Paying Yourself First: 4 Ways to Wisely Invest Your Time

By Jason Brick

3 min read

You already know how to calculate return on Investment (ROI) for the money you spend in your business. It’s a key technique for making certain you use your financial resources in the right place. You can measure ROI for things like online marketing and conference calls, but have you ever considered calculating ROI for your time? Here’s what current science has to say about how changing your schedule priorities can pay off in productivity dividends.

1. Get Enough Sleep

The harried, sleep-deprived CEO is such a fixture in our society, it’s easy to forget there are other ways to approach the huge time and energy demands that come with being in charge. You just don’t have time to sleep if you want to get everything done, right?

HealthAdvocate [PDF] paper drawing from work by Harvard Medical School and the National Sleep Foundation, among others, reported that workers lost an average of four hours of productivity each week and were 9 percent more likely to make serious errors at work if they slept less than seven hours a night. More recent research put the price tag on insomnia-induced lost productivity at $63.2 billion annually for the American workforce alone. It’s not that you can’t afford a good night’s sleep. You can’t afford not to get one.

2. Exercise (Pretty Much) Daily

When your day gets out of control, your gym time is often the first casualty. It makes sense from one perspective. That half-hour at the gym is time you could be returning phone calls or polishing your next pitch.

From another perspective, it works just like that extra hour of sleep. Virgin founder Richard Branson repeatedly advises exercise as the number one key to productivity and famously suggested that an hour of exercise gives him four hours’ worth of extra productivity. Even if his analysis skews high, the results experienced by companies that added a fitness and wellness program to their employee benefits package or workplace support his claim, if not quite so drastically.

3. Plan Your Time

Running from one task to the next as things pop up is par for a small-business owner’s course and may make you feel like you’re getting a lot done. But there’s a better way. Career advice articles from Marquette University[PDF] and New Jersey Institute of Technology echo findings by Franklin Covey that 15 minutes spent organizing your time each morning pays off with an hour or more of extra productivity across the day. Spending that time helps you focus your priorities, identify the best order for tasks, and group items that need similar tools or locations.

4. Organize the Office

“I’d clean up better if I had more time,” and its slightly more optimistic cousin, “I’ll clean up when I have the time,” are common laments from behind piles of paper on cluttered desks worldwide. But a survey conducted for Brother USA [PDF] found the opposite to be true.

The survey, which examined many aspects of office productivity, employee attitudes, and work-life balance, found that just nearly 38 hours of productivity are lost per employee per year just looking for lost materials. With that in mind, the more accurate statement would be, “Once I clean up, I’ll have more time.”

It’s the mark of a good leader to think of yourself last, putting the needs of your workers, your company, and your family first. But spending a little time on yourself isn’t selfish. It makes you a better leader, business owner, mentor, and family member because it gives you more time and energy for the most important tasks.

Information may be abridged and therefore incomplete. This document/information does not constitute, and should not be considered a substitute for, legal or financial advice. Each financial situation is different, the advice provided is intended to be general. Please contact your financial or legal advisors for information specific to your situation.

Related Articles

How to Pay Yourself When You’re Self-Employed

You made the leap. You’re a full-time freelancer. Each and every day…

Read more

What’s The Difference? Self-Employed, Freelancer, Business Owner, Or Solopreneur

From self-employed to freelancer to business owner to solopreneur, there are a…

Read more

106 Business Tools for Freelancers, Consultants and Side Hustlers

For freelancers, productivity is an asset. The more efficient you are, the…

Read more