Time is Money?

Time is Money

Time is Money (Photo credit: Olivia Alcock)

I’m not one to argue with a “time”-honored cliche started by Benjamin Franklin, and I get the general idea behind the words. The problem for me (and for many others, I suspect) is that the way we talk about time and money tends to affect the way we think about them. And thinking about time and money in the same way can create havoc in the way I manage my time.

It starts when I think about time as something that can be managed on a ledger sheet, balanced at the end of each month. Don’t get me wrong. I will admit there are similarities between time and money that can be helpful. I’m all about planning and managing time, but using the same principles for time and money seems to break down at critical moments. Let’s look at the way we use the same verbs for describing both time and money  management.

We budget. With money, we make a plan; we budget our money. We make a list of the expenses we have each month. We allot money for special projects; we set our long-range financial goals. With time, it is also important to budget our time, to plan for the routine things that need to be done. We consider short-term projects and long-term goals for what we want to accomplish and try to plan accordingly.

We spend. With or without a plan, we spend both money and time. Whether we follow our plan or go with our impulses, we have an outlay of time and money. We spend money for many purposes: necessity, pleasure, security, satisfaction, meaning. We spend time for many of the same reasons. One big difference: while we can stop unnecessary spending, we can’t stop the clock. Which leads me to my last time/money management verb.

We saveWhen it comes to money, we save for our long-term goals. We are willing to put off gratification today for something worthwhile in the future. When we don’t spend money on today’s desires, it can be saved and used for something else at a later time.  We look for ways to save time, but regardless of whether we eliminate a task or finish a project more quickly than we anticipated, the saved time can only be used for something else in the moment. We can’t put time into some kind of savings account to be used for a future project. Unlike money, saved time cannot be put away for a rainy day. Once it passes, regardless of whether we’ve used it well or wasted it, it’s gone.

In my organizational matrix, time is one of the three axes I need to consider. I clearly want a different relationship with time. One that is less nebulous. One that lets me visualize time as a series of containers. Containers that have a set amount of space. Containers that will hold activities and projects in a way that allows me to breathe.

I plan to explore this kind of time management system, in which I can arrange activities and projects without over-stuffing the containers. Maybe a perspective removed from the verbs of money management will allow me to examine the other two legs of the matrix–space (resources) and to-do lists–in a more relaxed and productive way.

Coming up next:  Time in a Bottle

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3 comments on “Time is Money?

  1. Now that you’ve introduced the concept of a time savings account, I want one! I really, really want one. So let’s say there’s no such thing as a time savings account…yet. Maybe someone can start working on that. 🙂

  2. Pingback: A Gift of Time « Container Chronicles

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