By the time you read this, Election Day 2010 will be over and, for the most part, we will know who won each election in this very pivotal year. Regardless of your political leanings, as a coach I am very interested to know how you voted. I’m not concerned with WHO you voted for…but for WHAT.

Every minute of every day, you cast a ballot. This ballot represents one of the most important decisions you will make. Just as in any legitimate election, you only get one vote, and that single vote goes a long way in determining the outcome of your life.

You cast this ballot when you decide how to invest your time.

Time is the great equalizer. We all get just 24 hours every day. The most effective person who ever lived began their day with the same 24 hours that the least effective person was given. So the next time you catch yourself saying you “don’t have enough time,” remember that you have all the time in the world.

Don’t get me wrong, I know that some people seem to get more done in a 24 hour period than others. The truth is that we could all become more effective. The better we are at utilizing the time we have, the bigger the opportunity for something good to happen.

Here are two ways that you can become more effective in your use of time:

1) “Invest Time” rather than “Spend Time”
When you “spend time,” it’s gone and you’re left with nothing to show for it. “Investing time” implies that there should be a return on your investment. Just as you only have one vote to cast on Election Day, you can only invest your time on one thing at any given moment. While some people claim they can multi-task, the truth is that what they are doing is, at best, rapid refocus. Cast the ballot for each moment intentionally, and you’ll see a greater return on the time you invest.

2) Focus on the Things which are Not Urgent but Important.
Too much time is “spent” dealing with urgent matters. That’s good when it is necessary, but it’s better not to live your life going from one crisis to the next. If you do, you’ll miss out on the Important things which may not be crying for your attention, but will lead to a more fulfilling life. The Urgent things can’t be completely eliminated, but they can usually be reduced by appropriate planning and execution.

Now, take a moment to reflect on yesterday. Write down, hour-by-hour, what you did with your time. Did you spend your time, or did you invest it? Were you primarily focused on urgent matters, or did you make time for the important ones? What can you do differently to ensure your next 24 hours are most effective?

These are just two suggestions among many which could help prevent overload and burnout. How you cast this ballot is entirely up to you.

What did you vote for with your time today? How will you plan for a better result tomorrow?