Time management: Are you losing your marbles?

Well in my case, I have exactly 1353 marbles left and I can prove it! Before you start questioning my sanity, let me explain. The amount of marbles represents the number of weeks I have left until I am 70 years old. Why 70 years old? According to United Nations World Population Prospects 2015

Revision, the average life expectancy is 69 years (67 years for males and 71.1 years for females); due to my misspent youth I decided to shave off a year. I turn 44 at the end of January 2018 so there is 1353 weeks before I turn 70. The reference to marbles is based on the fact that I actually have 1353 marbles in 2 jars in my living room right now.

Why? Well firstly I must state, it is not because I have some macabre obsession with when I may leave this earth. I am also fully aware that I have no control whether I will be making an early exit. But I do know two very important things and my jars of marbles are a visual and physical reminder of these two truths:

1. Time spent cannot be retrieved – spend it wisely

2. What is measured matters – we need to hold ourselves accountable

How this works. At the end of each week, I spend a few minutes reflecting on the past week. I take a look at what I have spent my time on, with whom, how I spent my time, and whether I actually achieved what I set out to do in the first place. This is not limited to work achievements but also to the commitments I’ve made to my friends and family. After an honest assessment of whether I have wasted one of my marbles (weeks) or whether this was really a worthwhile marble, I remove 1 marble from a closed jar and place it into the open jar.

I would love to tell you that every marble was a worthy one. Unfortunately, this would be a blatant lie. Fortunately, that is not the point anyway. The idea behind the concept is not to become a perfect focused, driven human being that spends every second of his or her day being productive. Far from it. For me, it is about spending my time on those people and activities that matter the most in my life.

More importantly, I have a “no regrets policy” and no matter when my marbles run out (pre- or post 1353), the process allows me to focus on the here and now and limits regrets. Physically seeing how many marbles are added to the open jar (time spent), reminds me that there is no time like the present to tackle that dream or goal.

Sometimes the end of the week assessment process may lead to me ending destructive relationships quicker than I would have in the past. There is simply not enough time for drama.

Now this idea may or may not work for you. If it doesn’t … that is fine – sharing the information about my process was on my week’s To Do list; something I can consider complete during my selfreflection process on Sunday.

A thought I would like to leave with you though is, time is precious – life is short; please don’t lose or waste your marbles on those things that don’t matter!

By Bianca van Wyk , Managing Director of Raising the Standards