Are You Time-Rich?

How often have you been asked, “Busy lately?” How do you respond? I know what my response would be: “Really? You need to ask?” Seriously, who isn't crazy busy? With demands from family, child care, elder care, hobbies, cleaning and household upkeep, getting groceries, paying bills, going to the cleaners, returning library books, getting the car serviced, volunteering at the food shelf, the neighborhood watch—the list goes on…

Then add in work: meetings, fixing a problem, meetings, budgeting, meetings, strategy planning, meetings, responding to emails, meetings. To actually do the work generated by all this activity, I simply spend my evenings trying to catch up. Technology, once touted as the great time saver, really just extends the number of hours I devote to the endless list of to-do’s that are waiting to be checked off.

It is a hurried kind of life; there never seems to be enough time to cross everything off my ever-burgeoning list of things to be done. It leaves me with the feeling of being not financially poor, but time-poor. I would give almost anything to be “time-rich!”

Getting to be time-rich is not just a question of better time management strategies. Such strategies often derive from the idea of getting just a little more organized or doing things just a bit faster. The data-driven world we live in has produced a mathematical approach to how we spend our time. You’ve probably heard of a nanosecond, but the new term is an attosecond, which is one quintillionth of a second. I don’t even know how many zeros are in the number, quintillion. Trying to accomplish something by shaving off a few quintillionths of a second doesn’t mean anything to me.

Instead of looking at time from a mathematical perspective, what would happen if you viewed time in a different way?

Everyone gets 24 hours in the day. Instead of looking at those 24 hours as something to parcel out minute by minute (or attosecond by attosecond), you could look at the whole day. Or better yet, the entire week. Don’t think about what you need to get done; instead, who you want to be during the week. A caring parent, son or daughter? A loving spouse or partner? An encouraging and creative colleague? Your own best friend?

Once you choose who you want to be this week, you can choose what you need to do. It may not shorten your to-do list, but it will give new meaning—maybe even joy—to those everyday activities.

That’s what being time-rich is really all about.