Time is the most valuable asset in the world. Nothing is more valuable. Wealth, power and status fall well short of the value of time.
How valuable is time? To understand its value, let’s look at the value of money. Let’s pretend you are the richest person in the world and you can buy anything you want. Expensive cars, houses, boats, airplanes – anything you want to buy – are all well within your financial resources. Do you think $500 trillion would provide the purchasing power we are describing?
Now let’s look at the value of time. Since we have established ourselves as having more purchasing power than most countries, let’s look at the value of time and compare it to our wealth. Let’s say you or I wanted to buy an extra 30 minutes each day to help us get everything done. So, how much do you think an extra thirty minutes a day would cost? Could you or I buy 30 minutes with $500 trillion and make our day 24 hours and 30 minutes long? Of course not, you nor I or anyone else can buy 30 minutes of time. Even if we had all the money in the world, we still couldn’t buy one extra second. Time is so valuable we can’t put a price tag on its significance.
Life is short. At birth, people in the United States have an average life span of just over 78 years.1 If we are lucky, we will die of old age, happy with where we’ve gone in life and how we’ve spent our time getting there. Unfortunately, many of us don’t.
As we all know from experience, life can be going great today, and it can be gone tomorrow. Forgive me for being so morbid, but the time we have on this earth is a precious commodity much more valuable than all the money in the world. We have only one shot at life, a short span of time measured in days and years, to do the things that give our lives meaning and bring us happiness. Therefore, we must make sure we spend the limited amount of time we’ve been given on this earth focusing on the priorities that bring purpose to our lives.
Although it is impossible for us to buy an extra second of time, we spend our time without even thinking about it. We spend 24 hours every day of the total time allotted to us. While we spend some of this time productively meeting our life’s goals, we waste much of it. Sadly, once a second is spent, it’s gone forever. It can never be recaptured. There is no getting it back. No doing things differently. Once a second, minute or hour is spent, it’s gone forever.
Worse yet, short of dying, there is nothing we can do to stop our time from being used. We all get the same amount of time every day to make the most of our lives and to mold them into the lives we want. How we spend this time ultimately determines how successful and happy we are. Therefore, we must spend our time wisely and make the most of the time we have.
How are you spending your time? Are you happy with how you’ve spent your allotted time so far? Are you spending your time in a way that is taking you where you want your life to go? If not, why not?
If you could look into the future and know you only had ten years to live, would you change the way you live your life? What if you knew you had only five good years to accomplish your goals? Would you change the way you do things? What about three years? Would you change anything? If you answered no, then congratulations! You obviously have your priorities straight, and you are living your life in a way that gives you satisfaction. However, I suspect most of us want more from our lives.
Just like money, how we spend our time is a good indicator of what’s really important to us. Are you spending your time on the important things in your life? Are you spending your time focusing on the people and activities that mean the most to you? Are you spending your time accomplishing all of your goals and living your life as you dreamed it would be?
Life is short. Each of us is ultimately responsible for living every second of our lives in a way that fulfills our dreams and makes us happy. If we are not living the lives we have always dreamed about, it’s our own fault and we should do something today to get started doing what we know we should be doing.
Time is truly your most valuable asset in the world. Don’t waste it. Keep your time focused on the important people, activities and things in your life that meet your life goals. Use your remaining time concentrating on the things that give your life meaning and bring you happiness.
Just like our financial resources are budgeted in our Financial Management Plan, our time resources must be allocated in our Time Management Plan. We must look at how we spend our time just as we spend our money. Whereas our Financial Management Plan places limits on how we spend our money as it relates to supporting our priorities, a Time Management Plan assists us in determining how we spend our limited time to support the important things in our lives. Establishing our Time Management Plan is crucial to our success and happiness.
How do we establish a Time Means Plan? We must follow a two-step process. First, we must identify where we are spending our time. Second, once we have a handle on where our time is being spent, we must capture any time we can free up and reallocate it to our priorities.
The best way to determine how we spend our time is through a time study, a proven technique employed throughout the world to track how people use time and where time can be saved. Unfortunately, like we talked about with the Financial Management Plan, space and format does not give me the ability to go into the step-by-step process about how to complete a time study or a Time Management Plan in this blog. Please refer to my book Live The Simple Life You Dream About to get a comprehensive overview of how to complete a time study and the worksheets you will need to refocus your time to your priorities.
The overriding goal of our time study is to recognize and understand how we spend our limited time and eliminate activities that prevent us from focusing on our priorities. Focusing our money and time on our priorities – people, activities and things – that give our lives meaning is crucial to our well-being and brings happiness to our lives beyond measure.
Our Time Management Plan consists of three basic premises: First, we want to spend as little time as necessary on activities that support our Financial Management Plan. Think about it; who wants to spend all their time working to support their spending habits? We must find balance in our lives by maintaining realistic financial goals that keep our priorities in line with the work time required to achieve them.
Second, we want to spend the maximum amount of time on activities that keep us close to our priorities and make us happy. Remember our priority lists? This is where we want to spend as much time as we can. Here is where we find happiness in our lives. Spending time here is where we get our biggest bang for our time.
Finally, we want to eliminate time spent on things that do not support our priorities, our finances or our happiness. These are the big timewasters of life and are specifically addressed in the final step of our Simple Life Plan process, decluttering our lives. We will spend more time on this step in later blogs. During this step, we will reduce or eliminate everything we can. The time we save here will free up time for more important priorities.
Time is truly your most valuable asset. Spend it wisely. You already possess all the time you have been promised. You must keep your time concentrated on the important people, activities and things in your life that meet your life’s priorities. To do this, you must use the strategy of your Time Management Plan to keep you focused on the things that give your life meaning and purpose.
Next week I will share a few time management tricks that have helped me over the years. Until next week…
This blog series is based on the book Live The Simple Life You Dream About. Get your copy here.
Are you happy? Are you living the life you dream about? If you are like most people, you’re probably not overly excited about anything and don’t know why. You’re stuck in a rut drifting aimlessly through life.
How can this happen? It’s simple. We live life haphazardly. We never take the time or make the effort to define what happiness means to us. We try this or that hoping one day we land on the thing or things that will bring us happiness. However, true happiness is almost impossible to find through trial and error.
True happiness comes through a thoughtful evaluation of our lives and by incorporating the things that give us happiness and meaning into the way we live our lives. Clearly identifying our priorities and freeing up resources to be used on the things that are most important to us is essential to finding real happiness.
Live The Simple Life You Dream About leads us through the process of simplifying our lives. By refocusing our priorities and our limited resources on the people, activities, and things that give our lives meaning, we can find the happiness we are seeking. Get your copy here.
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May your life be filled with purpose, the tranquility of simple living, and the happiness and success you absolutely deserve!
1CIA.gov, “The World Factbook,” CIA.gov, https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2102rank.html (accessed October 21, 2013).