5 Ways to Savor Our Most Precious Resource

We all know that time is precious because it doesn't last.

Most of us have an uneasy relationship with time.  "Time flies."  We feel like it's rushing past us, like we don't have enough of it.  "Time keeps on slipping into the future."  We constantly complain that we're too busy, and we feel stressed about time.

The truth about time and the way we use it

Some of the problem is our own fault.  We may have one or both of these bad habits:

  • We get hyper-busy.  Fearing that we'll miss out on an important opportunity or a valuable experience, we say yes to every request for our time.  We jam-pack our schedules, and our children's schedules.  We let being busy measure our self-worth, instead of focusing on giving our best talents and energy to a few activities we deem essential.  
  • We throw our time away.  When our go go schedule wears us out, we lose motivation.  Then we let ourselves wallow in time, wasting it on frivolous activities like needless shopping, overuse of social media, or TV/video binge-watching.  We gain no meaningful benefit, not even true rest or recreation.  Sometimes we skip sleep for these time-wasters, and we don't recharge our energy by moving our bodies, being creative, enjoying nature, or having meaningful interactions with another person.

But we have plenty of time in which to do amazing things.

You've heard of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, right?  He died at age 35.  Amelia Earhart and Martin Luther King, Jr. each lived to be 39.  Anne Frank died when she was only 16.  Blogger Leo Babauta has rightly said, "It's not about how much time we have, but how we use it, how we experience it."

How to improve our experience of time

1.  Appreciate it.

Every day that we have is a gift.  Instead of complaining about how little time we have, we could shift our attitude toward appreciation for the time we have.  Could this shift change how you feel every day?

2.  Use it intentionally.

If every day is a gift, should we waste it?  Or should we use it with intention?

We have time, but we need to prioritize it, because it's not infinite.  We need to use our time according to what's important to us.  That can include earning money, taking care of loved ones, taking care of ourselves, or something else that's meaningful.

The way we spend our time makes our real priorities clear.  Are you satisfied with the way you spend your time?  Do mindless, time-wasting habits deserve to be part of your days?

3.  Create space.

We may feel that we want to prioritize something, but lament our lack of time.  We need to make the time (which might mean giving up another activity).  If we can't (or won't), maybe we need to admit that it's not really a priority after all.  If it is a clear priority, create space to care for it.

4.  Don't get too familiar.

We all have the feeling that time is passing faster and faster.  Maybe this is because we stop noticing things when they get too familiar.  It's like driving home from work and not really seeing what you pass along the way.  It's all so familiar that you can operate on auto-pilot.

That's how we experience most of our time – on auto-pilot.  Yet at this moment, as we're all thrust into the unfamiliar situation of social distancing brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, we have an opportunity to reframe our relationship with time and with our typical too-busy-to-notice way of life.

It's possible to pay more attention, to try to experience things as if we haven't done it all before.  Attention is the secret that keeps days from blurring into one another. 

5.  Imagine you have only one year.

If you imagined you were going to die soon, your priorities might shift, and you would definitely use the time remaining to you more carefully.  I'll bet needless shopping, mindless scrolling, and Netflix binges would drop out of your schedule.  I imagine you'd choose your activities for their value to you and their positive impact on others.  You'd greet each morning with energy and intention.

We have this opportunity today.  Let's decide to take advantage of it.

Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Updated March 2023


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