24 August 2014
I think it was John Lennon who said, “Time you enjoy wasting is not time wasted.” Whilst I’m not a believer in intentionally frittering the day away without achieving something, there’s something in this particular statement that reminds you of the fact that there’s always value in doing the things you enjoy. If you set aside some time to take a leisurely walk with a loved one, with no aim other than enjoying each other’s company, is this wasted time? I think you could argue the opposite.
Sometimes even the greatest of leaders, from elite athletes to successful businesspeople, lose perspective on what constitutes time well spent and what constitutes time wasted. In the past, I’ve probably been guilty of spending too much time working – pushing and driving projects forwards. But you can focus so intently on getting something done by a certain point in time that you blur out the rest of the picture, like staring at just one part of a painting.
Have you ever put a time limit on doing something you enjoy? In my experience it creates a huge amount of pressure, and someone once told me that things will always take longer and always cost more than you expect anyway. So whilst we set huge goals for ourselves and put our sights on great things for the team, I try to avoid setting specific deadlines, as I think that’s a little bit false. I’m forever working against my wife Gail, who is so organised. It’s the chemist and pragmatist in her against the creative in me, but we end up meeting somewhere in the middle and that’s why we work so well as a team.
Whilst I’m certainly someone who values time, I really don’t like strict deadlines. People who know me might be thinking “that’s rubbish, you always get things done for a certain time” – but if you have a goal, you can make it fun and turn it into an enjoyable exercise like a Challenge Anneka style project. When we hit targets in good time, it’s because everyone at UKFast relishes a challenge but, as nobody gets in trouble for not sticking rigidly to a timeline, it seems to happen almost organically.
That being said, I have given myself, for many reasons, until the end of this year to finalise the office environment; mainly because the team deserves some peace and quiet and a finished, enjoyable place to work in. I feel like setting a time for this goal in particular makes sense as it’s also a very achievable thing, not one that’s going to pile on a huge amount of pressure.
Ultimately, though, I believe that people will complete a marathon in their own time. If you set a goal and take the time to write it down and even tell people about it, you will achieve it. Whether you enjoy that process or not depends on how much pressure you put yourself under and setting a deadline is a sure fire way to heap it on in spades! Life is to be enjoyed. When you chase deadlines, think of how many other things you’re rushing past without noticing.
What does time well spent mean to you? If you knew that today were your last, would you change the way you planned to spend your time?