Gold Time is probably the most ‘used-but-misused’ of the fundamental principles underpinning the Best Year Yet® system. Thousands of us say we practice Gold Time, but in reality few of us do it really well, all of the time. Of the hundreds of executives I’ve coached over the last 15 years, individually or in teams, the really impressive ones have, without exception, become Masters of Gold Time. Their secret is investing time in attending to the topics that matter in the long run.
Gold Time is the space in your schedule devoted to activities, tasks, projects and projects that are important but not urgent — at least not yet urgent. It’s what happens when you stop saying to yourself,
I’ll get fit, fix my finances, book the family holiday, study for the MBA, do the staff appraisals, attend to my Best Year Yet plan, have a staff meeting etc. when I’ve got the time. Just now I’m busy looking at my e-mails.
Gold Time distinguishes between the urgency and the importance of the tasks with which life presents us. Think of what fits into each of the following categories from your own to-do list.
This is urgent and important; that’s why I’m doing it now.
This is important but it’s not urgent, so it will have to wait.
This isn’t important to me, but somebody else may want it urgently, so I’d better do it now.
This is neither important nor urgent – so why the heck am I doing it?
Although it’s hard to argue with a proposition that offers top-drawer results simply by becoming more discerning about how you spend your time, it’s lamentable how few of us make that transformation: “I’ll do it when I have the time” is what we say to make our shortcomings sound OK. “Can’t you see I’m a busy person?”
The people who garner the real benefits from Gold Time are following some time-proven rules:
Have the right paradigm about the value of Gold Time, because it can be risky
“Why are you doing that stuff,” says the boss, “when you’ve got all these urgent things to do?” It can also be seen as selfish. “Why are you going to the gym when the kids need you to play with them?” Gold Time Masters have the unshakeable belief that investing time now will reap ten-fold benefits in the future. And one-time critics will very soon become admirers when the mother lode of Gold Time is revealed.
Be a Gold Time junkie — an opportunist
Gold Time comes in two varieties: it can be planned and in your weekly schedule. Or it can be ‘gifted’, whic happens when a meeting is canceled, a plane delayed or appointment turns up late. You’ve got a slug of free time you weren’t expecting. Treat it as a gift. A Gold Time ‘entrepreneur’ will know what’s currently on the agenda by having a Gold Time list: calls to be made, texts to read, goals to update’ gifts to be bought, supportive messages to be sent, expenses to be claimed, appraisal forms to completed thoughtfully.
Be in the right place
Allowing yourself to be distracted is a major impediment to the successful practice of Gold Time. Typically it doesn’t succeed at a busy workstation, or the breakfast table or with work buddies in the pub – although it can in itself be a GT activity. You need to expose yourself to the danger of having some serious, unobstructed thought, itself an ‘out of the comfort zone’ experience for many of us. Where can you take yourself off to that guarantees uninterrupted time for thinking, reviewing, deciding and taking action? Starbucks? Your parked car? The city library? Your silent home when the family is out?
I’ve lost count of the people who tell me ‘I do most of my thinking when I’m driving.’ The problem here – apart from the lack of attention to the road – is the absence of subsequent action. It’s absolutely vital to take out of your Gold Time session wherever it takes place, a record of whatever you’ve committed yourself to do.
And then do it.
- Adopt an empowering paradigm towards Gold Time.
- Both plan for and ‘snatch’ your Gold Time.
- Have a ‘Gold Time List’ always in your ‘back pocket’ ready for the snatched opportunities.
- Put your self in the right place.
- Commit to and take the actions your Gold Time decisions demand.
“The crucial role of top management is to create the conditions in which individual managers can thrive”.
Peter Baxter’s career has been spent predominantly in financial services, initially in sales and more recently
in marketing and product development. His last two corporate jobs were as Marketing Director, first at
Abbey Life and then for the life and unit trust companies at Natwest Bank. It was at Natwest that he first experienced the power of culture in driving business results. This continues to be his primary focus in facilitating successful business teams and coaching executives.
Peter Baxter is a UK-based partner of Best Year Yet LLC, a global organisation, headquartered in Colorado, USA and operating on five continents.
He works within the Best Year Yet community as a programme facilitator and business coach. In the ten years since the launch of the business, he has facilitated upwards of 75 teams and their leaders, in a range of large organisations. His commercial experience makes him a particularly valuable contributor to coaching and change programmes in large financial services businesses.
Our role is to create an exclusive, secure environment in which executives and senior managers are stimulated and encouraged to higher levels of achievement. We characterise this as developing the skill of ‘self mastery’, enabling individuals to boost their ability to:
- Recognise and work upon, behaviours that are holding them back.
- Distinguish between those things that are ‘important’ and those which are simply ‘urgent’.
- Successfully confront the difficult issues facing them.
- Focus on those goals that simply must be achieved.
- Step beyond short-term issues and start to live in the organisation’s future.
- Achieve that balance between work and private life that is missing for so many of us.