There are high-value uses of your time and low-value uses of your time. And a lack of clarity about the value of your actions will hurt your productivity.
What exactly do we mean by high-value and low-value?
The value comes from the degree to which the action produces the results that are most important to you. Those results might be tangible like money, quantifiable like losing weight, or subjective like happiness.
Let me use a conversation I recently overheard at the supermarket as an example to illustrate how this lack of clarity might show up in one’s life.
A woman–let’s call her Jane–was telling a story about her employer. Jane was leaving her job. A friend of hers–let’s call him Bill–had interviewed as her replacement, and the manager had offered him the position. Bill asked for a few days to think about it, which the manager agreed to.
But when Jane came in to work the next day, she found an announcement that someone else–not Bill–had been given the position.
Naturally, Jane was shocked and upset. Her friend, Bill, had been misled.
We’ve all heard similar stories of injustice. But notice what happened next…
Jane proceeded to describe all the reasons why any rational person would NOT want to work for this company. The gossip, the office politics, the petty grudges, the power trips.
Do you see what’s strange about that?
Let me use an analogy to explain.
Let’s say someone promises you a gift–a big box with shiny wrapping paper and a ribbon on top. But then they give that gift to someone else.
You’d probably feel hurt. Maybe even wronged or offended or betrayed.
But what if the box was opened to reveal a big smelly turd. Literally a bowel movement. Disgusting!
How crazy would it be to stay upset over that? It’s a turd in a box!
So Jane was spending all kinds of time and energy complaining about how her friend, Bill, was jipped out of a turd of a job.
Remember, the value of an action is determined by the degree to which it produces the results that you want.
What are some of the results that Jane might want? A job for Bill. An apology for herself or for Bill. The company to change its policies. A feeling that the world is fair and just.
How likely will complaining at a supermarket produce those results? Not likely at all.
If you find yourself short on time for the things that are most important to you, first identify low-value activities in your life, and eliminate them as much as possible. Blaming, complaining, and gossiping are some examples. Anything that takes time and does not produce a result that’s important to you.
Second, identify your highest-value actions–the things that actually DO produce the results you want–and do them more often.
In this simple way, you’ll increase your productivity and get more of the results you most want in life, in less time.
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Copyright 2007 Curtis G. Schmit