I am a little impulsive at times and that has sometimes led me into trouble. But whilst impulsivity has its risks, so does procrastination.

Ever since I was young I have recognised the value of time.  I admire people who are able to cram their life full of experience and achievement.  What I admire most is not that they use their talents to best effect (although that is something I do admire), but that they use their time to best effect.  Time is that one precious, finite resource that forms the common fabric of all our lives. Some people use it to create rich and full lives; others waste time or wish it away.

Time is that one precious, finite resource that forms the common fabric of all our lives.

There are many and complex reasons why people have different attitudes and responses to time; too many to consider here.  My purpose in this article is to make one simple point: a key to making the best use of time is to overcome procrastination. Don’t spend forever thinking about what to do; get in and do it.

I am not suggesting you shouldn’t think about your actions, or you shouldn’t prepare properly.  Thoughtful consideration and preparation are a necessary prelude to effective action.  But nothing happens unless you take action. Do it now means you take action and you don’t waste time.

I recall a man I knew more than 30 years ago. I was doing a course at the time and he was a visiting lecturer.  He came for two periods of six weeks.  He was a fantastic lecturer and I learnt a lot from his classes.  But the most important lesson I learnt from him, and one that has helped shape my life, was contained in what he did rather than what he said. I remember seeing him on many occasions sitting in his office from early morning till late in the day preparing his lessons.  He sat focused, not wasting a moment of time.  Some students considered his behaviour a little extreme, but he knew that if he were to deliver the quality of service he wanted, he would need all the time allocated to him.

Of course, we need to live balanced lives and we need to allocate our time wisely. As a wise man once said, there is a time for everything under the sun.  But we must be careful not to waste time.

Now you may ask what wasting time means.  There is no single definition of what wasting time means: what one person considers a waste of time may seem perfectly legitimate to someone else. But we all know when we are procrastinating. We know when we should do something and we’re putting it off.  That’s when we are wasting time.

Sometimes I must admit to procrastination, but then I remember my old lecturer and I begin to feel guilty about it.  My old lecturer has since passed away, but what he taught me lives on. I pass his lesson on to you in the hope it helps you make the most of your time.

Dr Steve Barlow