Just like “spending” money, many of us talk about “spending” time. But do we really think about the value of time – do we really treat time as being as important as money?
Maybe we do. Many people squander their money and time is no different. It is just as easy to waste our time as it is to waste our money.
A very powerful, life transforming idea is to become more mindful of how we “spend” our time by teaching ourselves the value of time.
Golden Coins of Time
Think of the hours you live every day as 24 large golden coins you get to spend.
- 8 of them go to your sleeping time
- 8 of them go to your working time
- 1 or 2 of them goes to your commute or for getting ready for work
How are you spending the other 6-7? Are you investing this time wisely?
Break Out of The Rut
We fall into the habit of spending our time coins in a certain way. Perhaps we are tired so we grab a bite to eat and then settle in for the evening in front of the TV. Next thing we know, it is bed time.
TV is full of lots of filler. One Wall Street Journal study of a 3 hour National Football League broadcast found that viewers saw only 11 minutes of game play during the 3 HOUR broadcast. Here is the breakdown when they tracked what viewers saw:
- Commercials 63 minutes
- Shots of players standing around 67 minutes
- 35 minutes showing coach, crowd, cheerleaders
- Replays 15 minutes
- Game action 11 minutes
Is it really worth 3 hours of your time to watch 11 minutes of other people playing a sport?
Not that there is anything wrong with TV. I enjoy a good movie or TV series myself. But, when I do spend time on TV, it is a conscious decision. I still make time for the other things I want to do in life.
When I watch TV, I tend to watch it on Netflix with no set time I have to be there to watch, no commercials and the ability to pause the show at any time and come back to it later.
A 1 hour TV show on Netflix is only about 40 minutes without commercials – a savings of 33% on my time viewing.
Be conscious of how much time you are spending on TV and make sure you still set aside time for things that are more important.
Your First Free Hour
If there is something you really want to do, such as learn a musical instrument, or take up a new hobby, make that the way you spend your first free hour of the evening or weekend. Invest your time here FIRST.
We usually have more energy at the beginning of our free time, so this is a good time to try something new.
Let TV, gaming and other less important recreational choices take up the last hour or so of your free time when your energy is less.
Don’t Let Others Spend Your Time
“Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.”
– Carl Sandburg
Make sure that you and you alone make the choices on how to spend your time. Family and friends can try to impose their time choices on us so it is important that we remain strong and able to say “no” to unwelcome demands on our time.
I once worked with a young woman who was driving her brother to work because he had his license suspended for drunk driving. I started to ask her questions like “How long does it take you to drive him to work and pick him up?” and “How long would it take him to get to work by bus?”
Turns out she was spending 1.5 hours a day (45 minutes each way) driving him to and from work. He could catch the bus instead which would take him about 3 hours of travel time (1.5 hours each way) daily.
So, to save her brother 1.5 hours per day, she was giving up 1.5 hours of her day, essentially protecting him from the consequences of his own stupid actions.
She was valuing her brother’s time more than her own.
Instead, she should have let him find his own way to work, saving herself 1.5 hours per day. The experience of having to take the bus to work might have made her brother value his license more when he got it back.
Remember that when someone throws you the ball, you don’t have to catch it. Don’t let others guilt you into investing your time in ways that don’t help you to reach your goals. See my free online course on Reducing Distractions for more ways to keep others from spending your time.
Spend Your Time As If It Might Be Suddenly Cut Short
People with incurable diseases learn something important about time that we miss. They learn that time is precious and not to be wasted.
How would you spend your time differently if you knew you only had 1 year to live?
Remember, not everyone gets even that chance. Accidents and sudden deaths such as heart attacks can take you suddenly without a chance to change how you spend your time.
If you died tomorrow, can you honestly say that you spent your time the way you wanted in the last month or last year?
Restructure Your Time Investment Portfolio
Assume you had no existing commitments, were caught up on sleep and were going to build a new life in a new country where no one had demands on your time.
How would you spend your time differently?
Use this approach to restructure your time investments now. Forget you old ways of spending time and redesign from scratch.
What Is Truly Important In Your Life?
No one on their death bed wished they spent more time at the office.
I love my work and work full time, but for me, time for truly amazing experiences and time with family and friends far outweighs spending more time and working more hours to accumulate more “stuff.” So I don’t work the 60-80 hours a week or more that some people fall into. Instead I focus on working more efficiently so I have time for what is truly important.
Take your vacations, arrange coffee with friends, set up cards or board game nights with family and friends. These are the kinds of memories you will treasure later.
Remember that life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but the moments that take our breath away.
So make sure you build more moments in your life that take your breath away.
Be Mindful of the Value of Time
When you value your time, you value yourself – something many of us are not good at.
As with most habit changes, the important thing is to be mindful. Before you spend your next chunk of time, ask yourself these questions:
- Is this the best possible use of my free time?
- Will I regret it if I don’t make time for something else important to me?
Learn the value of time and learn to value yourself. You are unique – there is only one of you in the world so invest your time in this world to give yourself an amazing life.
You are worth it!
If you need help learning to invest your time more wisely, just contact me.