I’m impatient. Age has done little to curb my drive. As soon as I imagine something, my internal clock starts ticking. I spend a lot of time imagining where I and my companies could be in the future. Decisions about strategy and focus are carefully considered and, once they achieve a sort of mental critical mass, I want them to happen now. I know, this is not realistic. But the time spent between planting and harvest is sometimes excruciating.
So I’ve learned to ask a couple of questions: How long will this take? And, how long will it last?
I often measure opportunities, tasks, conversations through the metric of these two questions. How long will it take? How can I shave a few minutes off of repetitive tasks? How can I smoothly move through the day without retracing my steps, my thoughts, my decisions? Smooth, organized efficiency is a thing of beauty.
But, how long something takes only tells part of the story. How long something lasts is the weightier question. An hour, or week or month, spent on someting that fades quickly is pleasing to my dopamine-induced check list. But I’m in it for impact. So, how long an investment of time lasts is my favored metric. An hour, or week or month spent on something of value that may last years is time well spent.
As I ponder time spent at the end of my day, I’ve learned to be pleased and grateful for investments in people, projects, tasks that will likely outlast me and my work. Amid an endless stream of delightful distractions I am most thankful for the moments spent each day on those people, projects, ideas that will last. Some days (or weeks) are more fruitful in this way than others. Some days end with a long list of utterly delightful “done” check marks but with little significant achievements. Other days, I’m able to focus my attention and prioritize my time and (limited) talent on those few things that matter and that will last beyond the week. Those are good days.
How did you spend your day yesterday? Even when your time is largely dictated by others, it is still possible to invest part of it in things that will last. So, tomorrow, as you gleefully check things off of your to-do list, ask yourself how long this will last.