A few weeks back, I made a mistake on a client’s calendar. It was embarrassing and frustrating as I had sent her down to lower Manhattan for a networking lunch and didn’t send the invite to the person she was meeting. It’s something I typically don’t do and frankly I consider myself an expert in managing time and schedules, so it really felt like a “fail.”
Still, as I learned years ago as a golf coach, “Everyone makes mistakes, it's those who learn how to recover the best and the fastest that win.” So, I went into full recovery:
Take complete responsibility for the mistake.
Create a game plan on how to not make the same mistake again.
Provide compensation for the time or money lost.
This is what I did:
I sent an apology email immediately.
Explained that I would now do a weekly task of making sure every appointment on the calendar was sent to the other party(ies) involved in the appointment.
I gave her a $150 refund on her contract and sent it immediately back to her credit card.
The first and second recovery actions may make complete sense, but the third may not to many. Still, for me, I gave her the money back because TIME is MONEY. I made her lose about two hours of her time - leaving her office, taking a train, waiting at the restaurant, and then making her way back to her office. Therefore, I paid her a little beyond what our company would have charged for that time.
Needless to say, the client did accept the apology and was grateful for the credit, so we are continuing with a great relationship. And, even more important than the forgiveness of the client is the forgiveness of myself for making such an error. Seriously, even the best of us doing the things that we do best, make mistakes.
Still, the experience did spur on a thought of how our time really is our money. So, here are 4 ways to start seeing your time as money:
1. Choose your company
Most of us would not spend $200-300 dollars on an activity that made us miserable. So, why are we giving up our time spending it with people that we are miserable with for FREE?
Start asking yourself what is really worth your time. This should involve family members (yes, I did say it and mean it,) friends, co-workers, and even clients. If you have the ability to stop spending time with the people you don’t enjoy, start doing it. If you can’t control it as much, figure out how to limit the time or create boundaries around it (I.e,. “I can spend 30 minutes on the phone with you, but I have a dead stop at such and such time”).
2. Choose your activities
Spend the most time on activities that are meditative and give you energy. Then, figure out how to spend less time on the things that you don’t enjoy or delegate them to someone else all together.
If it’s worth giving up the $100.00/ hour (or insert your hourly rate here) you would get if you were working, if not, then it's probably not worth your time. Stop doing things that are depleting your energy, making you unhappy, or simply not worth your time to do.
3. Choose your work
One of my great friends Erin Andersen is continuously posting about toxic work culture and how it is so 1950s. We live in a day and age where you don’t have to bear and grind through a job you don’t like. You can make money and have a great salary for what you enjoy doing.
If you really do have a job right now that you don’t enjoy and feel you can’t change it, then stop investing so much of yourself into the job. Do what you have to do to get the paycheck and STOP doing anything extra.
4. Do more of what you love
Start with just one small thing a week. It could be learning a new language on Duolingo because you always dreamed of going to that special place…. or a glass of wine every day after work while you watch your favorite show. Or it could be an extra 20-minute walk before you get home for some extra downtime.
The idea is that small things add up. So start with something small you can do 2-3 times a week for twenty minutes and once you have made it a habit, add another thing 20 minutes a day a few days a week. You will see that you will have 1) More energy for everything else you may not enjoy so much 2) More energy for the people and things that you do love 3) That it will get easier and easier to build habits that really sustain energy and well-being.
When we really stop to think about what we are willing to pay for and then equate it to our own time and what it’s worth, it helps us reevaluate how to use our time and energy. Our time is indeed the most valuable entity in our lives. We never get it back, so start thinking that everything you do is worth a million dollars (or at least $522/hr! - that’s what you have to make an hour for an 8 hr a day/ 5 day a week job to earn a million a year!) of your time and see where it starts taking you!