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At some point you may have heard me tell you how, following my heart attack, I took time to reevaluate the way I used my time. I came up with a list of the five most valuable uses of time. My goal is to invest as much of every day as possible in these five areas.

• Investing time with God
• Investing time with people I love
• Investing time with myself
• Investing time in advancing my purpose in life
• Investing time in developing and building a team

Your list might be different from mine, but unless you make a conscious decision to direct your time, I can guarantee you that much of it will get wasted.

Investing time follows many of the same principles as investing money. Financial experts remind us that the answer to saving more money is often discovering where money is being wasted—then redirecting it toward our financial goals.

I've found the same principle works with time. Here are just a few simple ways to gain an extra hour or more a day that you can then give to something or someone you treasure.

Prepare to be Out of Touch
If you allow your phone, pager, email, or staff to interrupt you at will, you will spend your day dealing with other people's crises and never spend a moment on the things that are important to you. Set aside a specified time every day to return calls or email and meet with team members—but do so after you've invested in something of value to you.

Pick Something And Never do it Again
There are dozens of things you are doing now that could be, should be done by someone else or not at all. If pulling weeds is therapy for you, knock yourself out. If not, hire a neighbor kid to do it and buy back your time for pennies on the dollar. Whether it's mowing your yard, sorting mail, sleeping on airplanes, or mindlessly flipping channels on TV, there is something you could give up today and never miss. But the time you gain back will be invaluable.

Choose Your Mood
Know anyone who can't seem to work unless the conditions are just right? If he is upset or angry or depressed or lonely, he can't be productive. No one else can make you sad, glad, happy, or mad. Choose to be in the kind of mood that makes you productive and quit being held hostage by your emotions.

Forget Quick Fixes
Whether its hiring a team member, dealing with a critic, or learning a new skill, taking time to do it right the first time is always quicker in the long run than taking shortcuts. Taking a shortcut inevitably costs us again down the road.

We spend thousands securing our homes and cars against the thief waiting to break in and steal. Let's be just as diligent to make sure we don't steal from ourselves by going for the quick fix.

It's just a thought.

This article is used by permission from Dr. John C. Maxwell's
free monthly e-newsletter: Leadership Wired
available at

Author Biography

John C. Maxwell
Web site: Injoy Group
John Maxwell grew up in the 1950s in the small Midwestern city of Circleville, Ohio. John's earliest childhood memory is of knowing that he would someday be a pastor. He professed faith in Christ at the age of three, and reaffirmed that commitment when he was 13. At age 17, John began preparing for the ministry. He attended Circleville Bible College, earning his bachelor's degree in 1969. In June of that same year, he married his sweetheart, Margaret, and moved to tiny Hillham, Indiana, where he began his first pastorate.

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