Six Ways to Invest Your Work Time Wisely

“When you invest your time, you make a goal and a decision of something that you want to accomplish. Whether it’s make good grades in school, be a good athlete, be a good person, go down and do some community service and help somebody who’s in need, whatever it is you choose to do, you’re investing your time in that.” – Nick Saban, American football coach.

Even if you go flat broke, you can always make more money—as hard as it may seem for most people sometimes. If you lose everything you own, you’ll eventually rebuild. If you move to a new city, you can make more friends. Give blood, and your body replaces the plasma within a day, the platelets and red blood cells within two weeks. But one thing you can never, ever get back is lost time. And yet the average worker treats time as their most fungible resource—that is, like it’s infinitely replaceable.

Where’s the store I can go to buy a couple of crates of minutes? I could sure use a Costco Time Club card!

Though it can’t be replaced, time does resemble money in one way. You can invest both; and if you do it well, the dividends can prove significant. You won’t really get more time from investing your time (wouldn’t that be great?), but you can save future time as you increase your efficiency, effectiveness, performance, and productivity.

Let’s look at six ways to wisely invest your time. All these tasks take time to set up, but the ROI is very high.

  1. Foundation-building. Whatever you have planned, build it on a foundation of stone. Instead of rushing your plans into action, pause long enough to make sure you have the right strategy in place, your leadership team is rock solid, your due diligence and planning are sound, and you have the resources needed to do it right.

  2. Organization. Putting your house in order is never a waste of time. You need systems to track projects, open loops, action items, and communication. Organization also applies to your exterior situation: your schedule, the organization of your office and files, even how you arrange your files on your computer. Always know what comes next, and never take more than a minute to find anything.

  3. Physical improvement. If you feel sharp and optimistic, you’ll get more things done more quickly than when you feel sickly and sluggish. To some extent, you can control how you physically feel and increase your energy, by taking care of your health, eating right, staying hydrated, sleeping enough, and ensuring your mental health. This may be your most difficult long-term time investment to maintain, but may well provide a longer life for you to maintain.

  4. Refinements. Spend the time necessary to improve on what matters; i.e., to increase your ROI. Taking refresher courses in your computer apps, learning to use the Tasks feature of MS Outlook appropriately, going to conferences, attending college classes, learning more about your trad­­e, and training will nearly always help you improve your performance over time.

  5. Prioritizing. Getting your priorities straight may be one of the toughest things any of us do, but it’s also one of the most rewarding in terms of time investment. Look, no one really wants to “eat that frog” first thing in the morning, even morning people. But knowing your top priority and tackling it first gets it out of the way so you can attack the rest of your to-do list. And don’t make that daily list too long. If you have more than twenty items on it, then you might be unrealistic (add up the time it would take you to do them all and see if you have that much time available in your calendar).

  6. Let go. In her book Thrive, businesswoman Arianna Huffington wrote, “You can complete a project by dropping it.” Delegate as much as you can, and if a project is low-priority and getting you nowhere, let it go. Even an expensive, long-term time-drain can and should be abandoned if it goes beyond any possibility of profit. Don’t throw good money after bad; don’t let sunk costs sink you.

Time in a Bottle? If only!

Money is a commodity; time is not. But with some thought, you can wisely invest both. In fact, it’s probably easier to invest time well, since you need not worry about the ups and downs of the stock market. All of us must learn to manage time, but learning to manage it by investing it wisely is something many never learn. Master it now, and it will become a habit that lasts—and may extend—a lifetime.

About Laura Stack, your next keynote speaker:

Laura Stack, MBA, CSP, CPAE is an award-winning keynote speaker, bestselling author, and noted authority on productivity and performance. Funny, engaging, and full of real life strategies that work, Laura will change mindsets and attitudes so your people can maximize productivity, strengthen performance, and get the job done right. Her presentations at corporate events, sales kick-off meetings, and association conferences help audiences improve output, increase speed in execution, and save time in the office. Stack has authored seven books, including her newest work, Doing the Right Things Right: How the Effective Executive Spends Time (Jan. 2016). To have Laura Stack speak at your next event, call 303-471-7401, email, or CONTACT US.

Here’s what others are saying:

“Laura Stack’s session with a group of our seasoned operations managers was eye-opening. We all learned new ways to be more productive with the tools we already have. I’ve never seen each of our seasoned, experienced operations managers so engaged in a session. Many of our senior and mid-level leaders were wowed by what they learned and have already begun using the new techniques with their teams.”
—Mary Pawlowski, Learning Design, Piedmont Natural Gas

“What I enjoyed most about your presentation was that it was not only engaging but also practical in application. I’ve read everything from Covey’s system to “Getting Things Done,” and you presented time management in a way that is the easiest I’ve seen to digest and apply. Thank you for helping our system today!”
—John-Reed McDonald, SVP, Field Operations, Pridestaff

“Laura is an incredible speaker who takes practical information to improve productivity and efficiency and makes it interesting and fun! She has a great sense of humor and completely engaged our corporate and sales team. Laura motivated everyone to take steps to make their lives more productive and efficient.
—Molly Johnson, Vice President Domestic Sales, Episciences, Inc.

“Ms. Laura Stack’s program received the highest scores in the 13-year history of the Institute for Management Studies (IMS) in Cleveland! From the 83 participants, the workshop received a perfect 7.0 for “Effectiveness of the Speaker” and 6.8 for “Value of the Content.” Managers especially valued learning about task management, how to minimize interruptions, organizing with Outlook, prioritizing, effectively saying ‘no,’ how to set boundaries, and recognizing self-imposed challenges to time management.”
—Don Gorning, Chair, Institute for Management Studies Cleveland