The Positive Energy Workplace

The Real Cost of Time (and How to Create More of It)

Lately, everywhere I go, I hear the conversation of time come up. Over and over again. "I'm out of time," "ran out of time," "need more time," "have no time," "lost track of time," all offered in the context of a goal not met, a relationship on the rocks, five pounds gained, or a dream not realized.


"Time is money." (True.) "Time is energy." (True.) "We all have the same 24 hours in a day." (Yep.) "Manage your energy, not your time." (Triple true.) "Beyonce has as many hours in a day as you." (Coffee cup quote.)

Time is what we've got (though we don't know how much). It's what we give (and protect dearly -- or not). It's our currency (to spend intentionally and consciously IF we take the time to think that through). We always want more of it, and we often think we have more of it than we do.

The question becomes, how do you invest it? How to you spend your time AND energy?

Because they're one of our most leverageable assets.

They make or break trust and credibility. Allow us to do more with our life. Connect with our kids and partners. Contribute, support and be in service to causes dear to us. 

Our time and energy enable us to Show Up.

They can be our greatest allies when we choose to nourish and be intentional with them. Or our greatest nemesis when we neglect, take for granted, or squander them.

In my years working with leaders, executives, and organizations while having a richly scheduled life myself, I've found time and energy can expand or contract based upon our level of intention and presence. Everyone's in the dance (and struggle) with time and energy -- wanting more, needing more, and dreaming of making it so.

It's a business thing. A culture thing. An innovation thing. A human thing.

It's also a contribution thing.

When we wrestle with time, burn out, or depleted energy, we can't make clear decisions, be at our best, or lead powerfully. Which ultimately adds to our deficit of time and energy in a downward, exhausting spiral. One, that's fortunately remediable with desire, intention, and rigor. 

The first step in breaking any cycle is awareness. First, we must understand our relationship with time and energy, and then face its true impact. Because I love low-hanging fruit when it comes to behavior change, here are 7 hidden (and not so hidden) areas we commonly waste these precious resources. See if any of these hit home:

  • Drama
  • Gossip
  • Negative self-talk
  • Making assumptions and telling ourselves stories
  • Worrying
  • Checking out via TV (or drugs or alcohol)
  • Doing things over and over again because we didn't take the time to do things right the first time.

If you find yourself cringing, lovely! We're here to get a handle on the true cost of our poor relationship with time and energy in life and business. Next, you might want to look at the above list and then see what answers bubble up to the following questions:

  1. Do you own your time? Do you own your energy?
  2. How do you spend your time and energy? Does it contract or expand you?
  3. Does the way you spend your time and energy move you towards your personal, business, and/or relationship visions?
  4. Does the way you spend your time and energy enable you to Show Up well, contribute as you wish, and feel the way you want to feel?
  5. How can you better command, and partner with, time and energy to support you in getting where you want to go?

If your answers are anything other than encouraging, hop to! Own it. Get creative.

I know time is tight. Lots to do! Endless demands! But this is YOUR time.

Time and energy issues are here to stay.

Busy is.

Change is constant.

World events and chaos? Not. Going. Anywhere.

So, we have to get better. Improve at managing, optimizing, and partnering with our time and energy. From there, everything gets better.

We just have to make the time.

Note: In my experience, 70% of the battle is awareness. Yes! You're partially there. The other 30% is what you do with it. I highly recommend watching one of the best TED talks I've ever seen, Linda Sivertsen's TEDWomen Talk on Time Debt, a jaw-dropping concept that few have heard of but affects nearly all of us. News of this "Disease of our Era" inspired me to nourish my own relationship with time even more and led to the writing of this piece (and the following articles, where we delve more fully into the dance with time -- both the credibility cost of it and how to take it back).

Here are the quick links to those articles if you'd like to create the time to dive in more deeply:   

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