Time is precious. Some say that time is the only thing we really have. Most people know the expressions “Carpe diem”, “Seize the day” and “Seize the present”, but only few actually live by them.
Time keeps moving forward. Often, we feel like it’s just flown past us and are out of time. So, we need to learn to appreciate the time we have and use it wisely. We all have the same 24 hours every day. We should make the most of them.
Kids and time
We say that children have no concept of time. My 3-year-old granddaughter has reached the stage of recognizing past and present. For her, the past is “yesterday”, and the future is “tomorrow”. That’s advanced for her age, but limited compared to an adult’s understanding of time.
But I wonder about this view.
Kids don’t need to understand time, because they always live in the moment. And they experience life to the fullest. When they’re happy, they’re over the moon. And when they’re sad, they’re devastated and cry with all their hearts. For them, ‘now’ is all there is.
There is something beautiful about children. They could be sobbing, because another kid has taken their toy, and a second later, they’re giggling and laughing. With the same kid who took their toy.
They don’t get caught up in the past or the future. They make the most of where they are right now.
The sad thing about time is that many people still don’t understand what time really is. It’s an abstract concept that not many grownups understand.
Signs you don’t understand time
Here are some signs you don’t understand time and don’t use it well:
- You feel like you don’t have enough time
- You often arrive late at engagements, including ones you enjoy
- You procrastinate
- You don’t get enough rest – you steal time from yourself
- You have difficulty planning
- You don’t finish things you set yourself to do
- You’re bored and feel like you’ve wasted time
What would you do with $86,400 in the bank?
Picture this: your parents open a bank account for you on your birthday and automatically transfer $86,400 into it every day. You can use every cent of that money, but at the end of the day, whatever you haven’t used is taken away, returning the balance to $0. The next morning, it starts all over again with $86,400. Never more, never less.
What would you do?
Please! Just spend a couple of minutes to think. What would you do with $86,400 every day? Go wild. How would you spend a daily allowance of $86,400?
What do you do with 86,400 seconds in the bank?
The truth is that our parents did open an account for us when we were born. Every day, we have exactly 86,400 seconds to use. Whatever we don’t use is lost forever at the end of the day and will never come back.
But the next morning, we have the exact same amount of time again. You either use it or lose it.
You can’t save some for tomorrow.
You can’t borrow from tomorrow.
You can’t invest it for times when you’re stressed and need more than 24 hours in a day.
You can’t make more time, because tomorrow, it starts again, with exactly the same amount!
Whatever we don’t use is lost.
Time is the only thing we really have. So, we need to be more like children and make the most out of every second. Although kids don’t understand the concept of time, they intuitively know how to use it wisely.
They want to experience life. Today. Right now.
Common ways to waste your time
Having regrets is a great example of not getting the “time bank” concept. Children never regret. Ask a 3-year-old what a regret is, and they won’t understand the question.
Many people say, “I wish I had done things differently”, when it’s impossible to go back and fix what they’ve done. When you regret, you’re just wasting more of your time thinking about having wasted your time in the past.
Running out of time
Another example is saying you don’t have time to study, go out, care for your body, play with your kids, clean, etc.
Regardless of what you don’t have time for, you are in the same boat as anyone else. You have exactly the same number of seconds, minutes and hours in your bank account. If others use it better, it is not because of how much you were allocated, but how well you are using it.
Lack of sleep
Not sleeping enough is another example or not yet understanding the time bank concept. Why? Because sleep is the way we charge our battery, so we can make the best the following day.
Although not everyone needs the same amount of time to “recharge”, if you are tired, sick, confused, depressed or angry, it’s best to start with a good night’s sleep.
Think about it this way: resting 8 hours a day gives you 16 hours of productivity and enjoyment. On the other hand, resting only 6 hours gives you 18 hours to be miserable and the productivity of 5 hours.
If you are not getting enough sleep, and your productivity drops, you will need even more energy the next day to make up for lost time. But the next day, you’ll be tired again.
Another group of people who don’t understand time are the people that postpone their to do list – the procrastinators. If you need to do an assignment that should take you 1 hour, the more you postpone it, the longer it’ll take you to do it. And your efficiency will drop, because your stress will increase.
Everything you need to do now will take you longer to do later. So, waiting is not a solution, because the clock keeps ticking when we procrastinate. When we end up doing it, we have less time to do it. It’s simple math.
On the other hand, we have people who say “it’ll take me 5 minutes” when it actually takes 2 hours. I call those people “bad estimators”. They’re not efficient with their time either.
They’re like people who go grocery shopping and have no idea how much things cost. If you want to buy butter and you don’t estimate how much it should cost, you won’t think twice if someone asks you for $15 for butter. When you know that butter should cost roughly $3, and see a $15 price tag, you’ll avoid buying it.
It’s the same with time. We have to be able to estimate how long it’ll take us to achieve something: wash the dishes, shower, write a letter or drive back home. We don’t have to be accurate, but we have to have a good estimate, so that we don’t over-commit ourselves and notice when something takes too long.
We are not born good estimators, but we can get better at it.
There are more examples of people who don’t understand how the time bank account works, but the worst are unhappy people.
Our time bank account opens the second we are born. Unhappy people just watch time pass them by, as if they are waiting for their life to end.
Happiness is a choice
Happiness is what we’re supposed to create with the time we are given. Up to 86,400 seconds of happiness every day. Every passing second that we’re not happy is a second wasted.
We can’t really be happy for 86,400 seconds every day. That’s true. But we need to be happy for at least 43,201 to feel that we’ve used our time well. That’s when we can safely say, “I had a good day today”.
When your parents opened your bank account, they wanted you to use it to be happy. If you’re not happy most of the time, you’re not using your time properly.
The problem with unhappiness, misery, frustration, complaining and sadness is that they consume a lot of energy. For every moment you have a negative feeling, you feel that it lasts forever. It sucks the energy out of you.
On the other hand, when you have a fantastic happy moment, you feel it goes by in a flash.
When we are happy, we go back to being kids, living in the moment. Squeezing everything we can from the moments we have. Most children finish most days with “I had a good day today”.
You can’t force happiness, but you can focus on being happy. Take steps to make every day a happy day, and the pieces will all fall into place.
Live in the present
Time ticks at the same speed for everyone. Be time smart and use all your allocated time to bring health, happiness and wealth into your life. It’s the gift your parents gave you. It’s their … present!