Time is money, that’s one of the oldest English sentences I learned. I guess I wasn’t even in school, and I remember I knew the meaning of this. And keep in mind that English is not my primary language, I was born and raised Romanian. Years after, I still surprise myself thinking in these terms. There is a common understanding that your time is one of your most precious assets, so you should take good care of it. Interestingly enough, this happens mostly in Western cultures,Â Eastern cultures seems to have a more relaxed attitude towards time.
But even more interesting is the fact that, despite the ubiquity of this saying, almost everybody tries to avoid its message. Don’t get me wrong, people are still putting a high value on time, making it a very precious asset, but almost nobody really treats time the same way they treats their money. People are eager for free time, they are making a lot of effort to gain some extra time, but once they get it, they are wasting it instantly, in a way they will never do to their money. In this post I’ll try to share a few simple and easy ideas for really keeping your time safely in your wallet, the same way you do with your finances.
Keep it clean
If you are a person moderately rich, I bet your wallet looks like a pharmacy. It’s clean and ordered and you know in less than a second where to find the ten dollar bill, as well as the Mastercard you use for shopping only. And even if you are not a moderately rich person, but you have a positive attitude towards money, I bet your wallet is clean and ordered. I know mine is. And I know I have quite a positive attitude towards money.
So why don’t we do the same with our time? For me, that translates in a very clean and ordered working routine. If time will be sliced into ten, twenty and fifty dollars bills, I would know instantly how much do I have left, and where I find the needed bill every time I need it. Slicing my time in ordered pieces, the same way I did with bills and cards in my wallet helped me a lot. And is such a simple yet powerful analogy: keep your time as your wallet.
Spend only what you have
That, my friend, is very healthy advice. Even if you will apply this only to money, it will make you happy at some point in your life. I tried to keep myself away from credit, partly because I know I have a rather risky attitude (by the way, after 10 years of entrepreneurship and successful business, I still like to embrace risks), and partly because I just didn’t feel well about it. That saved me several times in difficult situations, most of them business related, like a tight cashflow or a bad market. If I would have credit in those situations, my life would have been much more difficult.
But when you translate this habit into time management, well, you will discover some interesting stuff. Spending only the time you have means to do what you have to, when you have to. Working late hours, for instance, will be a violation of this percept. Because you will be spending the time you simply don’t have for work. Even if it seems it’s for work, it isn’t, it’s your personal time. And by using this time for working, you are making a credit. You take by credit from your free time and pour it into work time. Yeap, you know that already: sooner or later you’ll have to pay that credit. With interest, of course.
Buy only what you can afford
Although this seems a repetition of the previous habit, there is a subtle difference. In this case, you do spend only what you have. But if you are spending only what you have to buy a thing that you can’t afford, well, that’s bad. If you give all your paycheck for a fantastic trip to Hawaii, when you get back you’ll be in a rather tricky situation: you had the time of your life, but your life needs some fast cash, or you’ll be in trouble with those bills… It’s the fact that you should correctly evaluate your financial capacity and keep your spending under control.
Now translate this for time management: whenever you have a chunk of free time, try to slip in only what you can do in that chunk of time, not more. This comes to correctly evaluate your working and time consumption capacity and keep your procrastination under control. You might want to stretch that piece of time, but you really can’t. You can’t stretch a ten dollar bill into a twenty dollar bill, so you won’t be able to make an hour from twenty minutes. Don’t try to bargain for it, it won’t work.
Save some time
Every intelligent people know the importance of the savings. Making deposits, investing in trust funds, buying stocks from profitable businesses, all of these are savings activities. By doing this constantly you ensure that your money won’t get devalued and that you can also make some profit out of it. It’s a clever move. And I bet you put a lot of effort into finding the best way to save your money. And also you do enjoy spending your savings, right?
But I’m not so sure if you’re doing the same way with your time. Have you ever thought to save some time for yourself? Have you ever thought to manage your activities in a flexible schedule, so you can quickly step out from the routine and take some time off? Saving the time for yourself is highly rewarding. If you have money deposits or other type of investments that are doing well, why not starting to invest in some time for yourself? Time for personal development, or for leisure, or for family, or just for enjoying life.
Once spent, stop thinking about it
Whenever I buy something, I never look back. That’s another healthy habit I have about money. I don’t have regrets or second thoughts. If it proves expensive after I bought it, well, so be it, I’ll bargain better next time. But once spent, I never think about that money again. I only focus on what’s left in my wallet, or on what I can attract by using my skills. If you think at money as raw energy, you’ll understand that once declined into matter, that energy is gone for good. So once transformed in goods, that money cease to exist, is literally dead. And is so much healthier to focus on life than on death, don’t you think?
Well, try to do the same with your time. Never look back, never have second thoughts, never regret something, Whatever that was in the past, those times are gone. Of course, you can enjoy memories, you’ll always have that, but if you constantly live surrounded by memories, you’ll lost connection with this present time. You’ll not actually live this life, you’ll not allow to the time to manifest into your existence. So, leave the past in the past, and don’t fantasize too much about the future, this present time you are living in it right now is actually all you have.
Use the best tools
You’re searching the best banks for your money. You’re buying the best consultancy services and apply for the best credit card deals. Great! So you’re actually using the best tools for your money. Because it is so important to you, right? You just can’t afford to have nothing but the best.
But do you do the same with your time? Do you even have tools for managing your time? In the last 10 years I used a variety of tools for time management, starting form paper based systems, to complex digital setups. But I gradually invested in better and better time management systems and processes. I learned the Getting Things Done methodology, which is a great process for time management (and even more), and I invested in state of the art tools for implementing GTD. I try to use nothing but the best to organize my time. Yeap, because it is so important to me, and I can’t afford nothing but the best for it.