Time is finite. Each of us on this planet are here only temporarily. It’s important to use time wisely, yet it is easy to get caught up 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 tangible rewards.
However, money by its nature is salvageable. If you lose money, you may have the opportunity to make it back again. But time is different. Once an hour passes, you lose that hour forever. What many people often forget is that those accumulated 60 hours can become something far more valuable than $3,650. To truly value our time, we must convert it into something tangible in our minds.
Money Is Tangible but Time Is Not?
Our lives are a series of experiences. Everything we pursue is, at the end of the day, aimed at creating positive meaning out of these experiences. Everyone wants to have more enjoyable experiences than unenjoyable ones, and want the same for those they care about.
But what is the currency that you must trade to have these experiences?
That currency is time. Everything is just a means to this end. Without time to spend, everything else is meaningless. You can be a billionaire, but if you had only 1 hour to experience its value, those billions are suddenly not worth so much.
We are generally much more conscious of how we gain and lose money. For example, if you dropped $100 on the floor, I’m pretty sure you would immediately turn around and pick it up. On the other hand, if you wasted 100 minutes doing nothing, it might barely register.
Although we know that time is limited, we often think and act as if it is not. It’s obvious that treating your finances in this way, like having a $100 budget but spending as if it was $10,000, would soon get you bankrupt. Treating time like this is far more damaging.
“Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans”
– John Lennon
The reason that money seems so tangible is because dollar figures are attached to everything around us. It helps us to assign relative value between things. But it can be the same for time.
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 let’s assume you’re lucky and get around 70-80 years. How many of these years are the prime of your youth, or in good health? How many of these years are just short windows in time that you have with your loved ones? Instead of just considering time as a quantity spent in minutes or hours, how we spend it is more important. Your quality of life is basically defined by the quality of your time. And you should also look at it from more than one dimension. For example, ask yourself these questions.
- How many hours in a day do you spend being angry, anxious, dissatisfied, or unhappy?
- How much time do you spend actually connecting with a loved one as opposed to just being in the same room as them?
- How much time do you plan for improving yourself each day, or each week?
- How many hours of your life do you spend doing things you don’t enjoy for reasons that you don’t really understand?
- We sleep on average 6-8 hours a night, but how many hours are quality rest? How many, then.. are just wasted lying in bed?
If these are typical questions that you regularly take actions to address, then you’re well on your way to being in charge of the quality of your life. If you don’t, then it’s a great time to get started.
I’m not suggesting to quit your job, and spend everyday however you like. That is unreasonable and unrealistic. However, there are countless choices that you make everyday about how you think about things and what you decide to focus on. You’re constantly making these choices whether you’re aware of them or not. If you take charge by being consciously aware of these choices, you can gain countless hours, days, and even years of meaningful time spent. Everyone has the same 24 hours a day, but you can take control over more of this time than you think.
The first step is to make quality time a true value in your life, and not just a cliche.
Your quality of life is basically defined by the quality of your time.
What if you could take small actions during the day that vastly improved the quality of your sleep? Or boost your productivity and energy through the day by investing in a 20 minute nap. How about spending time connecting more deeply with friends and loved ones in the short time you have with them? These are only the tip of the iceberg in an encyclopaedia of ways to increase the quality of your time, which is one of our core values at Lifehack.
Some of the greatest regrets we have in life are those valuable moments lost because of how we chose to spend our time. Imagine the millions we would pay to be able to go back in time to respend those moments, or to make different choices. So make the choice to truly value your time. While you’re still alive and breathing, it’s never too late!
Featured photo credit: Picjumbo via picjumbo.com