I came back into Seattle last night after two weeks traveling around the world. In the morning I went up to my local Starbucks, on 45th Street in Wallingford. These two corporate guys were sitting there, wearing suits and carrying briefcases.
In Seattle, you don’t see people dressed like that as much as you do in other cities. Over here, a shirt with a collar is considered “dressing up.”
As they were talking, one of them said, “Well, we should go. Time is money.”
I looked up from my nearby table. Time Is Money, hmmm.
Have you heard that one before? Hold on, we’ll come back to it.
First, think about something. Amazon.com has at least 270 books on time management, but most of them fail to consider a basic question:
How can someone actually manage time?
When you manage people, you give them tasks to complete and check in on them once in a while.
When you manage a project, you make neat little spreadsheets, break out the Getting Things Done book, and chart your progress along the way.
But with time, none of those things apply.
You can’t tell time what to do.
You can’t give time a raise when it performs well and fire time when it doesn’t meet your expectations.
Nope, you can’t manage time. Too bad about all those books. Someone should have said something before the 270th author started writing.
Like it or not, time just marches on.
More Bad News
Unfortunately, there’s more bad news about time. (Sorry.)
Like money, time is limited. But unlike money, once time is gone, there’s no getting it back. You can’t earn back what has been spent.
Time is closely related to the concepts of regret, inaction, indecision, and wistfulness.
All those things we left behind at some point.
Damn… don’t you hate that?
Time can not be managed, and when it’s gone, it’s gone forever.
But if you’re waiting for good news, you won’t be disappointed.
Here it is:
THERE’S STILL ENOUGH TIME FOR WHAT YOU NEED.
There’s still time to start that business, take that trip, start running those two miles that will help you run the marathon six months from now.
Or better yet, fill in the blank for yourself based on what you’ve always wanted to do (but have kept putting off for some reason).
“There is STILL TIME for me to ____________________”
If not, you may need more than a few seconds to think about it. It’s worth your full consideration, even though time is money.
Whatever you choose, hold it close to you. Make it your focus, and don’t let anyone take it from you. (Any number of people will try to.)
Back to Starbucks
The guys in the suits have left, but I’m still thinking about what they said: “Time is Money.”
According to the time-is-money people, I’ve been wasting a lot of time this year.
- I traveled to Iraq, Mongolia, Pakistan, and 20 other countries — all without an agenda, or anything really important I had to do there
- I spent an absurd number of hours standing in line or sitting on park benches waiting for train or bus stations to open up all over the world
- I opted out of the next phase of graduate school and worked toward building a career as a full-time writer
Before that, I spent four years working for free in West Africa, so you can probably guess what I think about the link between time and money. No, there’s nothing to that idea. So much for that, right?
But wait. Maybe I’ve got it partly wrong too.
Time is not the same thing as money, but it does have tremendous value. I don’t want to be like the Ozymandeus that Percey Shelly wrote about:
“Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair.”
Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”
Nope, don’t want that.
Instead, I want to treat valuable time with the respect it deserves. I WANT TO DO SOMETHING REALLY GREAT with the valuable time I have.
How about you?
The Best Strawberry
Oh, and by the way –
Research shows that the average user clicks away from blog posts somewhere around the 300 word point. Since you’ve broken the curve and made it further than that, here’s an old story that always makes me smile.
Image by myriorama
The story is about a Zen student who is running from a tiger in the forest.
The tiger is catching up to him, and the only way out is to jump over a cliff that leads to certain death on the rocks below.
With no real options, the Zen student jumps over the cliff, and just manages to grab on to a branch halfway down.
Beside the branch is a bush of wild strawberries, and the student reaches over with one free hand and takes one.
With the tiger above him and certain death on the rocks below him, he slowly eats the strawberry.
And as he does, he thinks, “This is the best strawberry I have ever tasted.”
Thank you for your attention. Now, get back to work.
Because Time Is Money… right?
Image by Planetina