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You invest, or at least you want to, or you wouldn’t be reading this now.

But have you stopped to consider the investing mistakes you’re making?  You know, the neglected investments, the ones you’ve either forgotten about, or the ones you should be forgetting about?

As a new father in a growing family, I know how easy it is to get distracted by the crisis du jour, or the new shiny toy – be it the latest stock, the latest side hustle, or the latest investing strategy.

It’s important to get back to the basics and invest in what gives you the best return on investment.

In a word: you

Neglected Investment #1: Invest In Your Skills

How long has it been since you’ve done something to push the boundaries of your abilities?

It doesn’t have to be school.  Try a MOOC or other online course from Stanford Online or other institute.

Have you picked up a project at work – one that stretches your idea of what you’re able to accomplish?

Hit Youtube, and pick a topic you’ve always wanted to learn about.  BookbindingLlama herding?  Starting a blog?  Anything you can think of, someone has created a training video on it.

Find it, watch it, and most importantly, act on it!

And don’t think it has to be related to money.  Any investment in yourself will pay off with benefits in all aspects of your life, in the long run.

The most important step is the first one.  Get started.

Neglected Investment #2: Invest In Your Time

Time is the one thing you never get more of, at least not until life extension therapy becomes a reality.  So until the future is now, invest in your time – namely time saving methods, devices, and practices to make sure you’re investing your time where it’s most effective.

Outsource

Hate doing laundry?  Mowing the lawn?  Cleaning the bathroom?

Everyone has chores.  Some you love, some you tolerate, some you absolutely hate.

Hire someone to help you with the work you don’t want to do, so you can focus your time on the work that is most important.  What’s important is specific to you.  But whatever it is, it’s what makes the best use of your time to optimize for what matters most to you – possibly it makes you more money, or improves your efficiency, or gives you the time to spend with your family.

You know what you can afford financially.  So make sure you’re making a conscious choice about where you spend your time, and focusing it on what moves the needle.

Whatever you do, avoid doing work just to be doing work, or just to be busy, or because it has to be done.

Whenever you find yourself doing something you don’t like, take a step back and make sure it’s the best use of your time.

Manage Your Tasks

Do you find yourself forgetting to do things?  Maybe you have so much to do, you can’t keep track of it all?

Make sure you have a system for tracking your tasks.

For the longest time, I used a Franklin Covey paper planner.  When I made the transition to a mobile device (anyone remember the Palm Pilot?) I tried their software.  In a word, atrocious – buggy and frustrating.  Especially frustrating to me personally since I’m in the software business.

In today’s smartphone era, I live in Todoist for day to day tasks.  Trello is my favorite for collaborating with others on Enwealthen or projects with my family.  And there are many free options ranging from a pen & paper, to a simple text editor, to Google Tasks, up to David Allen’s Getting Things Done method.

To quote one of my favorite comedies, “With no plan, there can be no attack.  With no attack, no victory!

Make a plan, revisit it periodically, and get it done.

Whatever the system, the final goal is you have a single list in a single place, and everything goes in that list

Find a system that works for you, and use it.

Every single day.

But I Don’t Have Time!

Everyone has time.

We all have the exact same amount of time – 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, for 70 or 80 years (more, or less, depending on our genes, luck and perseverance).  If that’s not enough of a kick in the shorts, get your own personal death estimate, to see just how much time you have left, statistically speaking.

It’s sobering.  Especially when you’re on the far side of that projected life remaining.

How you choose to invest those remaining days is up to you.

If it means waking up at 5am to get things done before the family wakes up.  Do it.

If it means staying up late, do it.

If it means cutting the worthless things out of your life, do it.

If it means cutting the worthless people out of your life, do it.

Only you know what matters most to you.

If you can’t find the time, pick a time tracking app of your choice, and start measuring how much time you spend – surfing the internet, watching TV, commuting, social networking – and prepare to be shocked.

Now there will be times when you don’t have the time, for example, sole care provider for babies or elderly parents.  But for most of us, where and how we spend our time is entirely our choice.

Manage your time, or it will manage you.

Neglected Investment #3: Invest in Your Calm

Finally, invest in your calm.

As the death clocks reminds us, life is too short to waste on bad choices.  Eliminate the things that stress you out.

Bad relationship?  Leave.

Bad job?  Find a new one.

Bad finances?  Grow the gap between your income and expenses, eliminate your debt, invest.

I know, it’s hard.  Continuing down the path you’ve been on so far is soooo much easier.

But you know what?  It’s that easy path that has brought you right here, right now.

Don’t you think it’s time you stopped doing what’s easy and started doing what’s right?   Doing what will move you towards the future you want?

Increase the Peace

Now that you’ve reduced the stress, improve your peace of mind.

Exercise.

Yoga.

Massage.

Read.

Breathe.

Find what it is that lets you relax, and create the space to enjoy it.  No one else will do this for you.

What are you waiting for?

Take action now to invest in yourself, your time, and your calm.  You’ll be amazed at the return on your investment.

I hope you’ve found this useful! Tune in next time for investing mistakes you’re making right now.

Which one of these investments are you going to make today?  Did I forget to mention one?  Let me know in the comments below.

Photo of abandoned car and building courtesy of Wikimedia.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Hey Jack,

    I’ve been reading a lot this year. I set a goal to read 75 books in 2017 and I’m through 14 so far. Investing in yourself is key to getting ahead in life. While most people will be watching Netflix or out at the bar, I will be reading, growing, and becoming a more knowledgeable person.

    Thanks for the post, I look forward to reading your future content 🙂

    • That’s a lot of books. I’ve read similar amounts in the past, but now my reading is more The Very Hungry Catepillar and Goodnight Moon than A Random Walk Down Wall Street. Reading is one of the best ways to learn, so hopefully I’m instilling in my children the same thirst for knowledge and love of reading as I have!

      How do you track the books you’ve read and plan to read? I’ve been using GoodReads lately – enjoying their recommendations, even though my to-read list is already a mile long!

  2. Great post! I don’t always use my time as wisely as I should. I know there are apps out there that let you track how much time you spend on different activities just so you can find out where you’re wasting your most precious resource. I might give one of those a try. Also, I think not enough people invest in their calm, and life is definitely too short to be miserable. Sometimes we just need a kick in the pants, or a blog post, to remind us about it!
    Gary @ Super Saving Tips recently posted Frugal or Cheapskate… Am I Just Too Damned Cheap?My Profile

    • And it’s always a balancing act. In my impetuous youth, I religiously tracked all my to do items in a paper Franklin Planner (am I dating myself yet?). It was an incredibly powerful system for managing your time, but it took dedication and discipline to really make it work. Over time, I just lost interest in it, and it was no longer worth the time to maintain. To this day, I still practice some of the same routines, e.g. daily, weekly, and monthly plannings to make sure I’m focused on the most important tasks, not just the most urgent.

      But whatever your system, find one that works for you, and it will do wonders. Time is our most precious resource. And so far, the only one we can’t get more of…

  3. I’m getting ready to invest in my skills. I am taking a big leap with a job in the next week that will stretch me. I have a feeling I am going to be using Youtube to really beef up some of my technical skills along the way and really push me out of my comfort zone. But I am hoping it leads me down a new path that will open up some more doors.
    Mustard Seed Money recently posted Clarity Money ReviewMy Profile

    • That’s great! Congratulations on the new responsibilities!

      I’m in the midst of a job search now and regularly use YouTube to learn about prospective employers’ products.

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