Time is a precious, limited resource, so we’re always looking for ways to make the most of it. Just as you should spend your money where you spend the most time, you can manage your time more efficiently by looking at the real impact of your activities.
Jason called his money prioritising strategy the comfort principle, so I’m calling this the multiple benefits principle. Prioritise your time based on both quality (something we’ve covered often before) and quantity.
Quality time: As the 80/20 rule reminds us, our time is best spent on the few things that have the most impact on our lives.
At work, this might mean focusing on the tasks that you are best at and only you can handle, delegating the rest (you can prioritise your email according to your wheelhouse as well).
At home, embrace messy organisation (e.g., forget about organising the silverware drawer) in favour of more life-enhancing activities: cooking healthy meals, exercising, spending time with your family, etc.
Another example: reading or watching the news may be a waste of your time, unless your work requires it. But even then, you can make better use of your time by reading only the news relevant to you, e.g., by filtering your RSS feeds.
You can and should prioritise what you eat, read, watch, work on, etc. according to how positive an impact it has on your life. One way to prioritise is to treat your time like you’re on a diet: Make a list of the five main goals you want to focus on for the year, and spend 95 per cent of your time on tasks that contribute to them.
Quantity: To take this a step further, delegate your time according to how many ways you benefit from the activity or how many different areas of your life it affects. For example, scrubbing the floors gives you a cleaner floor and a healthier household perhaps, but it’s not very enjoyable and there aren’t that many other benefits you can reap from it. Let’s say this task only has one reward.
Reading, on the other hand, has the potential to benefit you in several ways. One, it’s enjoyable and relaxing. If you read a book that also stimulates your mind and teaches you something — as opposed to a book that just whiles away the time — that’s another benefit. Even better, if what you learn from the book helps you make money in some way (e.g., enhances your profession) or save time and make you more productive, then it’s a long-lasting benefit. That’s three possible different ways one activity can reward you.
Another example might be taking cooking classes with a friend or your partner: You spend quality time with people you love, learn new skills and probably end up saving money and eating healthier by cooking more at home.
Blogging is one last example I’ll offer: If you enjoy writing, you’re doing something you love. Writing about a topic regularly also increases your knowledge and expertise. Your blog could help you earn some spare change through advertising or affiliate links. And, finally, you can use your blog to build a valuable network, make new friends and also possibly protect yourself against unemployment.
Spending more time where it matters most may seem painfully obvious, but it’s easy to forget and fritter away your time on things like running errands or watching silly YouTube videos instead of on the activities that enhance multiple areas of your life.