Fridays with Phil

Life, family and unshakeable faith



Today’s potential

It is true that some get more out of their 60 minutes in the hour than others.

What makes you more likely to reach today’s potential is directly related to how you put your time to use. You see, time is life.  When we let time ‘pass by’, life sails on by with it.  Time is a non-renewable commodity.  It is more important than energy and more valuable than money.

To manage time, I have learnt that sometimes slower is actually faster.

Preparation may seem like a slower process than just getting stuck in and doing it.  However, planning your approach can actually save hours of wasted trial and error.

Whenever I am preparing for a holiday, I spend time planning as much as I can.  I prefer to arrive departure card completed as well as knowing my plan for transit from the airport so I can start enjoying a new city.

Planning isn’t a kill-joy, it actually allows you more time to be spontaneous.

In making the most of time, learn to do the shuffle.   Shuffle things around to best make use of time available.

If you’re a morning person, don’t leave your most draining tasks until late at night.  Use your time to your advantage.

When I was working in Auckland CBD, if I left home half an hour earlier, it saved me almost an hour in peak-hour traffic.  Instead of wasting time in transit, I organised my life to leave earlier and use that time on the other end for meditation before starting my work day.  I could literally save time by planning well.

Psalm 90: 10-12 says, ‘Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away… Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

I hope today that we may make the most of our time, as men and women with hearts of wisdom.

Being efficient is doing things with excellence in the least amount of time.  Being effective is knowing which things to do efficiently.  Doing the wrong things efficiently is not the most effective use of time.

It can be as simple as working out what you value.

When you decide that, it will help you prioritise your time.   Values help you determine what’s important and therefore make the tough calls when they need to be made.  The word “no” is a powerful time management tool.

Using time well is a way of honouring the important in your life, the people around you and the values you live by.

Right use of the right time for the right purpose brings about right outcomes.

Are there phone calls you can make in transit instead of when you are with other people?  Could a phone call save you driving across town for a meeting? Or could you strategically organise your meetings near each other?

I would encourage you to do the mundane, routine tasks which require less energy when your energy is low or you’re tired, not during your most valuable times or when you have the highest energy levels.

When I was coaching a young married couple, they were frustrated that they had no time off to have fun.  What time they did get off, they spent doing chores – washing, cleaning the house etc.

I encouraged them to learn to shuffle based on what they valued (i.e. time together).  They could steal slices of time on weeknights, for example, ironing on Monday, vacuuming on Wednesday, washing on Friday.  You would be amazed at how it freed up the large block of time they wanted for their weekend.

Just a few of my thoughts on harnessing today’s potential.


The three-minute challenge

I’m writing this at an airport.  I’m watching people say goodbye to loved ones and it makes me wonder what they are saying.

What I hope is that it isn’t the first time they have said it during their time with each other.

Did they wait until the last three-minutes they had together to say the most important and meaningful exchanges: “I love you”, “Thank you”, “I’ll miss you”?

So often that’s the case.  We have friends over for dinner, spend hours communicating, and it’s only at the door, saying goodbye, that we talk about our appreciation for their friendship and hospitality.

I was touched this past week when friends of 30 years shared on our first night together how much our friendship meant to them.  Unfortunately, these sentiments of love and affection are often left until departure or remain entirely unsaid.

Too often the most important exchange of feeling and relationship are left until our final moments together. 

I believe there is a better way.  What would our relationships be like if we started our exchanges with the most important and finished satisfied that we had communicated the important?

Don’t you ever wonder why you didn’t have intimate conversations earlier?  Tragically, many people never have them at all.

My challenge, our challenge, is to reverse the trend and use our last words first. 

I cannot remember my dad and I speaking deeply about our love for each other until we were both adults, and at first it was awkward.  But it became easier and now several years after his death I’m very glad I ventured out of my comfort zone to say what mattered.

Believe me, this has been one of my life’s biggest challenges.  I am naturally a reserved guy keeping my feelings of love and deep feelings of emotion to myself.  But I have had to learn to change.  I realise now that the love of others and for others needs to be communicated more easily and readily.

Life is precious and relationships are priority.

The richest relationships include conversations about the things that really matter.

I once read about a leadership development seminar where the facilitator asked people to give a three-minute talk to everyone imagining that at the end they would die.  I know it sounds morbid but it challenged them to focus on the important.

What would you say in those last three minutes?  And who would you say it to?

Now take that and bring it forward, to today.  Tell someone today you love them, spend three minutes writing them a card, an email, or giving them a call.

While I confess I’m not great at this, my friends have taught me something valuable, that if we get better at it, our lives will be the richer.  If it is something new to you, aim to start small, just say something.  The more you do it, the more comfortable and natural it will become.

Don’t leave it until last, until the goodbyes of life.

Use your last words first.


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