The reality is that this scenario would probably make tax season even more stressful. If the money wasn’t taken out, you might think you had more spending money available than you do, and then not have enough left later on when the tax bill was due. (If you’ve ever owned your own business, you may have experienced this and it doesn’t feel good!)
That’s why governments automatically deduct money before you receive it. It may seem annoying and frustrating, but the reality is that they’re doing you a huge favor by helping you to allocate your money correctly without you having to put extra thought into it.
This principle of automatic investment can also work in your favor with your time. With the right systems in place to pre-allocate your time and energy to your goals, you’ll be more productive and less stressed.
Here’s how to put this into action:
Recognize What’s Neglected: What do you keep saying that you want to move forward and get done—but just don’t? It may be keeping up on industry trends, meeting with other creative professionals, or cleaning off your desk.
Try a Simple Approach: Sometimes just a small change can make a big difference. See if there are small commitments you can make to set up automatic time investments that align with your goals. By making these time commitments predestined and automatic, you reduce the friction and decision making power needed to accomplish them.
For example, you could subscribe to an industry publication and read it every time it arrives to catch up on trends. You could join a professional group for people in your field and meet up once a month to connect or network with other creatives. Or you could commit to clearing off your desk every day before you leave your office, so you start the next day with a clean slate. All of these activities turn goals from something you might feel frustrated by not doing, but don’t invest time in, to a natural part of your schedule.
Dive Deeper When Simple Isn’t Enough: Simple is good. But when you find that a small tweak to your lifestyle isn’t accomplishing your goals, a more in-depth approach can help. Here’s what this could look like in the case of wanting to connect with more creative professionals:
- Decide on your objective: I would like to meet with at least two people in my field every month.
- Define your parameters: I’m open to having professional meetings at lunch or right after work. I don’t want to schedule the meetings on the weekends or later at night.
- Think backward: Most people need a few weeks notice to set something up so I need to put a reminder in my calendar to reach out to those I want to meet at the beginning of each month.
- Anticipate issues: Some months I have a more packed schedule, so for those it would be best to set up phone or Skype calls instead of in-person meetings.
- Remember why: I regain energy through connecting with others in my field, and come away with fresh ideas or perspectives that dramatically improve my work.
- Review and recalibrate: Try setting up times with other creative professionals by reaching out at the beginning of each month and see what happens. If it works, fantastic! If not, review what was effective or ineffective, and use that insight to help you adapt and refine your approach going forward.
By making your time investment automatic, you can finally move forward on what’s important to you with minimal stress and effort.
[This article was adapted from How to Invest Your Time Like Money, now available on Amazon.]