How Much Time Do You Have?

A common expression I here is that people say they “don’t have enough time” to do important things in their life. Have you ever heard someone say they “don’t have enough time to exercise” or they “don’t have enough time to spend with their families”?

This is garbage. We all have exactly the same amount of time. Sixty seconds in every minute, sixty minutes in every hour, twenty four hours every day and seven days every week. Time is constant.

What you really mean when you say you “don’t have enough time” is that it isn’t important enough to you. If you really valued it, then you would make time for it. Its that simple. When you say you don’t have enough time, you are saying you don’t value it enough.

People tend to be more frivolous with their time than their money. This is a dangerous mind set, because time is quite often a far more precious resource than money. More money can always be earned, but once time is gone, its gone forever.

I think if people actually had to carry around time in their wallets, they would be more careful with it. Imagine if actually saw yourself paying sixteen minutes worth of time just to watch the commercials of an hour television program.

Imagine that you actually paid thirty minutes of time just to respond to an e-mail that could have taken only six by phone. If that had been money you would probably have jumped at the chance to get a sale of 80% off! You might even brag about it later.

Even though it may seem odd to think about it this way it is completely true. The next time someone asks you to do a favor for them, really consider how much time you are going to have to spend. Now I’m definitely not saying you shouldn’t help people, but realize that “helping” isn’t free if it uses your time. Don’t do it if you don’t feel you can justify the cost in time.

The other reason people make the assertion that they “don’t have enough time” is because they feel that they have to do certain things. You never have to do anything. Lets make that perfectly clear. There will be consequences for doing and not doing things, but you are never forced to do anything. You always have a choice.

If you stop going to work you would simply become poor. In other words you want to go to work because you don’t want to be poor. I know this may sound like semantics, but if you get it inside your head that you only do something because you want to do it, then it is far easier to make conscious use of your time.

You don’t even have to breathe if you don’t want to. Now I’m sure your desire not to suffocate is sufficiently important that this doesn’t happen, but it is an critical distinction. You breathe because you want to stay alive, not because you have to.

Because time is constant, the only thing that makes it valuable is how we use it. Basically, your time is more valuable if you use it to do more important things. The CEO’s time is worth far more than the cubicle worker because it is used for things that ultimately make a bigger difference (at least at work 😉 ).

That is the essence of the other half of the equation. The value of your time is based on how important the things you do with it are. This importance can be defined from the perspective of yourself, others or even society. So if you are currently doing something that is incredibly important to you, to benefit yourself or others, then you are being productive.

Another reason I feel people are so frivolous with time, is because we assume more will always keep coming.

Most of us have experienced being broke, unable to buy anything. Therefore we understand the consequences if we waste all of our money. We have memories that tell us why we don’t like feeling broke, unable to buy things.

None of us have any direct experience of being out of time. We have never had a moment in life where we literally stopped receiving time. Therefore, we can’t even conceptualize this happening.

But what is really dangerous about this is that there is going to come a time when we all are going to run out of time. And when we do run out of time, we better hope it was well spent, because unlike money, you can’t ever come out of a time deficit.

That is why we need to do what is important. Not tomorrow, not in a few weeks, but now. Because most of us never know when the river of time will stop flowing, but when it does chances are you won’t regret not watching a television show.

Make sure you use the time you have wisely. And if you ever catch yourself saying you “don’t have enough time”, change it to “that isn’t important enough”. If you can say that honestly then you don’t need any more time.

So, how much time do you have?

  • Matthew Bennett

    Scott, they’re some great thoughts. I’ve lost count of the times that people have looked at me like I’m an alien when I’ve told them they don’t have to do anything and that they choose how to do it. 🙂 . Parallels like this are really important. I think with observation and listening we can learn lots like this: I have had a few experiences of watching time run out in accidents I’ve been involved in. Tick, tick and suddenly the timeframe gets very short indeed and their time really does end in no time at all. Good blog, sir.

  • Scott Young

    Thanks for the comments, Matthew. Your blog is great as well.

    I can remember having a recent conversation with someone about how much time we were each working. I’ve been working hard on a software project to teach goals and had happened to spend ten hours that day working on it. The person I talked to had worked about six hours of their weekend on work they had to take home from their job.

    I don’t complain about working that much on my project, because it is simply that important to me that I do it. However, that doesn’t make it the same as relaxing all day, either.

    During the conversation the person told me that at least I was doing something I chose to, something that I enjoyed. At which point I made a point which was basically a summary of this article. Quite frankly, if you aren’t doing something that you don’t feel is important, then why are you doing it?

    Do people honestly feel good being a martyr to the unimportant?

    That attitude of “woe is me, I don’t have enough time” really illustrates their lack of understanding of time and life itself. Basically what there saying is, “I have no control over my time and no discipline to do what really matters.” Harsh words, but dying without living a life of meaning is harsh too.

  • Matthew Bennett

    I agree, although sometimes it’s harder than you think to decide on what’s really important to you.

    “I never saw a wild thing
    sorry for itself.
    A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough
    without ever having felt sorry for itself.”

  • Scott Young

    Now I think the difference is whether we are talking about the obvious importance of things and the subtle importance of things.

    Obviously, television watching is less important to us than a lot of other things.

    But deciding whether it is more important to work in one career rather than another is a whole lot trickier.

    I admit, this kind of question is much harder to answer. It basically boils down to “What is the meaning for my life?”

    Philosophers have spent centuries trying to answer it, so it is not an easy task. But simply the act of trying to answer it yields its own rewards…

    My post was more about those things of obvious difference in importance. Even though finding what is absolutely most important can be incredibly difficult, most of us can go a long way to narrow down the list before it gets really hard to decide…

  • shreevidya

    Yes, this is obvious we have 24 hrs. But we overlook it, just take things for granted. Now it’s time to be cautious about TIME.

  • Nate

    These old posts are really excellent, this is one of the best reads I’ve stumbled upon in quite some time. I think that, specifically, it comes across as sincere and heartfelt, whilst remaining concise and heavily meaningful over the course of many paragraphs. To be honest, I find that some of your newer articles seem like they contain some fluff, or appear to be wordy- or maybe it’s just me. I want to re-emphasize however: this article was incredible.