Understanding The Importance Of Time
Time is finite.
That thought never really hit home until I lost a dear friend of mind at such a young age.
You assume that everyone you meet is going to grow old. You yourself may even think that you’re going to live a long life. Maybe you think that you have all the time in the world. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.
Tomorrow is never promised.
Sadly, I had to learn that lesson the hard way.
People seem to avoid the subject of death as it’s too depressing to think about. I can understand why.
However, in my own personal experience, grasping with the notion that time is finite has made me appreciate life and its fragility.
It made me appreciate this present moment.
Rather than squander my time away to something meaningless, it made me realise that I should be making the most of my time. It has helped put my priorities in order, which has given me direction. It has helped me live deliberately, allowing me to appreciate life.
Not that I want anyone to experience losing someone dear to them in order to understand the value of time – I don’t wish that on anyone, but understanding its value and how to manage it is both a liberating and valuable lesson.
Instead, I’ve listed 3 time management activities that will hopefully help you understand the value of time and change your life for the better.
What’s Your Why?
Just with every other skill that we try to pick up, time management is a learned skill. Not everyone will be good at it from the start. If you’re struggling with managing your time, I like to always go back to this question,
Why do I want to manage my time better?
Is it so you can spend time with the people you care about? Perhaps, you’re juggling several projects and it’s starting to get overwhelming?
If you’re struggling to find an answer these 3 time management activities will help answer the question and hopefully help you value your time.
3 Important Time Management Activities
Time is fleeting and if you’re not managing it correctly it’s going to pass you by. Whenever I feel that life is getting too much for me, I like to pause and remind myself of the importance of time by doing one or all of the following activities:
Momento Mori is a Latin phrase that translates to,
Remember you will die
This is what I realised after losing a friend, but you don’t have to lose someone in order to understand this concept.
Reflecting on your mortality has been an ancient Stoic practice that dates back thousands of years. Whether you use something tangible or a vivid memory to remind you of the phrase, what is important is that you remember its meaning.
You are going to die.
I’m not trying to get you down and depressed at the thought of death. Instead, let it bring meaning to your life and give you direction. Let it light a fire under you to move with a sense of urgency. Let it give you clarity and help you define your priorities.
They say time heals all wounds, but sadly this isn’t the case for me. I often think about the passing of my friend. I guess for me, this is when I practice memento mori, but your reminder doesn’t need to be as solemn.
Some carry a coin around with the words “Momento Mori”, others place a “Momento Mori” image as the background on their phone. Whatever reminder you decide to give to yourself, don’t let the idea of death scare you and stop you from doing anything. Instead, let it do the opposite and push you to make the most of your time.
100 Square Boxes
Grab a sheet of paper and draw out 100 square boxes. 10 boxes going across and 10 going down.
Each box represents one year of your life. Starting from the top left and working your way across, cross out each white box according to your age.
What is it that you’re looking at?
Do you see those empty white boxes? They represents the remaining years of your life.
But wait, you’re probably thinking to yourself,
The average human doesn’t live to 100
Your diet, exercise habits as well as your working environment all come into play. There are several different variables that can affect your life expectancy.
How can we figure out how long we’re going to live for?
Here’s an interesting life expectancy calculator that estimates how long you’re going to live for according to your current lifestyle. Obviously don’t take this data for the ultimate truth, we just want to roughly estimate your life expectancy.
Now that you’ve got your answer. It’s time to update the 100 boxes and remove any empty white boxes according to your life expectancy age.
If you’ve filled everything correctly, you’re looking at a more realistic view of the remaining years of your life.
Now ask yourself
With the remaining time that I have, what do I want to do with my life?
Visually seeing the remaining years of your life is a powerful motivator to manage your time better. It puts everything into perspective. Are you really spending your time with the people that you care about? Are you working on tasks that are important to you? Are you making the most of your time?
Look at those remaining white boxes and decide on how you want to spend your remaining years, but don’t forget the lesson you learned from the previous exercise.
Tomorrow isn’t promised.
Now that you’ve contemplated on how you would like to spend your remaining years, let’s go micro and think about how you would like to spend your day.
Because I’m feeling super generous, let’s say every day for the rest of your life I decide to give you $86,400. However, the money comes with two conditions:
- You can only spend that money on experiences, for example:
- Eating out with friends
- Hiring a language tutor
- Going to a self-defence class
- At the end of the day, any money left over is returned back to me
How would you spend all that money?
Go on, write it down.
If you haven’t guessed it already, the $86,400 represents every second of the day. How did you invest your time? Was it focused on developing yourself? Did you share it with people that you cared about? Or did you waste it away on something meaningless?
Every second that passes by can be spent on something that will either benefit your life or do the opposite. Dedicate some time on how you would like to design your day and value every second that passes by. You may not be able to decide on every second, but the time that you do have control over, it’s up to you on what you want to invest it in.
A Wasted Opportunity
Some of you may have reached this part of the article feeling pretty down. Maybe you realised that you’ve been managing your time poorly, or it just occurred to you that you don’t have much time left on this earth.
You’ve wasted a great opportunity if this is the case.
These activities are to help light a fire under you to do something with your life. To allow you to understand the importance of time and to help you manage where to invest it in.
Sure, we may have x amount of years remaining, but let’s make these years the best years yet.
Understand the value of time, what’s left of it and how you can make the most of every second of the day.