Time is finite. Each of us on this planet are here only temporarily. It is important to use time wisely yet it is easy to get caught up in spending your time doing things that don’t really matter. Most people act in ways that are only sustainable if we had an infinite amount of time, but we don’t.
Imagine you were able to save $10 per day, and let it build. After a year you will have accumulated $3,650. Equally, if you were able to save 10 minutes of a day to be reused later, by the end of the year, you would have saved 60 hours.
What would you choose?
Most would go with the money. It’s understandable. Humans like quick rewards.
But money by its nature is salvageable. If you lose money, you have the opportunity to get more. But time is different, once an hour passes, you lose an hour and it won’t return. What people don’t realize is that with time, you have the opportunity to spend it earning more money than the $3,650.
Money Is Tangible but Time Is Not?
What are you doing right now? You’re reading this article. This is your present. Your present is all that exists.
Events even in your immediate past are beginning to fade from memory. If I asked you what you had for lunch yesterday, you will probably answer it correctly but you’ll have to think. The future is a big question, your plans for tomorrow might change. Something might happen tomorrow and affect the rest of the day. A traffic jam might make you late for work, a friend might cancel a coffee meet-up. The future is uncertain, so we ultimately go with what we want right now.
There is a famous Chinese proverb that says we all “cross the river by feeling the stones”. This means that in life we make things up as they go along. We adapt, we change things, we roll with the punches. At the same time we make plans from our present perspective.
Some people spend their time on making more money for a more carefree life in future. So they spend most of their time on getting their jobs done even though they don’t find these works enjoyable. They choose to suck up all these tough times, hoping to exchange for enjoyable times in future. They may have saved plenty of money, but that still doesn’t guarantee an enjoyable future. What’s for sure is that they had some unsatisfying times.
Everyone has their own preference and there’s no right or wrong for their choice. Ask any 70 or 80 year old, what would they prefer, getting more money or more years of healthy living, they would choose the years. If money could buy time, they’d rather go broke. But money couldn’t buy more time, and all the money they had saved couldn’t gain back the lost time.
Although we know that time is limited, we act and often think as if it is not. A common, though counterproductive way of thinking, were we to treat our finances in the same way, treating $100 like $1000 and we would soon be bankrupted. Treating time like this is far more damaging. If you lose money, it’s still possible to get more. But if you lose time, you lose it forever.
John Lennon wrote this in his song,
“Life is what happens when we’re busy making plans”
We need then to make the best use of the time we have, and not spending it in unsatisfying ways. Time is the only asset to treasure.
The Only Way to Measure the Value of Time
A day will always be 24 hours. There will always be 60 minutes in an hour, and there will always be 60 seconds to a minute. Some lives are longer, some are shorter, but we can assume we get around 70-80 years. Looking at the value of time by counting the number of hours, days, and years is meaningless because time is pre-set for everyone; no more, no less. Instead of considering time to be spent in minutes or hours, how we spend it is more important. We should make the most of “quality time”.
I’m not suggesting you to quit your job, and spend everyday however you like. That is unreasonable and unrealistic. Everyone has 24 hours a day, but not everyone consciously chooses how they want to spend those hours and ensures all these hours are satisfying to them. Time should be measured in time we can control and enjoy over time we don’t enjoy. The time that you have control over to do what you love is “quality time”.
People who work 70% of their day on a job they don’t like with the mind that they will have greater time in the future have only 30% quality time. With 70% time of the day spent on doing something they don’t like. 70% of their time is unsatisfying.
To control the time you have an make it satisfying, begin to use time productively. By doing only things that matter to you, time will no longer be something “assigned” to you because you actively gain control over your time.
You can adapt this idea to suit you in your day to day life. For example, you can increase your productivity and energy through the day by taking a short nap, which increases your happiness and maximizes your quality time. Or you can increase your quality time by spending time connecting more deeply with friends and loved ones; the more you enjoy the time with them, the greater the quality time.
There are plenty of ideas on Lifehack which give you further information about making the most of your time. You can find out more about how to make the most of your time here: Time Merchant.
Remember, the more quality time you have, the better and more enjoyable you life becomes.
Featured photo credit: Picjumbo via picjumbo.com
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