time investmentHow often do you sit in a meeting, finish a movie, or finally get to the front of a shopping line and think, “Well, that was a waste of time”?

I just read a good article from the Harvard Business Review on common time investment mistakes by Time Management Coach and Trainer, Elizabeth Saunders. Saunders has a unique job: she works with people to completely change how they spend (or rather, invest) their time. She has some good ideas on how to avoid wasting your time and has a new book out called How to Invest Your Time Like Money, which I’m looking forward to reading.

Her article contains the following list of time investment mistakes. You’ve heard them before, but they are a good reminder of what we shouldn’t be doing.

 Time Investment Mistakes

  1. Not paying attention: Know where you spend your time.
  2. Letting others steal your time: You don’t have to go to that meeting or see that acquaintance.
  3. Deprioritizing family and friends: It’s worth the effort to see those you really care about.
  4. Skipping vacations: More about this later.
  5. Neglecting your health: A no-brainer, yet this is tough for us in the United States because we don’t have a good health culture.
  6. Wasting time to save money: Sometimes it pays to pay for something.
  7. Never knowing yourself: Pay attention to what you want to do.

I’m sharing this because these reminders came at a really good time for me. I’ve been trying to plan a 10th Anniversary vacation for my husband and I this year; the first vacation without kids in nearly five years. What would have been a simple trip pre-kids, has quickly become a logistical nightmare to get the kids to Grandma’s with enough money and time left over to enjoy the trip. I was about to give up when I read this article and realized that we really do need to make this time investment in our marriage. It may cost us up front, but it will pay dividends later in memories and our health too.

How to Start Investing

My favorite time management trick is to pay yourself first. Block time first thing in the morning – before you even check emails – to do your most important thing. If you’re useless in the morning, then block time during your favorite time of day to do something you care about. Maybe that’s spending time with your kids or working on a conference submission. Maybe it’s exercising or meditating or writing. Whatever it is that day, make the time to do it. The investment will be well worth your time.

Bonus Article & Tip: As I was researching Saunders work, I came across another article on Inc.com about what extraordinary time managers do, including lose the perfectionism and ruthlessly prioritize. Love it!