How Do You Value Your Time?

Back in What Are Your Rules for Getting It All Done?, I briefly spoke about doing work that was valuable. That has a precondition: you need to know what you value.

We hear a lot of talk about “time management.” I don’t buy the time management part. We can’t “manage” time. We can manage actions. We choose which actions to take.  (I believe I heard the business about managing actions from David Allen a gazillion years ago, before he even wrote Getting Things Done. Yes, before he was famous, my company had arranged for him to bring his workshop in-house. Mark also participated.)

If we manage our actions, that means we every choice we make is a reflection of what we value.

When I am congruent with my values, I choose actions that make sense for me. When I’m not congruent, I make unwise-for-me choices.

If you’re aware of yourself but not the other person (and there’s almost always another person involved), you tend to blame the other person. If you’re only aware of the other person and not what you need, you placate the other. If you’re unaware of the context,  you tend to be irrelevant.

I’ve been working on that big writing project. We discovered the day before we were supposed to turn over the final document for copyediting that some people could veto the entire project. Those people wanted some specific changes. (Don’t get me started on project and program management and knowing who your sponsors are. Just don’t.) I was fine with some of the changes. I was not fine with one of them. In fact, I didn’t see how to find a path between what they wanted and what I wanted. (One of the other guys on the project did see a path, so we might be okay.)

I was not about to ignore my values and placate them. I didn’t have to, because of one of the other people on the project.

The more congruent my choices are with my values, the happier I am. Sometimes, I do work that I’m not excited about. Just this morning, I spent a bunch of time on my web site, doing infrastructure work. I don’t want technical debt, so I did it. I would have rather been writing something else, or even this post. But I value a working site more so I did the work.

If you don’t value your time, if you placate other people, you might not feel too happy about where you spend your time. When I choose to spend time reading fiction instead of non-fiction, I’m choosing to relax. When I choose to spend time working out, I’m choosing health. When I choose to write, I choose to put my words out and see what happens.

I rarely do things I don’t want to do. Sometimes, I do, because I value the relationship I have with other people over the temporary discomfort of the situation.

We are responsible for our careers, our relationships, and yes, our happiness. When we choose what’s valuable, we make the most of our careers, relationships, and yes, we make our own happiness. That requires self-esteem.

I don’t know how you decide on value for yourself. I look at congruence and ask myself if I’m blaming, placating or being irrelevant. That’s a good test for me.

That is the question this week: How do you value your time?

3 thoughts on “How Do You Value Your Time?”

  1. Thank you johanna! This is really helpful to evaluate values and to perhaps adjust them.
    Another thing that came to my mind: Many years ago I attended a class in time management. The lecturer told us that most people in her classes where looking for a tool to fit all the work in their 24 hours of a day. What they needed was magic (or today I would suggest perhaps kanban). With time management people often think only of time and schedules instead of value.

    1. Sascha, glad you found that helpful. Yes, if you’re trying to fit “all” the work into 24 hours, you do need magic! Kanban with WIP limits would show you what’s going on.

  2. Pingback: Five Blogs – 8 May 2017 – 5blogs

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