Everyone’s heard the phrase: “Time is Money” and our world treats it accordingly. A close eye is kept on time: clocks are hung in every room, wrapped around our wrists, and on every screen we own. Time is seen as a scarce resource; another phrase you hear just as often is “there’s just never enough time,” right?
Michael Tierney gave a wonderful presentation for TEDxAthens this summer. His talk was funny, engaging, and you guessed it: about time. One of the most notable points he made was simply this: Every person, whether it’s Shakespeare, Einstein, Oprah, Gandhi, or YOU, is given the exact same amount of time every day: 24 hours (or as he described it, 24 coins).
Here’s the thing: time is a non-refundable currency. You can get in and out of financial debt, but you can’t get time back.
So, what if we viewed time as our primary currency? What if we changed how we planned our days and started being more conscious of how we fill our schedules, how we spend our time?
Try this: Grab a piece of paper and draw out a grid of 24 hollow circles: 6 across and four down. Now, fill in the circles with how much you sleep and how long it takes to eat, shower, and clean. Next, fill in how much you work, any leisure activities you do during the day (Netflix, reading, Instagram, etc.) and anything else you can think of that appears on your daily itinerary.
How many circles do you have left? Three, one, maybe zero?
Do you think you could free up more circles, or do you feel like there isn’t much, if any, wiggle room?
After I did this for myself, I knew immediately I wanted to redesign my day and free up more circles. But how?
This is where Michael drops a truth bomb: since everyone has the same time in a day, it’s really about our priorities and what we value. If I skip my hour-long workout, I’ll replace that time with something else later, like reading an article or watching Netflix (most likely Netflix). So in reality, I might’ve actually skipped my workout because it wasn’t a priority to me. Read that last sentence again. Did a trainer just say that?!
How much do you value your health and fitness? Is it only worth one coin out of your day? What would your life look like if you gave yourself 2 coins a day to work on yourself, both physically and mentally?
When we change our mindset from having insufficient time to inadequately valuing our priorities, we gain a new perspective on how we experience daily life. Instead of saying “I don’t have time to go to the gym” we say “the gym isn’t a priority to me” and all of the sudden, we start having an honest conversation with ourselves about what we value. Everybody values their body and wants it to be healthier (who drives a car wishing it would break down?) but we make choices in the short run that thwart pursuing being healthy in the long run because we prioritize the urgent tasks, comfortable routines, and easy entertainment over the opportunity to engage in hard but fruitful work of bettering ourselves. This honesty allows us to re-assess the activities we choose to partake in, and hopefully, make choices that free up more circles.
So, when you wake up tomorrow, ask yourself this question: what am I going to prioritize today? What do I want to pursue? How am I going to invest the currency of time today?
Thank you for spending the time,