all that you didn’t.

Stop right now and ask yourself this: If you were to die tomorrow, would you be satisfied with all you’ve done so far?

If “yes,” you are a rara avis indeed. If “no,” get to work. The time left to you may be less than you imagine. Each year that passes will disappear more quickly than the last. The time to get going on your important goals — especially the ones you haven’t started on — is now.

Now means today. Identify the goal you’ve left behind. Do one single, positive thing to advance that goal. Do it today. Not this evening. Before the sun goes down.

[Ed. Note.  Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]