“I just don’t have time!” Yes, we have all heard it and I am sure we have all said it. 

Time, time illusive time, we know we can’t create more of it and it’s how we use it that makes a difference, but how do we use it better?

I want to share with you what I learnt when I was a commercial hot air balloon pilot, about the value of a minute. And how you can improve your business and your life by just taking a few minutes out of your day.

This isn’t an article about berating you or about you complaining that you don’t have time and me pointing out that you still have time to be on social media, watching television, procrastinating or even reading this article. No this article is about helping you know how you can make small and significant improvements one minute at a time.

First let’s define how long a minute is. Sixty seconds right? More importantly it’s about understanding what you can achieve in a minute, how many thoughts can you have in a minute and realising what a difference this can make.

Often when I am speaking or running a training session I will ask the whole audience to close their eye for a minute, during this time I will guide them to think about things in the past, present and future. When they think a minute is up they can open their eyes and look at me to see how much time has passed. It is not uncommon for the first person to open their eyes less than 15 seconds into the exercise. More than half the room will have opened their eyes in under 30 seconds and almost 90 percent before the 45 second mark. After that I start getting concerned that those that still have their eyes closed have fallen asleep!

What’s my point? A minute is a lot longer than you realise especially when you are thinking and the results you can achieve as a result of these thoughts.

Here are three ways you can use those precious minutes:

1) Stop for a minute and break the chain

As a commercial hot air balloon pilot I spent hours studying past aviation related accidents. One of the key things we learnt was that an accident was very seldom a once off occurrence. It was most often as a result of a chain of events. As isolated event or occurrence the pilot could generally handle the situation but when they occurred in sequence well then there was going to be a problem. As a pilot you needed to recognise the potential for a chain of events to start and then break the chain. An example might be as you are going through your pre-take off checks, an excited passenger asks you a question. As tempting as it is to answer them and then continue where you left off, you know this could be the first link in the chain. So after answering the passenger and assuring them you will have plenty of time to answer all of their questions once you have done your checks you go back to the beginning and start again.

This can apply to a work situation for example, you wake up late, you rush to work and get a speeding fine, which puts you in a bad mood and makes you even more late, you are abrupt and rude on the phone and upset a client and so the cycle continues.

2) Stop for a minute and share

In aviation there is a clear distinction between what constitutes an accident and what is an incident. Basically an incident is something that could have been an accident but by some stroke of luck wasn’t. Pilots are always encouraged to submit incident reports. The reason being that when you share knowledge and experiences with other pilots they can learn and hopefully prevent something similar happening again.

Where possible it is better to be able to learn from other people’s mistakes rather than your own. When you or your team make mistakes, do you encourage people to share their experience in a way that others can learn and prevent it happening again? Or do people try and hide them because they know they will get into trouble or be embarrassed.

3)Stop for a minute and review

After every flight as a pilot I used to fill in various forms of paperwork as well as my logbook. Most of what we did was required by law, however it also gave me time to review my flight, what went well and what could I have done better. Often after a flight the crew and other pilots would talk about what had happened that morning and share experiences. It wasn’t a formal procedure like if there had been an incident or accident but more of talking about what we loved to do.

After every job, project or meeting take a minute and review what you did well and what you could have done better, you will be surprised at what you learn.

Do you have a minute? Yes, you do! We all do. Set time aside just a few minutes throughout your day. Use these minutes to break the chain, to share and to review. Encourage others to do the same and you will be amazed at how your business and your life will improve.

I would love to hear from you on how this information has helped you or if you have other tactics or strategies that help you get stuff done.