Time is money . . . as the adage goes. There is never enough time in the day to do what we want or when we want. With only 24 hours, we constantly scramble to be productive; however at the end of the day, there is always something else that can be done. Our thoughts continually trail to the work assignment, the phone call we didn’t make, cleaning the kitchen, reading the book (that’s been sitting on the night stand for months); our sigh at the end of the day is not one of relief, but of prep for facing tomorrow.
Have you seen the movie “In Time” ? In a futuristic world time is money. Literally. There is no currency, every person has a biological time clock on their wrist that counts down. Once you are born you age 25 years until your clock starts, and everyone starts with 10 years worth. (Once your clock starts you also stop aging).
With time being the currency, anytime you need something you pay for it with time. Groceries, a bus ticket, the rent. You earn more time by working a job; The main point is the characters are constantly giving away time in order to live, but the kicker of this story is a political statement of the difference between the haves and have nots, the wealthy and the poor, those who have no time VS those who have all the time in the world. What separates them are time zones (ha).
Because the poor are always low on time, their life is a constant scramble. Running everywhere, not sleeping much, only sitting to eat (or go without eating), borrowing from the time bank – and paying it back with interest. Every minute checking their wrist so they don’t lose track of time . . . or they could die.
The wealthy on the other hand; gambling, leisure, extravagant parties, they walk, and even speak slowly . . . because they have the time.
The whole scheme is a jab at our current financial system, but the analogies that the writers use with this idea is extraordinary.
Business – means to be in the state of being occupied.
In the movie, those who have less time must constantly be occupied with something productive – or invest in activities that are worth their time. Several times the main character does something and then regrets because he lost time. They live day to day (synonymous to living paycheck to paycheck) so he must be careful where he spends his time as not to waste.
We are busy. Constantly driving somewhere, looking at our phones being connected with the rest of the world. However the question that I want to challenge you today is ask yourself “how am I truly spending my time?”
A lot of times we don’t even want to take 30 minutes to pray because it seems like a lot. There is something else we would rather be doing that we think is a better use of our time . . . but let’s do an exercise (or not, if you would rather do something else than to exercise your mind 😉 ).
Fr. Mark Toups did this once with a guys group, the topic was prayer. But he lead us with paper and pen “write out every activity you can think of that you do in a day, and how much time it takes in minutes.”
I’ll use one of my busy days as an example:
- Sleep 360 minutes (6 hours).
- Prep for work – breakfast, shower, getting dressed. 30 mins.
- Commute. 30 minutes.
- Time at work. 480 minutes.
- Lunch. 60 minutes.
- Drive to mass. 10 minutes.
- Mass. 45 minutes.
- Bowling league. 150 minutes.
- Dinner with friends. 60 minutes.
- Drive home. 30 minutes.
- Prep for bed. 15 minutes.
- Read/Write. 60 minutes.
1,440 minutes (24 hours) – 1,330 minutes (22.2 hours) in a busy day. Even a day with no stops between activities, I’m exhausted – there are still 110 minutes of un-designated time.
And I’m too busy:
- to respond to a text message?
- to call my grandmother?
- to write a happy birthday card to a friend?
- to fold and put away my clothes?
We’re so exhausted by the end of the day that even leisurely activities become tiresome. Just last week, I was talking with some friends and we joked about turning down fun activities because even fun time with friends is now draining.
It’s time to admit something. Many times our perceive state of absolute busyness is a symptom of a root problem. A lack in time management. The questions and principal root of this busyness is “what are my priorities?” and “what is truly worth my time?”
Matthew Kelly speaks on this topic and makes a precise point. Paraphrasing, but no one has more or less time in a day than any other . . . so the most important asset you have is not time, but discipline. What you choose to do with the time that you have.
Re-spect – etymologically means to look again. Keep in perspective. Keep within your vision.
Most of the time when we think of respect, primarily we populate ideas of superiors, someone above us. Respecting your parents, respecting your managers at work, respecting a mentor. And this makes sense. Usually those are the persons we are trying to impress, or stay within their graces because we receive something from them. They offer some type of benefit or perpetuation to our life. It is within our interests to give our time to those we respect.
Consider this within the analogy of investing or business activity:
Strategic management has one goal; to optimize the value from resources. Whether those are certain types of financial instruments, or analyses between different projects; the goal is to give the time and money to those activities which have the greatest positive benefit to the engaged party.
Recall the movie. The characters with the least amount of time have to be selective about what they did with that time, you don’t want to waste resource on a negative return and lose. I.E. wasted time. The need for effective time management.
but . . . in the wise request of Aretha Franklin . . . “R E S P E C T, find out what it means to me!”
THE CHALLENGING TWIST:
Sooo if to respect means to look again, the opposite of this would be . . . disrespect. To look away, to remove from perspective.
So to encounter something or someone, and choose not to give your time/resource, you are disrespecting that opportunity or person. This may seem like a harsh way to dictate this idea, but I feel many times we dismiss respecting something/someone simply because we believe we are too busy – or subconsciously deem that they are not worthy of our time. The action of disrespecting in this context is to ignore.
Recall that love = choice.
“Where you invest your love, you invest your life.” Mumford & Sons
Paraphrase to the context of this reflection. “Where you invest your love, you invest your time.”
Recall the 5 love languages:
- Quality time.
- Words of affirmation.
- Giving gifts.
- Acts of Service.
- Physical affection.
Though these are all different ways to express or receive love. One thing they all require is you surrender time to another person.
“What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends; what you read, whom you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.” Father Pedro Arrupe, SJ
Many of my friends pick on me because I live by my calendar, but it’s because I want to truly give my time where it can effectively be offered. Without distraction. With complete respect.
A serious problem that plagues today is the inability/or choice not to properly plan our time. As young adults, what is so difficult about committing? My biggest peeves today are the “interested” or “maybe” buttons on facebook. There is a concert in N.O. coming soon that is currently 1,800 interested with only 300 confirmed attending . . . yes or no people. It’s not that hard. I had a party once that had 80 maybes and only 25 yeses. It’s hard to plan food on maybes . . .
Complete understanding is acknowledged that the choice between multiple goods can be a difficult one, and choices can change. However if our priorities are established, discerning between goods should be simple. As Fr. Arrupe says “love will decide.” The sieve you use to sift will leave that which you need. (shameless plug for the post on discernment, click here if you haven’t read it).
Communicate with people about expectations. Many times we feel disrespected or ignored because we assume our relationships/business/friendships are on the same page – yet they are not. We live with different priorities, and it’s the breakdown or lack of communication (communion) that causes pain/disrespect.
Can’t attend an event? Tell your friend why. Late for work? Tell your boss why. There is a huge difference between an excuse, and a reason. Dodgy answers or lack of reason causes mis-trust.
Have peace that people may be hurt by our decision not to choose them, however the respectful no is better than no response. Even in my recent dating endeavors, asking in person or VIA social (dating) apps, I’m amazed at how many women just don’t respond. (shameless plug for last post on the importance of responding, click here).
We need to be more responsive/responsible and quit pretending to be so busy. Don’t apologize for the symptom of your choices (busyness), own your choices and the convictions/priorities that make them. I tell people all the time “I can’t attend your function because my family has an event that same day.” For me family is priority, so usually that is the measure I use when choosing how to spend my time.
With effective time management we can be more intentional/communicative about our priorities. And the more productive our true business/busyness will be.
One thing I have learned working in Risk Management is a little intentional planning can yield great fruit. And as the idiom goes “those who fail to plan, plan to fail.”
After you watch the movie, you find that though the main character was being charged with stealing time . . . the whole movie is dedicated on him finding ways to give away the time he has been given.
As mentioned before, I always make effort now to express gratitude to those who give me their time.
If you have read this whole article it means you won/I lost the bet posed in the title. Completely serious, contact me if you want to claim one favor. A drink, a meal, a phone call, yard work, whatever (within reason). All it takes is a little planning, I’m never too busy for you. You have my respect.
Edit and insight credit to my Aunt Liz. With a house full of young kids she made time to offer her wisdom. Great gift. Thank you!
p.s. for those of you who have comments or critiques. Please understand that these posts are not all encompassing of the conversation. There are only so many things you can say in less than 2,000 words. If you have comments, questions, or additional insights – please feel free to contact me.