How do you Invest your time?

New year, same pressures

Well it’s the new year, and the new year often comes with a desire to renew, change or improve something in our work and life.

One of the things I find so interesting (and mostly annoying) is that just because you decide you want do something new or better, the rest of the world does not back off and start behaving in a less challenging, tempting or unreasonable way.

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog called Busy is a Choice.

It got a lot of response. Here’s a snippet relative to being too busy:

If you want more time, you need to look only to yourself as the source of that time.

Your company and other people can absorb an unlimited amount of time from you — and not worry about you in the process.

It’s important to remember:

We are each the source
of our own time.
Our time is completely defined
by what we say YES to,
and what we say NO to.

Investing time

In the English language we have a lot of ways to describe what we do with time, we can spend it, pass it, waste it, kill it, mark it, take it, give it, save it, lose it…

But the one idea I like to think about with regard to time, is to choose on purpose, how you want to INVEST it.

We all get only one source of time for our work and our life.

If you don’t choose how you want to invest your time — what will you say YES to — a crushing wave of activity will fill up all your time.

Desired Outcomes

When we think about investing, we tend to think about outcomes that we want. How will we measure the payoff of that investment?

Why not think in the same way when you think about how you want to invest your time — what’s the payoff that you want?

What do you want to be true in your life? What do you want to get done? What is important for your family? What kind of leisure do you want to have?

When you start thinking about your desired outcomes, you can start making choices for how you want to invest your time, and then make the effort to protect that time.

In my Executive Mentoring Group, this month’s challenge is on Ruthless Priorities.

What things in your life are so important that you want to get Ruthless about protecting the time to achieve them?

A plan moving forward

I thought I would share with you my planning template. I don’t consider this to have a January 1 start date, but I do look at it about once or twice a year.

I think it’s important to regularly remind yourself of where you want to be going and, what you want all this work and life activity to amount to.

Is all this activity getting you to the place you want to go? Or is it just keeping you busy and turning into a reason why you are not getting there?

Here is the outline that I use to define what I want to invest time in and some generic examples of what I mean in each category.



General themes: Think about the question: In my life I want… and then think about things like calm, excitement, happiness, creativity, fitness, financial security, adventure, learning, strong family, no negative relationships etc.


Personal Goals: Specific, measurable things that you want to accomplish in your personal life. Things likes renovating a room, a fitness goal, family vacation, learn a language, play a musical instrument etc.

Work Goals: Specific short and long term projects to finish, achieving specific levels or numbers on things, becoming a part of a group or event, etc.

Milestones: Something transformational in work/career/life. Stronger network, a new type of experience, launch a blog, etc.


Personal Improvements: Go out more, stay in more, read more, less screen time, network more, more time in nature, cook more, etc.

Daily Processes: Exercise, study, spiritual practices, task list management, email approach, de-clutter spaces, etc.

What do you want?

Just because it’s January doesn’t mean that you have to change the world right now. But it’s not a bad time to think about what you want to invest your time in and why.

Also think about the benefits in your life of achieving those desired outcomes. WHY are the things you put on the list important?

Taking the additional step of asking WHY will help you in two ways:

1. It will help you pare down the list, and

2. It will increase your motivation to fight back against all the forces, and the critic in your own mind (these obstacles and insecurities are always there for EVERYONE) trying to slow you down, or keep you from starting.

The best way to break through this is to choose on purpose how you want to invest time, and then carve that time out on your calendar and protect it. Then when the time slot comes to do something that puts your goal into action…

Just start doing the thing without thinking about it too much!

The forward action will drive away the pressures, doubts, and reasons to stop.

A couple of resources:

Listen to my free webinar on Ruthless Priorities and consider joining the Monthly Challenge to put your Ruthless Priorities into action.

Read my friend Danny Gregory’s book: Shut Your Monkey: How to Control Your Inner Critic and Get More Done (I don’t get anything if you click or buy, I just love this book!)

What do you think?

Join the conversation about this on my Facebook page.

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Patty Azzarello is an executive, best-selling author, speaker and CEO/Business Advisor.
She became the youngest general manager at HP at the age of 33, ran a billion dollar software business at 35 and became a CEO for the first time at 38 (all without turning into a self-centered, miserable jerk)

You can find Patty at, follow her on twitter or Facebook, or read her book RISE…3 Practical Steps for Advancing Your Career, Standing Out as a Leader, AND Liking Your Life.


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