The Opportunity Cost of your TIME!

Blocks of time

You cannot “spend” the same time twice; when you use it for something, you cannot do anything else with it. This is obvious, but we live in a culture that seems to be in denial about this simple fact. If we each listed all the things we want to get done in a week, and then listed how long it would really take to do each of those things, many of us would find the total greatly exceeded the number of waking hours we have in a week. Some try to fix this by sleeping less, which is harmful in a great many ways.

I used to run excessively busy most of the time. I had good reasons for this – ran my own business, raising a family, things to do at church, ministry on the side, and on and on. Gradually I realised what I was doing was not sane, and certainly was not the best thing for the people I love most. I began to budget my time much as one budgets money. Certain amounts of time are locked in, and I don’t steal from them under normal circumstances. My sleep time is one of these – I get enough sleep to be healthy and functional, and exceptions to this are rare and for very good reasons. My time with my bride is another block I guard closely and only rarely violate. Certain meetings and activities are also protected; some of these are work or ministry related, but some are recreational.

I am still very busy, but my busyness is during parts of the day devoted to that. I sometimes work like crazy till the end of my “work day”, then I stop and kick back. Initially it was difficult to do this; I wanted to keep going, to finish something, to reach a certain point. (This is especially difficult since I work from home!). However, doing that meant not doing other things, things I believe are important. This has become easier with time, and I see the benefits of living this way. I am more relaxed, I feel better, and when I am working hard, I am more productive.

There are times when I break the rules, but only with thought and discussion with my bride. I just finished a major project for the day job. There were deadlines, and then I had unforeseen problems. I was forced to take time from a couple of places, including part of what I normally give my bride. However, I was very aware I was doing this, and I was motivated to get past the need to do it. If I found I had to do this kind of thing regularly, I would know something was wrong and it would be time to re-examine my time budget.

Try a time budget. Make blocks of time, and do only what you have scheduled for each block. No matter what is left to be done, when time it up, move on. Be sure to include time for sleep, for relaxation, and time with your bride.

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2 Comments on “The Opportunity Cost of your TIME!

  1. Paul, the older I get, the more I see this! Time, closet space, physical energy, money– they are all limited resources, and contrary to what pop culture says, they can be spent only once. Cutting too close to the margin causes so much stress!
    Thanks for your great work!

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