Time – are you spending or investing?
Welcome back and thank you for joining us on the quest for living rich.
Today we are going to discuss the difference between spending your time versus investing it.
We all agree that time is more valuable than money. Time is one of the most valuable commodities we have. Instead of just spending it, or using it up, why not look for ways to invest it into our future success?
We all have the same 24 hours in a day, and how we spend it determines how we do in life. If you want to play video games and watch TV and do all those other non-value added things, that’s fine. But you’re going to get beat out in most aspects of life by the person who is doing the little things
that are going to make the difference between being mastering his or her life or the person who lets life master you.
Let’s consider your own life. Everyone has the same number of hours in each day, so it’s what you decide to do with that time that directly impacts your success in life.
Well, you probably already know that putting in extra hours at work will have a better payout for your career than scrolling Facebook all day long. But, let’s say you really want a promotion. Sure, you could keep
doing the same-o same-o at your job. You could even work a little harder or put in some hours.
But wouldn’t it be a better investment of your time to brainstorm new ideas that could help the business improve or grow and bring them to your boss? Or figure out what skills are really needed in your position or on your team and make a plan to learn them?
Or, let’s say you are looking for a new job. Many people spend their time sending out resume after resume, hoping to get lucky. But a better strategy would be researching amazing companies that you would like to work for, identifying the few opportunities that sound like a perfect fit for you, then crafting a stellar application that will get you noticed above anyone else. See the difference? It’ll take the same amount of time as blasting out thousands of applications, but it’s bound to have better results.
So we agree time is more valuable than money – but do we, really?
Why then do we turn around and spend hours watching bad TV we’re not even that interested in. Or 45 minutes on the phone with customer service
fighting a $5 charge. Or years in a relationship or friendship we stopped feeling fulfilled by long ago.
I’m convinced it’s not for a lack of good intent that we often end up treating time as our most disposable asset. After all we think that there’s plenty more where that came from, right? Well, not exactly. We all have an expiration date.
But I think we simply get too busy to think about it, or don’t think we have the resources to make more time in our lives. We do have the resources, though. All it takes is a fresh look at how we really spend our days, hours, and moments.
I’ve been thinking about time as a tangible asset not unlike money in many ways, and about ways to invest our time to yield higher returns— better memories, more hours well spent, even minutes that nourish us instead of fly by. After much research, experience, and reflection, below are what I found to be the seven best investments you can make with your time. Think of these as blue-chip time investments that can’t go wrong—and that will yield high dividends for a more fulfilled life.
1. Invest in “Life-Extending” Time – moving out that expiration date
Investing time in caring for your health is an obvious one that will certainly yield you more time, literally—in days, months, if not years tacked on to your life . Yet we often take our health for granted until we experience a wake-up call - health threat of our own or the unexpected death of someone else.
You can proactively invest your time in your health by eating well, exercising regularly, getting plenty of sleep, and seeing your doctors for check-up’s and blood work on a routine basis. Know, and track, healthy biomarkers for a long life.
Invest heartily in those non-physical markers of well-being as well: emotional, mental, and spiritual health —you will reap many hours of well- lived life from them. Learn the habits of the people from the regions in the world where people live the longest. Places known as the Blue Zone (the Italian island of Sardinia, Okinawa, Japan, Loma Linda, California; Costa Rica's isolated Nicoya Peninsula; and, Ikaria, an isolated Greek island) where people live longer and healthier than anywhere else on earth. In each of these places people living to 90 or even 100 years is common. And they aren’t just living long either—these people are living healthy— without medication or disability.
Some common lifestyle traits they share? They invest time in:
building in daily natural movement and activity daily
eating food that was once alive and close to it’s original source
having close friendships and
being part of a faith-based community.
2. Invest in “Foundation-Building” Time – personal growth
There’s a little saying that goes, “a stitch in time saves nine.” Create the time to make the right stitches, and you’ll be spared much time, hassle, and usually expense later. How I manage my time changed completely when I took the Stephen Covey’s seminar on The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. According to him, we spend our precious 24 hours primarily on four types of activity:
Quadrant 1 - Urgent and important (crisis, deadlines, putting out fires)
Quadrant 2 - Non-urgent and important (building relationships, identifying opportunities, prevention, planning)
Quadrant 3 - Urgent and non-important (interruptions, phone calls, meetings)
Quadrant 4 - Non-urgent and non-important (TV, email, time wasters)
Covey says that we spend most of our time in quadrants 1 and 4 focused on stress building deadlines and firefighting or dead time where we try to unwind from that stress. But the real area of personal growth is in quadrant 2 where the activities of the Blue Zone people are. If you’re spending more time putting out fires than building the right foundations, you’ll never get out ahead of your to-do list.
3. Invest in “Do-Nothing” Time – chill out
Americans could use a little dose of “La Dolce Far Niente,” or “the sweetness of doing nothing,” something the Italians and many other
cultures have mastered. In America, we don’t feel our time is well spent unless we’re either producing or consuming, which is a limited ( and frankly, stressful ) perspective. I spent far to many years of my life thinking that just floating in the pool was a compete waste of time. I was addicted to “busy-ness” and getting things done.
In other parts of the world, such as India, it’s normal for people to enjoy
each others’ company without activity or even conversation. Investing in do-nothing time will help us slow down and experience a different pace of life, in which time’s value is not measured by its productivity. I now know the value of an hour at the end of each day just having conversation with my husband without technology or reviewing the endless “to-do” list.
4. Invest in “System-Creating” Time – creating extra time
It’s well-established in happiness psychology research that making small improvements to your life pays out exponentially in happiness.
I am a firm believer in systems and routines to help me manage my life efficiently. For example, putting a keyhook by the door so that you don’t spend five minutes every morning hunting for your keys. Or rearranging
your closet so you can actually see everything, and not spend 20 minutes each morning figuring out what to wear. Better yet – choose what you are going to wear the night before in your organized closet. Or coming up with a better filing system for your digital photos, or your expenses (check out expensify), so your personal administrative time can be cut in half.
Look at the tiny time wasters in your day and invest some up-front time in creating better, more organized system to address those things. A little time up front to organize your live will reap you lots of time in the long run.
5. Invest in “Cushion” Time –see the world around you
This is one of those time investments that’s so simple, but can yield such great results in your life.
In the famous “Good Samaritan” study from Princeton University in 1973, researchers John M. Darley and C. Daniel Batson put an injured person in the path of several groups of people, to see who would stop and help: those running late, those who had just enough time, and those with plenty of time to get to their destination. They also controlled for people’s religious affiliation.
The results: religious affiliation had no impact on whether the individual stopped to help the person—but whether the person was in a hurry had a huge impact. Only 10% of those in a big hurry stopped to help the person, 45% of those in a medium hurry did—but 63% of those not rushed at all stopped to help.
This means that being in a rush may be preventing you from being the kind of person you want to be—the kind to stop and help someone in need. Building in lots of cushion time in your schedule and preventing “constant hurriedness syndrome” is a great investment in yourself and in the quality of life of those around you.
6. Invest in “Savoring” Time – the small pleasures
A recent study published in the Association for Psychological Science found that wealthy people have a lower “savoring ability” - which is the ability to enhance and prolong positive emotional experience- like taking in the colors of a sunset or the taste of a cold drink. Apparently, having access to the best things in life may actually undermine your ability to reap enjoyment from life’s small pleasures.
It’s not a coincidence that savoring requires slowing down—taking a few extra seconds to really look at the colors of the leaves, or munching slowly to enjoy the texture, smell and flavor of a bite of a warm, ripe peach. Investing time in savoring all the unique sensorial moments of your day will guarantee your moments don’t flash by in a dull blur.
7. Invest in “Time Assessment” Time – life tracking
You wouldn’t keep spending or investing money without assessing how well things were going every month, quarter, or year, and the same thing should apply to your time. How frequently you decide to take stock is up to you—but a good system might be:
5 minutes a day to make sure you’ve invested time in at least one thing on this list.
15 minutes a week to review your past week’s schedule and what you wish you had made time for, and what time investment made you happiest.
1 hour a month (or two to three hours a season) of quiet time with a journal to assess the past season, how your time felt, and how you’d like to invest your time in the coming season—this can pair nicely with the tempo of the period. For example, holidays may mean more family investment time, the new year can be career-focused, and summertime may have a big leisure time component.
1 day a year of time alone or with a friend or partner (best if you can physically go somewhere peaceful and different from your daily routine), assessing the past year and where your times and energies went, setting goals for the new year, and whether you are closer to achieving what is truly important to you in life.
The bottom line: People who find success in this world are often willing to not only work hard, but to think about how precious their time is and invest it in the things that will truly matter and let you live rich.
Until next week
November 2, 2017
Join me every Wednesday on my podcast “Unlocking the Secret to Living Rich”.
If you have questions or comments you can contact me at my email firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram
Who is Cindy B. Brown? Cindy is a CPA, MBA, CFO, board member of public and private companies, business consultant, entrepreneur coach and a foremost expert in the field of financial mastery. Cindy’s purpose is to motivate, educate and inspire people to live their richest life. Host “Unlocking the Secret to Living Rich”.