Return on Time Invested

According to western traditions, we are at the start of a new year. This is a time when all resolutions are forged in purposes and actions. Most for a short while. We focus on what is ahead. Have we learned from the recent past though?

For me 2023 has been a fantastic year by many accounts. Wanting to be honest with myself, though, there is something I should have done better. I invested a lot of my time in projects that excited me without real concern of return om the time invested. I guess through the prism of the happy lenses, with a pinch of perennial optimism, all time shared was to be well invested.

Looking back now, even with an accurate valuation metric system of our projects, I am not convinced how one could have certainty that one’s focus is on the projects with the highest chance of return and thus focusing on a proportionate time invested. Once we start something that we believe in, it is my conviction that it is natural to focus on it and prioritise accordingly. How to know if our time is properly and proportionally invested, unless it is retroactively that is?

I do not have a degree of certainty on the matter. What I noticed however, is that everywhere around us, there is an overwhelming attempt to sell us shortcuts, top 10 hacks, secret easy steps to gain time and achieve immediate reward.

In 2023 I had already implemented the 30 minutes calls rule. If anyone wants a longer call, they need to send a detailed agenda on what items are to be treated in 1 hour that cannot be dealt with in 30 minutes, and why. Often, all is dealt in 30 minutes if the correct preparation has taken place. It focuses minds to know there is hard timeline to respect.

I cannot help but think that rewards come at the right time, when things have been done with the right vision and values, over a predefined period. Take compounding: you cannot achieve great results in the first 6 months or even years sometimes. But when you do and stay the course, with the right focus then results come. I was once told when visiting Russia, loosely translated, that it takes 1 lady 9 months to give birth and you cannot ask 9 pregnant ladies to give birth to one baby in 1 month…

Time is precious and we must invest it wisely, accepting the risk factor and being alert to it. Setting up the paths that will generate the return on time invested accurately, rather than investing time with no other expectation than a positive outcome, may be the first step for me. Understanding when to stop investing our time is also something to practice.

Closer to home, there is an old Tuscan say that sum it up for me: “questa vigna non fa uva”, that is, this vine does not produce grapes…

Simon Vumbaca

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