There’s been a robbery, and you’re involved!

Scene of the Crime

For those two hours last night that you watched television, someone else stole that time and applied it to writing a little bit more on their new, completely obvious, “I had that idea already” book, and they’re going to sell it for $200,000 up front.

When you surfed RSS feeds an extra hour looking for the perfect productivity tip, someone snuck in and ran off with that time. They used it to read a chapter on Java scripting, and they took the practice tests in the back. Looks like they’re ready to turn that hour into a new career and a raise.

I’m sorry to report this: the time bank has been compromised.

In fact, the more I investigate, our protective measures are downright porous. We develop systems, and those pesky thieves come in and steal the time away anyhow. The nerve of them. That’s our time. We had plans for it. I’ve taken an informal audit of a lot of blogs, and I’ve found that time we’re regretting not having. Just a few blogs over from Lifehack.org, there’s a girl really lamenting having watched the entire Lord of the Rings Trilogy again, BACK TO BACK, because she realized shortly thereafter that she was still $500 in the hole for the rent this month, and it’s already July 3rd.

Time is Finite

I really don’t have to continue illustrating this point, do I? One of the greatest hacks you can pull off in your own life is to get real about the amount of time you take for leisure and frivolous consumption, and measure it against all the other things you intend to get done with your life. If you’re looking for that extra few hours to spend with the kids, I bet you I know right where it is. If you’re trying to get that novel written, I’ve got pages 45-100 right here.

You can save food. You can save money. You can save all kinds of things. But not time. Time is a running debit, forever in withdraw mode, and with no recharge method. The best you can do, and this is the goal of some of the hacks we present here, is to channel your energy into spending the currency of time more wisely. Again: there is no saving, only wise spending.

And yet, the paradox is there: you can maximize time. You can multiply time. You can parallel time. Because time is already in motion, that’s the only way to get more out of time than what you’re already alotted.

5 Tips

Just in case this isn’t practical enough for you Life hackers, here are five better ways to spend time:

  • Pay the $5 for someone else to delivery your groceries, and order them online (where available).
  • Buy cheap digital timers and stick them next to your TV and next to your main internet station. Set a budget, and stick to it.
  • Teach others to do parts of what you do and share. Force multiplication doesn’t make you less important. It doesn’t give away your job. It shows leaders at your organization that you’ve got a skill they need to better scale the enterprise.
  • Get up 1/2 hour early every day. Sure, get your 8 hours if you can, but if you’re going past that boundary, learn. It takes a while, but you can turn that 1/2 hour into plenty more gold.
  • Write this down: I can always earn more money. Time is finite. Post that liberally around the home, office, car, bathroom.

There are other hacks that I’m evolving that continue along the practical vein. I’ve started to muse about it in my post about time quilting, but the concept’s not fully evolved. Do feel free to add your thoughts. They’ll help me spend less time baking my own.

–Chris Brogan sleeps four hours a night and writes voraciously. He produces two podcasts (soon to be three), and will one day implode. He recently saw Superman (2 hours, 20 minutes) and wishes he could get his time back. Chris writes at [chrisbrogan.com] and does content stuff at Grasshopper Factory.

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