Value of time
In an interview done for a Netflix documentary, Inside Bill’s Brain: Decode Bill Gates, the interviewer asked Bill Gates’ Executive Administrators, “Is he on time?” Referring to Bill Gates. She replied, “He is on time to the minute every single meeting without fail.” Then she added, “Time is the one commodity that he can’t buy more of. It’s a limited resource. It’s finite. He’s got the same 24 hours in a day that the rest of us have.” As I write this and reflect on Bill’s interview, we have spent 353 days so far this year and the one major question that is at the center of my mind is this, what’s the value of the time that we have got in our hands?
Without much debate, we can agree that time is one of the most precious nonrenewable resources we are all given to use, exploit, and utilize with all other resources. With time you can dig out gold. You can refine crude oil into different petroleum products. And most importantly you need time to tap into and expand your second most valuable resource, your mind. Time is the main thing that you must have to be productive. And productivity is the true indicator of the value of time.
To be the richest person on the planet for years, Bill Gates uses the two most valuable resources, time and the mind, to produce the highest value through Microsoft and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and improve the quality of many people’s lives. This provides us the definition of productivity, which is the ability to use the resource(s) we have to generate more value in order to positivity impact lives.
Further into the interview I referenced above, Bill Gates advised, “You have to pick a pretty finite number of things to tell your mind to work on. You should decide what should you care about.” In essence Gates was unveiling the first step to productivity given that we all have the same amount of time; deliberateness. Anybody can be busy but not everyone can be productive. Busyness doesn’t really need anyone’s effort but being productive calls for one’s intentionality: It requires deliberate thinking and actions. This is why in today’s post I want to share with you the keys that you can deliberately use to unlock productivity in your work. I have seen the keys work for me in the last one year. Here they are:
1. Staying organized
Looking for misplaced items is an enemy to productivity. Being productive at any work requires us to use time in the most efficient way. But whenever we take time out of what’s important to look for something that is misplaced, we are not being efficient with our time. Staying organized is the antidote for not wasting time looking for misplaced items. As simple as keeping your workstation neat might look, it can improve your productivity significantly.
Staying organized helps productivity in three major ways; first it helps you find things easily and faster. Placing items in designated places, whether tangible items such as tools or intangible items like your files on a computer, will greatly save you a lot of effort when it comes to retrieving them for use. Second it smoothens the workflow. Whenever you take time to look for something that is not immediately available, your thoughts are taken away from the important work to a less important task that could have been avoided if there was some organization. Third, it eliminates potential distracters. From experience, I have discovered that any time I step away or leave what I am doing to go in search for something, I find other things that grab my attention away from the important work. We get distracted easily with unimportant tasks when we are not organized. Finding the best way to stay organized, wherever your workspace is, will enable you to make the best of the time you have and also will support the second key to productivity, a disciplined life.
2. Choosing a disciplined life
Choosing a disciplined life means directing your life in accomplishing what you set out to do. It is sticking to a task until you get the results you want. It’s impossible to be productive without being disciplined. It is when you have conquered the temptation to quit or you have not allowed yourself to be lulled into inaction by fear of failure, that you have tapped into the second key to productivity, a disciplined life.
Discipline will always outperform intelligence. As the greatest investor of our time, Warren Buffett, once said “We don’t have to be smarter than the rest; we have to be more disciplined than the rest.” With discipline you can put yourself through a learning process, such as going through school, so as to achieve what you wanted to achieve. Also, it is with discipline that the smartest people can learn the patience to produce results, since being the smartest person doesn’t always means achieving anything. In other words, we can agree with Jim Rohn’s statement, “Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishments.” It allows anyone to achieve productivity in their lives.
Discipline is something we are born devoid of. It is something we choose and weave into who we are. I tend to think of it as a muscle that we must develop. Anytime you choose to do what is important and difficult over what is less important and easy, you begin to develop a disciplined life. When we weave discipline in our lives, it aids our productivity in two major ways. First, it helps us set our priorities and keep them, and second, it helps us develop persistence, which is crucial for sustained productivity in life. What’s even more important about choosing a disciplined life is that it allows you to start using the third key to productivity; focus on a task until its completed.
3. Focusing on a task until it’s completed
A task can never be classified as productive not unless it is completed. This could be measured in product output or milestones achieved. Remaining focused on a task until its completed is the third key that you must use to experience productivity.
Focusing on an important task means saying no to all other tasks. It is focusing all your resources on finite objective until you achieve the best possible results. Apple Inc. founder, Steve Jobs is known to have said no to hundreds of potential products that Apple Inc. could have made in order to produce the few superior products that they are known for. He is quoted saying, “People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are.” The way I look at it is, whenever we say yes to one thing, it automatically means we say no to all other things. Therefore, I always remind myself to be very careful with my yeses.
Focusing on a task is important to productivity since it allows us to direct all our efforts to one thing until we get results. Remember this, focusing on a single task with all your effort is like converging sun’s rays on a paper using a magnifying glass until a fire is started.
In summary, when you stay organized, choose a disciplined life and remain focused on a task until it is completed, you will develop a habit of never stopping until your goals are achieved. The habit of sticking to a goal or a task until it’s completed is the master key that the super successful people use for productivity.
Next week, I will share with you the keys to walking by faith. Before then, here is a question for you. What value has your productivity placed on your time in 2019? Answering this question will help you evaluate your 2019 and set you up for productive 2020. Try it.