Rethink Your Time Investment: Are You Spending 80% of it on the Wrong 20%?

Just like financial investments, each day you make time investment choices that determine the course of your life. The problem is, it’s not until we hone in on where our time is going that we realize something’s not adding up.

The 80/20 dilemma

Have you ever heard that 20% of your problems take up 80% of your time?

It’s the same with people.

One of the most frustrating parts of my job as a supervisor was time spent dealing with “bad apples.”

One time that sticks out was when I had to deal with two back-to-back “BIG UGLY’ HR issues.

To give you perspective (and maintain confidentiality), both “issues” involved a glut of lawyers, HR managers, risk-managers, top-level executives, and their boss, who just happened to be me.

I was frustrated. I wanted to focus my time investment on people who were not in trouble.

Countless hours are spent, even wasted, worrying about, and dealing with these problems.

Don’t forget the mental space lost by having these issues play on your mind. More importantly, those are the same hours you could have spent investing in those who need – and deserve – your time.

Rethink your time investment

Imagine what could have been accomplished if all of those resources wasted on the bad apples could have been invested in high potential people.

Everyone on my team knew about the conduct of these two people. Most thought they had been unfairly getting away with something for a long time. The big surprise was that the matter had finally been dealt with.

As leaders, it is our job to deal with issues and problems.

But, when issues and problems threaten strategic goals and team dynamics, what is the cost to the organization and our people?

(Click here to read about the high cost of poor leadership.)

On reflection, three things come to mind:

  1. Don’t overthink things. Manage the risk and get rid of the problem as fast as you can.
  2. People are not stupid. They often know more about what is going on than you do.
  3. Keep your eye on your goals. Invest time in those who can help you get there.

Now, take each of these three points and apply them to how you make your own time investment decisions.

Speaking of time, invest three minutes in this article right now to learn what to discuss with your team to create a lifetime of positive change (for everyone).

How to make better time investments

If you ask me, the first step to making investments simply begins with being conscious of where and what you invest.

When it comes to a time investment, you’ll want to consider if you’re making the best possible use of that time.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Am I spending time on things and people that help me reach my goals?
  • Am I making the best possible use of my time?
  • Will this action move me/my organization closer to the desired result?
  • What kind of ROI am I getting for my time? Does it make sense?

Remember, you wouldn’t choose a handful of stocks to invest in without doing your research to determine your odds of getting the best ROI. The same should go for your time. Make a conscious effort to focus your time investment on the things, people, and tasks that need it most.

(Don’t miss these three other questions to ask before you waste time, money, and people!)

Did you learn a lot from this post on time investment? Don’t miss these ones either:

5 Tools That Helped Me Survive a Workplace Bully (Guest post)
80% Of Projects Fail Because Of ‘People’ Issues … Here Are 6 Things You Can Do To Reduce That Risk
People Pleasing Leaders & Soup Sandwiches – 5 Messes You Make When You Try to Make Everyone Happy

This article was originally published in 2014. It was updated in 2020 just for you!