It is somewhat reassuring to think that the concept of time provides an equal playing field for everyone. Every single person has the exact same number of hours in a day as the person next to them. How then, if we are on an equal playing field, do some people succeed while others stay stagnant? I think a big part of it comes down to the value we place on our time.
Imagine there is a bank that credits your account each morning with $86,400. It carries over no balance from day to day. Every evening, the bank removes from your account any portion of the balance you did not use during that day. What would you do? You take out every last cent, every single day, without fail. Seems obvious, right?
Each of us has such a bank called time. Every morning, we get 86,400 brand new seconds. Every night, the time bank writes off as lost whatever portion of your seconds you have failed to use wisely. It carries over no balance. It allows no overdraft. Each day the account starts over, and each night, it burns the remains of the day. If you fail to use the day’s deposits, the loss is yours. You cannot borrow against tomorrow’s balance. You must live in the present on what you have been given today. Invest your time wisely and make the most of today.
I want to share an example about how I learned personally about the little value that some people have on their time.
One of the things I have become extra conscious of is my distaste for having just “stuff” filling up my house. Have you ever noticed you regularly wear about 20% of your wardrobe? What about the contents of your closets, kitchen, bedrooms, etc.?
For this reason, I decided to list a few things on Craiglist and Ebay (believe me… I have a long way to go before I optimize the contents of my house) to try to rid myself of this clutter, which honestly contributes greatly to mental clutter as well. Since I was in no hurry, I set the prices at “market rate” only to hear crickets. Ok then. People that shop on Ebay and Craiglist are in it to find good deals, not pay what one would normally “expect”. Point taken.
Eventually, I got to the point where some items just weren’t desirable enough to really sell at all. It’s not like I was selling bags of trash, I’m talking about things like a propane grill! Eventually I got to the point where this particular grill was listed at $10 on Craisglist and very few serious buyers were biting.
I decided I didn’t care for $10, I just wanted the stupid thing off my property and out of my sight. That is when I decided to list it on the largest garbage dump of Craigslist… the FREE section.
I am not kidding when I say minutes went by after I had posted the grill in the free section before my phone just about exploded. Texts, phone calls, e-mails. It was as if I had just offered free money to whoever contacted me first. I must have gotten literally 15 inquiries within the first 30 minutes. It got to the point where I had to take down the listing just so I could respond to the list of people that had contacted me. Before I knew it, somebody was on their way to my house, and that is how the grill was erased from my life.
One thing really struck me about people. There are so many people that are willing to spend valuable time searching the FREE section of Craigslist, willing to spend money on gas, then drive 30-60 minutes each way, all to pick up a grill that as far as they are concerned may not even work.
Let’s recap, nobody was willing to do all that for $10, but everyone was willing to do it for FREE.
How many productive, value adding things could have been done instead?
We owe it to ourselves to be relentless in our time management and heavily scrutinize how we spend each minute of our day. Remember, the time you use poorly never gets returned to you. The moment we start valuing our time like we value our dollars, that is when we will see a return of our time investment. This could be increased productivity, improved relationships, increased income, increased success, or all of the above. Let’s make sure we spend our time wisely, because time… is all we have.