Stop Wasting Your Time, Because You Aren’t Going To Live Forever


Everyone knows someone who always appears to be frantically busy. Too busy sweating the small stuff. Too busy to take on new opportunities. Too busy to enjoy themselves.

“Busy” is not an indicator of success. “Busy” means ineffective time-management or poor prioritization.

The attitude of “it will be okay in the end” or “I can do that next week” or “next year I’ll try that” just won’t cut it for serious success. There might not even be a next year! What makes you think you’ll be lucky enough to be granted next year?

There’s always a way of earning or borrowing more money, of hiring more people, of acquiring more information. Time, however, is our only finite resource. Once time is lost it is never found. Don’t undervalue your time.

Derek Sivers thinks of his time as being worth $500 an hour, to ensure he is always doing things that are truly worth the outlay. An otherwise very smart business owner I know drives 30 minutes to the gym for £10-a-month cheaper membership than the gym up his road. That’s an hour of driving, four times a week, to save a tenner a month. What does that make his hourly rate?!

Authors including Tim Ferriss (4 Hour Work Week), Graham Allcott (Productivity Ninja) and Greg McKeown (Essentialism) discuss eliminating the unnecessary in order to focus on the absolute essential. Not only that, but focusing on those things that you and you alone can do. In Doctor Meg Jay’s TED Talk Why 30 is not the new 20, she shares the importance of not seeing your 20s as practice for your 30s. Not wasting time.

Sustainable progression comes from having a sweet balance between urgency and contentment. Relentlessly ambitious whilst also being able to appreciate what you have.

Many successful people in business are big advocates of delegation, automation and elimination. The Tim Ferriss rule for this is: don’t delegate anything you can automate; don’t automate anything you can eliminate. Don’t waste your time, business or otherwise, doing anything that you don’t need to do or don’t want to do. Because enjoyment matters too. As Gary Vaynerchuk put it in his 2008 TED talk, “you can lose just as much money being happy as hell.” Put processes in place to take decision-making or emotions out of standard practices. You can’t scale if you’re taking everything case-by-case.

This week, whilst staying in Marylebone, I left my laptop charger at my friend’s house in Bromley-by-Bow. I had three options: Find an Apple store and buy a new one, make the 90 minute round trip to collect it from her, or order an Uber to pick it up and bring it to me. It was a £23 mistake that I’ll never make again, but the latter option was the clear winner because it didn’t involve me wasting time. Time I knew I could never get back.

How would you run your business if you knew you only had five years to live? What about one year?

Stop idly scrolling Facebook. Stop watching trashy TV. Stop worrying what anyone else thinks. Stop asking pointless questions. Stop having meetings about meetings. Stop doing the 50% of your business tasks that are not fundamental to its success. Use that time to develop yourself or spend more time on the top 10% of actions that will grow your business. Find the balance between contentment and ambition. You are not going to live forever.