Time Is Our Most Valuable Asset: How Do You Use It?
All of us, regardless if we are rich or poor, young or old, have 24 hours at our disposal each day. It is the one resource that every human being has been given equally. Whether you are the president of a country, a customer service representative in a bank, a CEO of a company, a farmer, a student, or a stay-at-home Mom, you must make daily choices on how to spend the 24 hours afforded you.
I used to take time for granted and never fully grasped how precious it really is. I know that a lot of people are also guilty of this mistake. Think about it: when a second, minute, hour, or day has passed, it is gone forever. There is nothing you can do to retrieve it. The time you spent reading this sentence is forever lost. Almost all material things, including money, can be regained. Even love can be found again. But time is fleeting, scarce, and can never be recouped.
So how should we view and manage the one commodity that is the most precious in our lives? For me, the answer lies in planning and budgeting our time. I actually made the effort to list all my daily activities and the time each of them consumed and was surprised by how little free time was left over in the day. It made me realize how much time I wasted on frivolous activities that meant nothing to me. I began to see how the time I spent on these activities had an opportunity cost: time I could have used more wisely on activities that were more important, enjoyable and beneficial to me. If the average person takes the time to add up all the hours wasted in the past on activities that add no real value to their life, they will be shocked.
Consequently, I made a list of the most important activities and tasks that I wanted to complete each day, as well as the amount of time that each normally took. These are activities that help me become the person I want to be and lead the life that I want to live. I became aware that, up to that point, a big portion of my time was not planned nor budgeted. I was wasting time that I could not afford to waste on meaningless activities. And since time is a fixed commodity for all of us, it meant that I often felt rushed, stressed, and unfulfilled at the end of the day because I was not accomplishing some of the goals and tasks that I considered important.
Here is how I decided to audit, plan and budget the 24 hours given to me each day: I first listed all the daily activities that I deemed ‘essential’ and how long each one took me to complete.
Sleep – 8 hours
Work – 8 hours
Daily meals, including prep – 1.5 hours
Personal hygiene (shower, brushing my teeth, shaving) – 30 minutes
Gym – 1 hour
Meditation – 15 minutes
Yoga – 15 minutes
Total – 19.5 hours
This meant that I had 4.5 hours left in the day to do everything else. How would I choose to allocate and spend this precious time? How much of it would be used to watch TV, read a book, spend time with family, listen to music, or pursue my photography hobby? I also had to keep in mind that there were other non-daily activities to complete such as grocery shopping, cleaning the house, and tending to my garden. Furthermore, I still had not accounted for the amount of time needed to see my friends, travel, call my mother who lives overseas, go to the beach, play racquetball, etc. I clearly had some choices to make if I wanted to make the best use of the 24 hours given to me each day.
Each of us has our own unique responsibilities, lifestyle, and interests. That means that we choose to spend our precious time differently. However, how many of us actually audit and budget our time so that we use it wisely and in a way that we won’t later regret? Rather than let time slip away by spending it on frivolous activities, how do we choose to use this valuable commodity in a way that helps us achieve our goals and give our lives meaning?
That is why it is extremely important for all of us to reflect on how we currently allocate and spend our time. It is similar to reflecting on and auditing how we spend our money. Do we succumb to instant gratification foolishly? Are we stressed because we are spending our precious resources in an unconscious manner that we later regret? There is nobody in this world who is too busy, only those who do not prioritize. That does not mean that we cannot lay on the couch or on the beach and relax, watch a movie, or simply do nothing at all. It merely means that those choices were made with a sense of awareness.
I now am more conscious and aware of how I spend my time and it has brought more meaning, structure and happiness to my life. There is a routine that I developed and adhere to almost every day so that there is no guesswork involved when it comes to how to spend my time. I have learned to say no to activities that I once succumbed to. And I am still constantly, learning, improving and trying to spend my time more wisely. As Harvey Mackay said, “Time is free, but it is priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it you can never get it back.”
How do you spend your time?