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Start counting those minutes lost than focus on the hours

A good way to go about it is to cut down on all those sneak peeks of your smartphone

Gulf News

I’m not a big fan of New Year Resolutions ... it’s ridiculous to make a promise that you know that you’re going to break. But, I am a believer in using the change of the year to make changes to yourself. For me there is something inviting about the change of the year, to inspire me to craft a fresh future.

For decades, I’ve paused during the week between Christmas and New Year to reflect on the completing year and set goals about the upcoming one. One of my good friends, Richard Lee, challenged me to do this in 1997 and since then it’s become a habit. I spend time thinking about what I accomplished in the past year, what I didn’t accomplish that I wish I would’ve, and how the year played out differently than I anticipated.

Often, those differences are positive. I find that concentrating one what you want enables you to keep focused and results in achieving more.

During this week of thinking about what do I want, I like to ask myself, “Knowing what I know now if I could do this year over again, what would I do differently?” I’ve discovered that a few goals show up year after year without any real progress being made on them. That’s really frustrating to me.

But each year I learn treasured lessons that shape who I’ve become. For example, I’ve learnt the importance of having five coffees per week, with people whom I want to get to know better. This makes life richer and more rewarding.

This past year, I learnt the value of time. For most of my life, I’ve echoed the mantra, time is money. But it was this year that I really began to understand how valuable it is.

Given the work that we’ve been doing on productivity, I’ve spent the year thinking about minutes more than hours, and shocked myself by how easy it is to waste them.

Several weeks ago, I downloaded the app Moments to track how many times I pick my phone up per day, how many minutes I spend on it and what I do on it. What it revealed was frightening. I was in the habit of picking my phone up over 100 times per day.

What a distraction it is — 100 times a day works out to once every ten (waking) minutes. Every ten minutes I allowed myself to waste time, which equated to over three hours per day. I won’t share with you the most embarrassing part, which is how I spent those hours.

I was gutted when I saw which apps had taken control of my life.

To fight this, I logged out of the culprit apps so that anytime I’m tempted to use one, I have to enter my password. This brief pause is enough to nudge me in the right direction: to maximise the minutes.

This matters to me because spending more time on my phone has never made my annual goal list, yet I’ve accidentally become very good at it. At the expense of having the time to do what I intend to do. Every year, I have growth goals, physical goals, family goals, work goals. These all require time.

If I reduce my phone time by 12 minutes per day, I’ll gain the equivalent of an entire work week each year. What would you do with an extra work week? If you were to really limit your time on Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, etc you may be able to regain an entire work month.

You are sitting on a gold mine of time. If time is money, you’re richer than you knew. All you have to do is make the minutes count by counting the minutes.

I’m hoping that this discovery from 2017 will shape my 2018, making it the most productive year I’ve ever had and give me the time for what I want. I want to spend more time with my family, more time working. I want to read more. I want to be a better athlete. What do you want?

The writer is a CEO coach and author of “Leadership Dubai Style”. Contact him at