One of the skills that financial advisers bring to the table is an investment allocation plan. A plan that works specifically for your situation, and allocates different percentages of your investments into different risk categories. The idea being to get the right balance of growth and risk in your portfolio depending upon a bunch of factors.
Most successful and wealthy people in our society pay attention to this.
“The main reason people struggle financially is because they have spent years in school but learned nothing about money. The result is that people learn to work for money… but never learn to have money work for them.” Robert Kiyosaki
What if we took the same approach to our time?
We all have twenty-four hours, but very few of us maximise our “return” on those hours. When I talk about “return”, it is a very personal thing … it might mean more investment in your career, it might mean more investment in your hobby, it could even mean a conscious increase in “down time”.
“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Albert Einstein
We all know that in order for our situation to change, then we need to change something. In the same way we look at our risk/reward profile in our financial portfolio we need to look at our risk/reward profile in our time management. If I want to achieve something (professional OR personal) then what am I prepared to invest in order to get there!
Let’s look at our twenty-four hours.
“It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” J.K. Rowling
We could assume three large buckets of time … sleep, leisure time and work time. (You could call them anything you like … because for many people leisure time is anything but leisurely!) Depending upon our situation in life we might decide to increase or decrease our “investment” in the various buckets.
THE SLEEP BUCKET
Let’s deal with sleep first, because it is the easiest. Common thinking would suggest that we need eight hours sleep a night, but in reality we are not all the same. How many hours sleep do you need to be healthy and refreshed? Would 30 minutes less make a difference? Could you do with a little less during the work week and a little more at the weekend?
“Even where sleep is concerned, too much is a bad thing.” Homer
If you can recover 30 minutes a day, five days a week then you can use that time elsewhere … that would be one hundred and thirty hours a year. Time that you could use on learning, fitness, career development, hobbies … or anything that is important to you.
“Sleep is the golden chain that ties health and our bodies together.” Thomas Dekker
THE WORK BUCKET
Let’s look at your work day. You might spend eight hours at work (and you can actually do a lot in eight hours IF you focus on your productivity during those eight hours!) You will also have commute time, so let’s call that another two hours a day. So you have ten hours a day dedicated to the work bucket.
“Think ahead. Don’t let day-to-day operations drive out planning.” Donald Rumsfeld
Is that getting you where you want in your career? Could you add a little more time dedicated to career advancement, if that fits your current situation? (Perhaps an evening course, or some reading each evening). Could you do it on your commute? Maybe you could do something on a weekend, get up a little earlier than usual and put in few hours of study? One of the things I did, to reduce my work hours and increase my time with family, was to move closer to work, and reduce commute time.
“Love and work are the cornerstones of our humanness.” Sigmund Freud
THE LEISURE BUCKET
Leisure time is probably not the right title for the third major bucket. Anyone who has kids knows that there is not much leisure there, certainly when they are younger! However, there is time to do things other than sleep and work. The question is do you consciously think about that time, or does it just happen? Do you consciously choose to “chill” (watch TV, play video games, nap or whatever else you do with your down time) or is that a default?
“Plans are nothing; planning is everything.” Dwight D. Eisenhower
If you are young and starting out in your career you could make some different decisions. You could choose to do the minimum amount of work possible, or you could choose to invest in your career. You could choose to spend as many hours possible on video games or you could allot some of those hours to improving your knowledge.
“Investing in yourself is the best investment you will ever make. It will not only improve your life, it will improve the lives of all those around you.” Robin Sharma
If your kids are older you could choose to revisit how you spend your “leisure time”. Do you maximise your well earned “chill time” or do you invest some of that time back into yourself.
If you are in an executive role you will be struggling with a balance between work and family. You need to find what works for you, there are no cookie cutter answers and no perfect world. Compromise is probably the best you can manage during this phase of your life, but don’t forget to be kind to yourself!
Financial planning should be a very personal “thing” … there is no right and wrong answer, it just needs to be the right thing for you.
Time planning is the same thing … we need to be conscious in our decisions about how to use time, rather than just letting it happen!
“Man must cease attributing his problems to his environment, and learn again to exercise his will – his personal responsibility.” Albert Einstein
Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
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