What we do with our time is very personal, and it would be easy to offend readers. What’s important to me might seem trivial or silly to you. And I may consider your activities to be time-wasters. (We all have at least some of those every day. We can truly consider a few of them to be down time while we unwind but…)
In today’s chaotic world – which will likely only produce more pandemonium for us as the years zip along – it’s hard to carve out any time for ourselves. Time that actually results in us achieving something lasting and/or meaningful is even more precious.
Many people have heard of the 80/20 rule (also called the Pareto principle). The rule has been shown to be true in many areas of life, including business, economics, science, sports, etc. For example, as a generality:
- 80% of any given land might be owned by 20% of the people
- 80% of profits will be produced by 20% of a company’s sales force
- 80% of the complaints to any organization are made by 20% of its customers
- 80% of the work in any congregation is done by 20% of its parishioners
Give or take a few percentage points, that 20% is powerful, both for good and bad. Could it also mean that 80% of our personal accomplishments stem from 20% of the efforts we put forth in our own behalf every day, or maybe they’re the result of just 20% of our time, waking or sleeping? (If we aren’t getting enough rest, most of our waking efforts will be half-hearted, or even wasted, regardless of their initial value.)
If our time spent could always give high value results, we could accomplish so much more and boost our morale, too. Yet we can’t set the bar too high or we’ll get discouraged. Even so, low-value items might be the following that could take up 80% of our time on any given day:
- Tasks others are delegating to you that aren’t important (busy work)
- Tasks you don’t like or can’t do well, in spite of what others think
- Tasks where your team members are flakes
- Tasks you have to keep backtracking on due to interruptions
High value activities can include:
- Anything that moves you toward achieving your purpose here on earth
- A task where if you don’t do it, who will?
- A trip that needs to be taken now while you still have the income/health/opportunity for it
- A project that completes years of effort toward a worthwhile goal
- A 20%-of-time task that’s already proved it will produce 80% of good results each time
What we do with our time is very personal. The time we carve out for ourselves each day can contribute something lasting and meaningful in this world and the next, if we choose carefully. Only I can decide on the best use of my time, and only you can decide on the best use of yours. Before we decide, we only need to keep in mind that each of us will be living with the consequences: good, better, best, or not-so-good.