Own Your Time: 4 Shifts to Make Today

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By Joseph Brewster

One of the most effective things I have found for improving my workday is a simple attitude shift in one key area: My time.

Whether you run a business or work inside of someone else’s structure, others are directly impacted by how you use your time. It could be clients, investors, a board of directors, an audience – someone is depending on you. Stress and anxiety creep in when you start contemplating failure, or underperforming in your responsibilities. The to-do list becomes a “have to-do” list rather than a “get to-do” list, and it’s easy to feel trapped by your schedule. Nothing is more frustrating that feeling as if your time is being held captive.

Don’t do it. Start making a shift in your thinking right now about your time.

Shift 1: “I am not in debt”
Your time is not payment of a debt. You may be thinking “that’s not true. The client has paid. The investors have forked over cash. I owe them results.” And if that’s how you think, then you are laboring every day to pay off a debt. A 2013 study by Northwestern Medicine showed debt was closely associated with high blood pressure and overall poor mental and general health. It is physically dangerous for you to view your work as the payment of a debt. Yes, the investors have given money. Yes, the client has paid, but you are not in debt. Actually…

Shift 2: “I am in demand”
Your time is the validation of your personal importance. You are relieving a pain for someone, whether that be financial pain or the fact you provide a needed service. You are needed. You are wanted. Your skills are valuable. Without you, this would not be possible. If that is not true for what you do, and you are quite certain you are neither wanted nor needed, you have the wrong job. I don’t care what you do, you need to quit.

Shift 3: “My time belongs to me”
Whether you are supporting a family or just pursuing a passion, you have the right to decide what to do with your time. You can walk away. There may be repercussions for those choices which have prevented you from doing so, but it doesn’t mean you can’t. It means you choose not to. If you are not brave enough to change your life, it is no fault of your boss or your investors – look in the mirror, take control and make those proper choices. Recognize you hold the power to change. That is a powerful change in itself. What will you choose?

Shift 4: “I choose to give”
You could be doing anything you want with your time, but you are giving it to help someone else. That is generous. That is heroic. Mentally shift from being selfish to being generous. Generosity has all kinds of positive side effects. Studies prove that generosity helps keep stress in check, improves your mental health, benefits your relationships and even helps extend your life. Your clients are not taking from you; you are giving to them, because you are a kind and generous person who enjoys helping others find solutions to their problems.

Shift from being an indebted servant to a compassionate giver in your work life. Start thinking of your time differently. It will make what you do more meaningful without changing your to-do list. Trust me.

P.S. Try this technique on your relationships.


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