speedThe Internet abounds with stories about saving time. There are ways to cook faster, exercise quicker, and retire sooner. These ideas and many others come under the banner headline that your life will be better if you save time.

But I’m more curious about something a little different: Why don’t we focus as much on losing time?

It’s a small tweak to the time discussion, but one I keep going back to. We can’t really save time, but the headlines imply otherwise. So I ask the question, how could we lose time better?

The issue of time comes up a lot in business. I recently read that Google killed a research project to extend mobile battery life by 5-10 times after only nine months. Most projects pursued by Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) group get two years. But the battery project “just wasn’t good enough,” so it died an early death.

This story offers the perfect example of how to lose time better. In theory, the ATAP group could have stuck with the project for the full two years. However, they believed those 15 other months could be better spent on something else. So they only “lost” nine months on the project instead of 24.

What could that look like in our own businesses?

  • Do you continue to let a high-maintenance client suck up all of your time (at no extra charge) because you’re afraid you can’t replace the income?
  • Do you keep plowing more time into a “passion” project and ignore real projects that could have an impact on your business?
  • Do you spend hours online trolling websites and social media, all the while telling yourself you’re doing research?

Here’s a hard truth. We’re experts at ferreting out ways to save time and patting ourselves on the back for our efficiency. We’re wimps when it comes to losing time.

I speak from experience. Some days I lose time to perfection. Other days, I tell myself that reading yet another article on saving time is a perfect loss of my time.

I suggest adding quick time checks throughout our days and weeks. If you find yourself doing something for more than an hour, hit the pause button. Did the last hour get you closer to getting something done that needs to be done? Do you need another hour?

A short interruption can help you refocus, and assess how you’re using time so that you use it wisely.

The same holds true for longer projects. If you’re working on something over multiple days, take a moment to do a check on days two, three, four, etc. Could you be losing time better?

No matter how good we get at saving time, we’re going to lose it. We just need to make sure that when we do, it’s time well lost.

How do you plan to lose your time wisely?