What do I mean exactly by the word “discern”?

The key definition that applies here is “having or showing good judgement”.

Said another way, what the question really asks is this:

If you are in a situation where your inner voice is screaming at you the following words:

“This is a waste of my precious time”.

What happens next for you?   What actions do you take? 

Do you:

  • Smile politely and sit through the boring workshop where the presenter clearly does not know how to teach adults. You know that you are gaining no value and wonder why you signed up. (How does one leave at the break to go do something else much more productive?)
  • Listen once again to that friend or family member or colleague (we all have at least one!) who rants about the same topic over and over again. This rant is the same rant you have heard many, many times before. (How does one tell the friend/family member/colleague to either solve the issue or stop calling?)
  • Have an hour long coffee with someone you just met at a networking event only to find out that you have nothing in common and cannot help in each other’s business. (How does one shorten the time when you find out that there is no synergy between you or was there an alternate way to connect, instead of in-person?)

The reality is that time wasters are active all around us, in many shapes and forms.

What To Do

Three keys to take back control of your time, right now:

  • Before you become aware of the inner voice, have a plan in mind on how to handle these situations. For example, it may be crucial that you have some phrases that you feel very comfortable using to extricate yourself from the situation.

(If the workshop is optional to attend, then explain to the instructor) “ I must leave at the break, as I have a commitment that has come up I need to focus on”  Then leave. 

I would love to hear more, but I really must get back to the (TASK X) I was doing.   I hope that this time you solve (name the problem)  once and for all!  I know how much this is bothering you.”  The key is to detach from the situation. 

(When on the phone)  “I would love to meet for coffee, if it makes sense for us both to commit the time. But first, let’s take the time right now to see if there is a good fit to do so.” (Then ask the following questions) “What type of clients do you serve?  What industry do you concentrate on?” If a fit, then meet. If not, then say that you enjoyed meeting them, but likely a face-to-face meeting would not be of value.   They will appreciate your honesty.

  • Understand that when you are honest with yourself on how you use your time and the choices you have made; you are living in personal integrity. If you allow others to direct your use of your precious time, you will be resentful toward yourself and them.
  • When you are aware of a time-waste situation, take action and move on. By doing so, you are honoring yourself and minimizing your frustration.

All in all, how you use your time does matter.

If you are productive, then you progress and feel good about accomplishments.

If you constantly fritter time, then it is time to have a conversation with yourself to make needed changes.

Which one works better for you?    What matters most right now?