Photo: Kevin Ku
How can I make the most of my time?
We all wish we had more time. As the CEO/CTO of a growing blockchain company — RedPen — I feel this constantly.
Not everyone treats their time the same way. Some people are conscious of time, while others are not. Some people recognize time as a finite resource — as something we’ll eventually run out of, no matter who we are or what we do — and they value it accordingly. Deciding how to use your time means constantly weighing the perpetual opportunity costs and always wanting to trade time for something of value.
The truth is, time wasted is time you can never get back. For me, this is extremely motivating. It drives me to make the most out of every minute I have on earth — to be the best person and creative professional I can be — because one day, I know I’m going to run out of those minutes, and I won’t be able to get them back.
But making the most of your time can be challenging.
Here are four strategies that will help.
1: Schedule your days strategically
In general, I try and purposefully utilize every hour that I’m awake.
This requires being protective of my time. It’s one reason I don’t let an assistant manage my calendar. By deciding how I want to utilize my hours each day, I make myself more effective and more motivated. I prioritize what I best understand and identify as a priority. It amounts to being accountable to myself on how I determine where to spend my time.
Of course, this isn’t always easy. There are varying outside forces competing for my time all day. This is true for most people. But what motivates me is the awareness nagging at the back of my head that if I don’t spend my time as purposefully as possible — if I don’t treat my time like it truly matters — I’ll be letting myself down.
Scheduling my days strategically helps prevent that from happening.
2: Reach for the stars, and even if you fail, you’re still in the sky
A key component of making the most of your time is motivation: you have to be self-aware and driven to do it.
For this reason, the things you spend your days doing have to be intrinsically motivating — pursuits in service of a larger mission or dream.
Such pursuits aren’t easy, though. They often entail taking risks, and they demand a certain discipline. You need to be able to tune out distractions. Having that discipline is, in essence, remembering what you want.
When you reach for the stars and attempt something so wildly challenging, even if you come up short, you are still in the sky. What this means is, you landed in a place where you have learned a lot, attempted more than you would have had you not challenged yourself, and you feel a sense of defying your norm. In taking this leap and making the most of your day — every day — you have to expand out of your own comfort zone to overcome fear, anxiety, and doubt. Recognizing you want to grow usually positions you in a place of vulnerability.
And that, of course, is hard. In fact, one reason many people end up not making the most of their time is they’re unable to overcome the fear of risk or failure.
But what’s also true is this: every person has it in them to overcome fear and doubt, which means every person has it in them to maximize their efficiency. It’s a matter of persistence, bravery, and faith.
3: Never stop
Yes, overcoming fear of failure and risk is critical. But what happens if you do fail?
This is another thing that separates those who truly make the most of their time from those who don’t: when they fail, they keep going. They never stop. They make the most of every moment they have.
Now is really the only time you have. The past is in your memory, and the future is in your imagination. It’s pivotal to reflect and mandatory to dream, but living today with all you have and never stopping allows you to capitalize on now.
Look, there are a million reasons why you might not be able to accomplish whatever it is that you have set out to accomplish. But if you persevere through those setbacks — if you pick yourself up when you fall — you’ll prove yourself unaffected by them.
The key, whatever you’re aiming to do day over day, is to not quit. Don’t succumb to the tide of rejection or perceived failure, and don’t let yourself become distracted. Show discipline, and be proud.
For the record, this shouldn’t be entirely difficult — at least if you’re passionate about what you’re doing. If you truly care about what you’re creating, or the family you’re raising, or the mission of the company you’re working for, you’ll feel an aversion to apathy and distraction from within. And that aversion will help drive you.
When you ask yourself, why don’t I stop? That’s what will answer: your passion.
4: Take the time to celebrate your wins and reflect on your journey
Of course, for as much as I say making the most of your time is easy (so long as you’re passionate about what you’re doing), it can still be tiring. That’s why I’ve found it critical to celebrate my wins when they come and appreciate the journey if they do not.
People who work hard and accomplish a lot don’t do this enough. Personally, I’m very critical of myself. From my work in the White House to building RedPen, I do not consistently recognize my own accomplishments but have benefited from reflecting and using that for inspiration to improve.
This also has the effect of preserving my time. Each moment you celebrate becomes immortalized in your mind. They become memories that you can go back and revisit whenever you’re feeling down.
At the end of the day, making the most of your time is a matter of motivation, diligence, bravery, and passion. It’s about finding what you love in life and using your time to do that thing as well as you can. Because that’s the best way to spend your time — purposefully, in service of something inspiring. And now is your time.
RJ is the CEO, CTO, and Co-Founder of RedPen, a breakthrough social news and storytelling platform powered by blockchain and AI. To learn more, visit meetredpen.com or follow on Twitter at @meetredpen.
This post first appeared on Quora.