Time is a finite resource. Therefore, we must learn how to spend it well. I believe there are, at least, three different types of time: invested time, buffer time, and rebated time. Learning the distinctions between the three types and how to manage them effectively will ensure you are making the most of this important and limited resource.
Let’s start with Invested Time. This is time you spend that will save you time in the future. A good example of this is setting up online bill pay one time so you don't have to pay each bill manually every month. Like financial investments, invested time is something that may not show huge results right away, but the saved time will add up with longer or more investments. Here are a few more examples of invested time:
- Organizing your home or workspace. While this can be time-consuming on the front end, organizing can save loads of time in the long run by making it easier to find things and get things done effectively.
- Establishing a system for managing your time. Having a time management system in place can help you stay on track and avoid wasting time. Some ways to manage time include creating a weekly plan or utilizing an Eisenhower Urgency Matrix.
- Delegate tasks. It can be tough to delegate when the person you are delegating to needs to be trained or standard operating systems need to be established. However, after the initial upfront investment of time, you should have more available time by not managing tasks now given to others.
The next term is Buffer Time, also called margin, which is the extra time you allocate in your plans. Plans are likely to change or shift so this is one of the best ways to maintain peaceful productivity with that reality. One common example of Buffer Time is when you hold an extra 15 minutes on your calendar between meetings. With Buffer Time, if one meeting runs over, you don't have to rush to the next one or arrive late. One of the best things about Buffer Time is the fact that it prevents well-developed plans from being ruined when one part of the plan changes. It keeps you flexible and able to respond well to inevitable changes.
Another benefit of Buffer Time is that it often leads to Rebated Time. This is time that is given back to you when a commitment does not require all of the allocated time. For example, if you held 60 minutes on your calendar for a meeting that only took 30, you now have 30 minutes of Rebated Time. You can use this time to work on other tasks or enjoy some self-care. In addition to time being a finite resource, it’s also not really a renewable resource. We cannot make any more time. However, Rebated Time is the closest we will come to ‘making’ more time because it’s minutes or hours that are given back to us.Simply being aware of the above time terms will be useful in your days. Now that you are aware, you may even start to see each of them show up in your days. However, if you’d like to take your peaceful productivity to the next level, check your plan for this week to see if you are utilizing Invested Time, Buffer Time, and Rebated Time. If you need additional help, remember we are always here for you. Reach out today for personal coaching and learn to better maximize your precious and finite time.