Unless you're Allen Iverson (the 90s version), you can't just flip a switch. You're not going to be dominant in the game if you're not deliberate in practice. You're not going to be able to sit on your hands for weeks and months and still manage to accomplish your goals.
Time is not going to be your friend, but it doesn't have to be your constant enemy.
I remember listening to this pastor named Wayne Barber quoting a strange verse from the Bible about purchasing time. He asked an interesting question: “How do you purchase time?” Thankfully, he answered it himself: “You buy time with the choices you make.” He was unpacking the ancient Greek word exagorazo, which may be best captured by our current word redeem.
The word redeem was used in common business in the ancient Greco-Roman world. To redeem was to capitalize on the market by wise investment. You “redeemed” your money when your returns dwarfed your original investment. You can redeem time, as you can money, by making the most of the time you have with good choices.
Determined men realize that they have twenty-four hours in a day, and if they waste time it is because they intended to do so.
Many of us are stuck in ruts. When we do have open space in our day, we default to watching television and surfing YouTube, or dinking around in the garage. Such activities may feel relaxing in the moment, but they are often a drain on our energy and ability to uphold our many responsibilities. Rest should propel us in our various roles as a husbands, fathers, workers, and friends.
For most of us, redeeming time will mean that we work hard to eliminate unnecessary time suckers in our week, design systems for answering e-mails efficiently, think through our weekly schedules and priorities beforehand, and live by predetermined goals.
Here are a few ways I have turned practice into a lifestyle and not simply a chore:
Tweak Your Technique
A lot of guys work hard, but in my experience, few work smart. One of the ways I try to work smart is by “clumping.” To clump means to put several similar things together on a given day at a specific time. For me this means focusing on administrative stuff on Mondays, packing all meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday, writing on Thursday, and so on. You may not have this kind of flexibility, but you could take time to answer all your emails or return all your phone calls at a certain time. This guards you from multitasking, which always hurts productivity. Clumping helps you focus and frees up brain space to create.
Recall Your Goals
It is easy in the warp and woof of everyday tasks to forget what you are really trying to do. Every man should develop some goals for his year, month, week, and day. Then, by simply reviewing these goals often, he can stay on course.
There is nothing like having a few good men and women in and around your life that are helping us maximize our time. For me, my wife, my assistant, and my executive know my weekly and daily goals. They all have permission to “bust me” if I am getting off track by wasting time or by working on the wrong priorities.
All of us will use our time. The question is, will we use it wisely?