There are two things in life that are freely given to us as human being – first is the air we breathe and the other is time. But only one of these cannot be preserved. That is TIME.

Air has been bottled and thanks to this, many lives have been saved. However, despite various Hollywood movies on “time travel”, the amount of time given to each person cannot be preserved. Time gone past cannot be recovered; it cannot be bought with all the currency in the world. The one hour spent yesterday doing nothing cannot be bottled and added to the 24 hours available today. This shows how precious each moment of time is.

So, why do so many of us take such valuable resource for granted? Possibly because it is “Free”. Oftentimes “freebies” are considered to have little or no value. If I purchased a leather-bound notebook and received a free pen with my purchase, I am likely to value the notebook much more than the pen. We fail to appreciate the true value of the pen because it wasn’t paid for. Imagine that we knew that the pen was a limited-edition expensive item, we would surely treasure it.

This is the same with time. If neglected, time isn't used effectively and achievements are limited.  Although it is free, time is a highly valuable resource. When used effectively, it has the potential to bring great benefits. 

In this blog, we share two basic changes to our attitude to time that will help us to start discovering its true value.

  1. The attitude of African time

For those who are unaware of the concept of “African Time”, it is described as a more relaxed attitude to time. Or to put it bluntly, it is the attitude of Always being late! This attitude has unfortunately become the norm across the African continent - from leaders of organisations, to political leaders all the way to the general populous.

We are late for many reasons, but mostly because we do not treasure time: our own time or the time of the persons we are meeting.

Being late disrespects other people. Turning up late for an appointment indicates that one does not value that appointment. Whenever I am late for an appointment, I evaluate the true reason for this. Usually, it because I fail to prepare adequately for this appointment and because I did not consider the value of time - either the time of the other person waiting for me or the value I would have gained to an event if I was on time. Possibly I left home late or I did not consider road conditions and potentially traffic etc. But usually, there are circumstances that are within my control. If I wanted to, I could have done things differently and arrived on time. If the appointment was for a flight or to make a million dollars, I would have made it on time. So why not when I have a meeting with my assistant, a potential business partner, a friend or for a church service?

This attitude eventually pervades everything we do; it becomes a habit that affects our personal appointments and schedules leading to inefficiencies and ineffectiveness. Imagine you had an appointment for a haircut. You arrive late and your stylist is already working on another client. You have to wait and an appointment that should have taken an hour takes 3 hours simply because you were taking a relaxed attitude to time. This one delay has a knock-on effect on the rest your day.

  1. The attitude of Procrastination:

Many years ago, I saw the quote

“Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway”.  

This is a powerful quote and had guided my actions for many years. Many of us push decisions; the decision to start a business, to study, to volunteer for charitable work,  etc. If you miss the opportunity to subscribe for a course this year, you can always take the course next year. However, you would have lost a year that can never be recovered. Again, there is a knock-on effect of such procrastination.

Take the example of 2 young guys with similar backgrounds. One is called Ade, the other is called Ola. Both finished university with similar grades and have ambitions of being web developers, but are unable to get paid employment in their field. They settle for doing odd jobs.

Ade decides to spend his time studying whilst looking for his dream job. He finds a course where he can study at his own pace. The exams are every 3 months and he can take the exams whenever he feels prepared. Ade studies day and night and whenever he is not working. Within 3 months he takes the first set of exams and after a year, he successfully completes the course and starts to develop simple websites for friends and family and in a few months, he gets a full-time job.

Ola also wants to study, but keeps procrastinating. He feels he won’t have the time to study because of the odd jobs he is currently doing. Seeing that Ade had registered for this course; he decides to do the same. But he missed the registration deadline because he submitted the form late (African time). So, he had to wait for another 3 months before he could register. By this time, Ade had already completed the first set of exams. Ola puts the dream on hold because he did not believe he will have the time to accomplish it.

After 1 year, the time had passed –never to be recovered. His friend Ade now has a certification and has gained some experience that opened employment opportunities. He is now living his dream. On the other hand, Ola’s dream remains just that -dreams - as he continues to procrastinate into the future.

But all is not lost.

For Ola, even though he cannot recover the past, he can start NOW.

Whatever the dream, now is the time to start. Get rid of the attitude of procrastination and African-time. Get up and do something now. Every moment you have is valuable. This very moment is too valuable to let it past unused.

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