The Leaders Playbook: Time as the REAL measurement of cost

It is always important to keep cost control in the front of your mind when undertaking any business or personal effort. In my business career these thoughts were often centered on capital allocation or other resources. They often didn’t properly consider the concept of time spent on something.

This year I’m much more focused on ensuring I elevate the cost of time spent and the value returned on my time of my teams’ time in my cost cross check.  I’m asking much deeper questions of myself and my teammates on the value of time spent on an effort compared to the return on that time… after all… It is the most valuable resource we have and we cannot get it back after it is spent.

A few tips:

Be very thoughtful about where you spend your time.

Learn how to politely say “thank you” but “no”.

Be mindful of sunk cost bias and don’t get taken in by it. (

Lastly, develop a way to keep your time spent closely aligned with the essential elements of your life. Continually cross check time versus your values and virtues and debrief this on a regular basis. I do this daily, weekly, and monthly.

Trust me. Don’t mess this up and lead well.

The Author is currently serving as an active-duty military officer. Any comments or recommendations on this post or on this site are my personal views. They do not represent the position of any branch of the United States Government, the Department of Defense, or the Department of the Air Force.