168 Hours, Are You Wasting Time, Spending Time, or Investing Time?

Guest Post by Dr. John H. Wilson, PhD, MBA, Founder of Strategic Collisions International, LLC and Co-author of be Hardwired to be a Great Leader (2022)

168 Hours

That’s the total amount of time each person has in a week. We’ve all got a lot to do, so a key question I like to ask myself and my team is:

Are you wasting time, spending time, or investing time?

Since you are reading the Leading With Questions blog, I’m confident that you are trying to make the most of your time; you have goals and are working to meet them. Consider how you could maximize time through self-leadership and opportunity cost.

Time is a key resource, and it’s seriously scarce, so let’s view these 168 hours through the conceptual lens of ‘opportunity cost.’ We spend our time on one activity at the expense and exclusion of another. We seize one opportunity and sacrifice another. We can’t do it all, so we make choices. 

I’ve found that a diagnostic tool can be helpful in making the best decisions when it comes to spending time. We all want to optimize the use and allocation of time, and that means confidently spending it on high-impact, high-value choices. High-value actions are those which have the most impact on achieving your goals.

How can we ensure that high-value actions are getting the time they need to meet our goals? I’d suggest using a journal and the exercise below to make a list of the categories that take up your time at work. If possible, label them with actual percentages. Next to these percentages, write down a target for what percentage of your 168 each category should consume to gain the greatest effect.

  • If there is a discrepancy, what would need to happen in order to make the change to the ideal scenario?
  • What would be the effect if you were to spend your time based on the ideal target mix?

Just think of the impact on your goals if you were to spend your time ideally!

Leading yourself to invest your time thoughtfully is one of the first steps to leading your team well. By reading this blog, you are already demonstrating that you are a caring leader. As you continue to grow in self-leadership, you will be best positioned to lead your team. Other self-leadership skills include self-monitoring, self-talk, and natural rewards.

Self Monitoring: Leading and monitoring others begins with leading and monitoring ourselves. Consider how to best monitor your daily work, possibly through an app, calendar, analog card, or checklist. But, don’t just stop there, reward yourself for achieving set goals. Putting your goals and their related rewards in writing can be very motivating.

Self Talk: Next, talk to yourself. Communication with yourself can be a powerful self-leadership tool and may help clarify your goals, priorities, hopes and plans. This self-coaching can be an affirmation, a rehearsal, a reiteration of prerogatives, or talking aloud through a challenge you are facing.

Natural Rewards: Finally, identify the ‘natural rewards’ of your work. Those aspects of your job or venture that drive and excite you. Focus on these when you are performing tasks or obligations of your job that you aren’t particularly fond of.

Great leaders will first coach, empower, and lead themselves to high performance! This is where real change will start to happen. After you have worked through leading yourself into the best use of your 168 hours, you’ll feel ready to do the same for your team. Ask the people on your team:

  • Are you wasting time, spending time, or investing time?
  • What are common pitfalls to wasting time?
  • What are one or two high impact activities in your life?
  • What is one specific way you could self-monitor in your daily work?
  • Where could you create space in your life to ‘talk yourself’ through your challenges?
  • What aspects of your work energize or drive you? And, how could you match these with tasks or duties that you aren’t fond of so that you can put these into perspective?
  • What is one goal you have right now?
  • How might you reward yourself for achieving your goal?

‘168 hours’ is the first topic covered in my recent ebook,  Hardwired To Be A Great Leader (2022). Subsequent chapters address leading with inspiration, creating work culture, goal setting, and strategic planning. You can get a copy at https://www.strategiccollisions.com/ebook-hardwired-to-be-a-greatleader/ebook-hardwired-to-be-a-greatleader

Each and every week, I hope you will love what you do, and make the most of the 168 hours you and your team have!

John H. Wilson & Thomas N. Tavantzis


Dr. John H. Wilson, PhD, MBA – is an entrepreneur, intrapreneur (corporate
entrepreneur), and scholar with more than twenty-five years of experience as a business leader in
the software & services industries. Also, the founder of Strategic Collisions International, LLC, a
teaching professor at Drexel University’s Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship, and YouTube influencer, The_Entre_Professor.

Dr. Thomas N. Tavantzis, PhD, M.Ed. – is an organizational and leadership
psychologist who uses psychometric tools, like the Highlands Assessment Battery (HAB), to develop teams, leaders, and career options for individuals. Also, the Co-Founder of Innovative
Management Development, LLC. (with his wife, Martha) and a Professor and Director of
Organizational Psychology and Leadership Program at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.


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