Wide awake, at 3am this morning, pondering where my time was going. It wasn’t moments of deep reflection into the years of my life and where it had gone, rather just the time in my day to day activities. How was it possible that I could be sleeping less, running around more and yet still feel like I wasn’t productive, or that the few items on my to-do list were getting longer and longer with nothing being ticked off.

Somehow, being in the dark, complete silence and distraction less, I started breaking down for myself where my time was going. Questions such as how often I had spent hours in idol chit chat, only to wonder whether anything I had just talked about was of any kind of value to me, let alone to the other person? Did it make me feel good? Am I more productive, uplifted, and knowledgeable because of that interaction I had just put my time into? 

How many times had I spent hours watching television, going from one show to the next on Netflix, only to feel lazy, unfulfilled, stressed, tired and panicked afterwards? What else could I have done with this time instead? How many times I have spent hours surfing the internet, browsing Facebook, Instagram, twitter, snap chatting, playing games, engaging in frivolous watsapp banter or any other number of social media crazes that many of us seem to have become so addicted to?

How many times do any of us go through days where you actually don’t know where your day, week or months have even gone? Again, you look back at either the virtual or physical list you made and then you are hit with that dreaded moment of being back in the present and the realisation that you have so much to do, followed by the all too familiar self-talk of ‘where did my time go? What did I do? Why did I do that? Why did I go there?’ and let’s not forget the all too familiar ‘should haves, would haves and could haves,’ that have this wonderful way of haunting us at the most inopportune times.

Upon reflection, I noticed that in all of the above thoughts, almost everything was me my ‘spending’ time, but what if I tried ‘investing’ my time?

In this context, if spending could be described as using up and expending our energy, exhausting ourselves, or even becoming so consumed by something, then perhaps investing could be described as charging ourselves up, infusing our minds, steeping our thoughts, permeating or even pervading. When we think of spending and investing, it is usually money that comes to mind first and foremost. How about a shift in perspective here? How different would your life look, feel and be if you could start investing your time instead of spending it?

All great food for thought, but how do we make the shift? Here, I share with 5 steps that with you on some immediate shifts that can be made to stop spending your time and start investing it.

1. Mindful of your words, thoughts and actions

To be mindful is to be aware, conscious, alert and present. It also involves paying attention to our own thoughts and feelings. Start paying attention to your own self-talk. What are your words saying about you? Likewise with your thoughts, are they positive or negative? Are your thoughts giving you momentum, excitement and enthusiasm pushing you take action, or do your thoughts leave you feeling stuck?

Do you words, thoughts and actions empowering or disempowering you? This might take you time to identify, analyse and start making changes; however this is you INVESTING your time into something that will ultimately benefit you.

2. Break your spending habits

Invest some time into taking a good, hard, honest look at where you time is currently being spent. Make a fun list for yourself of all the things you perhaps do in a day or in the space of a few hours that maybe you don’t need to do. For example, how many times in a day do I go to facebook, twitter, Instagram, snapchat, online games, watsapp, instant messengers? If this was costing you money, would you access it all so frequently?

If we thought of our time as money, would we give it up so freely and thoughtlessly?

Start treating and using your time wisely.

3. Plan your investments

Reflect upon the things you have done in your life, past or present that make you feel good, fulfilled, energized, motivated, worthy, enthusiastic, happy and refreshed.

Make a list of things you used to do that would give you these feelings. In addition, make a list of the things you currently do that makes you feel this way. Once completed, invest your time into doing the following:-

a) Identify what you want and where the gaps are

b) Create a realistic and viable plan

c) Execute by making the shift

Mahatma Gandhi said, ‘Without action, you aren’t going anywhere.’ Don’t keep your plans as plans, commit to taking action and staying accountable.

4. Start investing

Forming a new habit is said to take 21 days, so don’t be too hard on yourselves if you find breaking the habit of spending to be a tough one. Just as it took time to develop these spending patterns, it will most certainly take time to learn new habits and also to have the desire to invest your time in yourself instead.

Be conscious in where you are investing your time and be patient in assessing your return on investment.

5. Review

Introspection and reflection is a critical part of one’s personal development. Invest time into reviewing where you have been spending and where you have been investing and allow yourself to make adjustments as needed.

As you go through your personal journey of reflection and what you desire for your life, it is important to remember that it is you, and you alone who is ultimately in control of your life, your emotions and how you live. Therefore, whether you decide to spend your time, or invest it, remember time is something we cannot get back, so choose wisely.