“Time is the most valuable thing a man can spend.” ~Theophrastus
86,400 seconds are yours each day. Are your values and priorities reflected in how you spend your time or has your choice been forfeited based on a decision you did or didn’t make in the past?
Time comes with its own pace. You don’t manage time; time takes care of itself. However, you are given the opportunity to manage yourself within time. You can allocate your time being reactive to life circumstances or pro-active with your life opportunities, the choice is yours.
Time is indifferent to how you relate to it or use it. It’s not personal. It can pass you by or be on your side; the choice again is yours.
Time will be spent whether you intentionally spend it or not. Your 86,400 seconds will run out at the end of each day and renew itself with the arrival of the next day. The moments in between are gifted to you to make the most of them or let them expire.
I prioritize thinking about what the return on investment of my 86,400 seconds of time each day will be. I reflect on whether I will feel that I spent or invested my time wisely or will feel regret at what is gone when the day is complete. This practice makes for better spending habits.
Just as a spending plan is prudent for money matters, so it is with your time. One important difference is that you can typically earn more money. You cannot earn more time. When your time is spent or runs out, that allocation is gone for good and you have only the next one to look forward to spending.
Interesting how our educational system places such a high priority on reading, writing and arithmetic skills, which can always be learned later in life. I don’t recall any courses on time or managing myself within time to get the most out of it since it runs out daily. Small wonder that so many people are challenged with what is commonly referred to as “time management” problems.
Moving out of the problem and into the solution, let me introduce you to three lessons about time – understanding its movement, knowing how long things take and planning for your use of it.
You need to understand that time, as a non-tangible, must be made tangible in order for you to recognize its movement and passing. This was easier when the world tracked time in analog as you can more easily see the passing of time in that format. Consider getting yourself an analog clock or watch or app for your phone to help you make time more tangible. You can familiarize yourself with the passing of time by allotting fifteen minutes for this exercise and stay present to the passing of those fifteen minutes and what fifteen minutes passing feels like.
You need to become aware of how long things take and can do so by timing yourself. You might be surprised to learn just how little time some thing take (like cleaning up the kitchen after you eat a meal) and how much more time others take than you thought or had estimated (like doing your laundry completely – wash, dry and put it all away). By having a personal and accurate accounting for your life management requirements, you will be better prepared for the third lesson - planning for the use of your time. After all, how can you budget for something you can’t quantify?
You can only plan for the use of your allotted time by knowing where you are headed and what you look to achieve by spending your time. This requires at least one goal or direction to point yourself toward, to ensure you spending ample time on your goal in order to reach it.
Let me give you an example. Anticipating receiving your 86,400 seconds for today, you made time last night and created a spending plan for your seconds. The focus of your plan was to improve your overall health and well being by adopting a new self-care routine. You considered physical activity, food choices and consumption, adequate hydration and sleep needs when making your plan last night. You have a rough idea of how long you need to sleep to feel fully rested when you wake. You know that you body needs at least eight 8-oz. glasses of healthy water each day and more if you sweat a lot. You’ve learned that eating every two to three hours is optimal for you and that lighter foods in the summer months are best. You know how far away the food market is and how long it typically takes to drive there. You know how long you need for shopping once in the market and then the drive home. Food preparation varies according to what you prepare and again, you have a rough idea of how long various meals take to prepare. The time to eat each meal is also known.
You might think this is an awful lot of details to contend with or maybe still not enough. I left out a number of steps and details, an important one being transition time. You may not even know what I am talking about when I use that term. Life is not “bumper to bumper”. You need a few minutes to make a transition from one activity or task to another. All of these transitions add up throughout the day and need to be part of your spending plan.
You will learn more about these important skills in upcoming blog posts.