If you’re 20 or so and you’re still in college, an investment of time is probably the most important investment of your life. Even if time is your only capital for now, it’s critical that you invest it as profitably as possible. Many students are running their own businesses, managing major projects, and defending dissertations at the Sorbonne and Cambridge, and writing homeworks and essays for others, and running sites such as PayToWritePaper and others. In this article, we explore with the methodicality of a savvy investor where, why, and how much time is worth investing.
1. Read as much as you can
How do you use your time effectively? Here’s a tip from investment genius Warren Buffett: Read 500 pages a day. According to his partner Munger, Buffett not only dispenses such advice but also spends up to 80% of his time reading himself. “We make good decisions very quickly because we spend a lot of time preparing, just quietly reading and thinking,” Munger once told a reporter. 500 pages a day is clearly not the way for wimps, but given the fortunes of Buffett and Munger, you can trust these guys on such matters.
2. Set goals and make plans to achieve them
This advice is repeated so often that we should be ashamed to give it. Let’s refrain from talking at length about how setting goals is right and cool. We’ll just leave here the results of a Success magazine study cited by Kate Ferration in her book Never Eat Alone and Other Rules of Networking. The study in 1953 asked Yale students 3 questions: Do you set goals for yourself? Do you write down your goals? Do you make plans to achieve your goals? Twenty years later, the researchers surveyed the same people. They found that the 13 percent of students who simply wrote down their goals got, on average, twice as many goals as those who didn’t bother to write them down. But there were another 3 percent who didn’t just write down their goals but worked out a plan to achieve them. The graduates of this top 3 percent earned, on average, ten times more than the rest of their classmates.
3. Participate in competitions and Olympiads
Participating in competitions, such as case championships, is one of the most versatile ways to invest your time. Here you have development, networking, and a huge field of opportunities. And you can convert these investments into real career dividends in a very short period of time. The main thing to remember is that only a methodical and meticulous approach will make the investment of time in cases really highly liquid. Set aside time each week to strengthen your competitive skills, keep an eye out for news about important championships and case study events, and plan to participate in them ahead of time.
4. Take every opportunity to travel
In a few years, you’ll get caught up in work, a succession of projects, and family life. But even if none of that happens, remember that while you’re young it’s easier and cheaper to travel. And often it’s even free. The key is to take a practical approach. Instead of dreaming that one day you’ll climb Machu Picchu or go around the world, do not spare time to search for exchange programs, scholarships and foreign internships. Surely there are similar programs at your university, too.
5. Start working as early as possible
If you start looking for something successful businessmen have in common, you will quickly realize that all of them have one main rule: always work hard. While most of your peers are spending time on social media and have no idea what they’ll be doing once they get their degree, use the time to do internships. According to Gladwell’s famous formula, it takes 10,000 hours of professional experience to become really cool at something. And the sooner you start, the sooner you’ll feel the career advantages over those who were beating the crap and living merrily from session to session.
6. Learn to diversify your income and look for opportunities to do so
Every career counselor today keeps telling you that in order to be really successful and independent, you need to acquire an additional source of income every year or two. Now you may have no idea where to find this source, but if you spend a few hours a week looking for and obtaining new ones, you can soon reap the benefits of your efforts. Plus, it’s possible that your new part-time job will make you realize: this is what you really want to do.
7. Write down what you’ve learned every day
In a world where the amount of information doubles every year, and skills lose their relevance within 2-5 years, stopping to develop for even one day is an unacceptable luxury. If you really want to succeed, become a control freak about your own development. Make it a habit every day to write down 10 things you learned today. It will be hard at first, but keeping such a list every day will allow you to relax and make you look for new opportunities for development every day.
8. Enjoy life in the here and now
Many of us live with dreams of becoming happy once we reach our goal. Who hasn’t had a thought like this: “I’m going to study and work hard and finally become a Big Four consultant. And then…”? Harvard researcher Sean Achor has studied happiness for years and concluded that it works exactly the other way around. It’s not success that determines happiness, it’s happiness that brings success. Reach goals and strive for more, be persistent and don’t give yourself a pass, but by no means put “being happy” at the end of your list of great things to do.