I've really been thinking a lot about future vs. present, ever since reading The Time Paradox. Do you live every day like it's your last, do you save everything for the future, or do you find a happy medium?
One of the conclusions that I've come to, which might be blatantly obvious to everyone but me, is that time management should be exactly like money management. It's the same problem: how do you use a finite resource throughout your whole life for maximum benefit?
Thinking of time like money rules out the extreme ends of the spectrum. We all know what it looks like when someone spends every dollar they get as soon as it's dropped into their hands, and none of us envy that person (although some imitate him). Saving everything and never spending any money isn't that great of an idea, either. What's the point of having money if it gets buried next to you?
So the question, then, is where the balance is between now and the future. To answer, I think about how I manage my money. Here are some point by point analogies:
This seems like the obvious balance to me. Enjoy life to the fullest now, because fifty years from now is just going to be another "now" and if you aren't doing it today, you won't be doing it then. Habits only get stronger as time goes on, so if you deprive yourself now with the idea that it will all pay off someday, you might find that that day doesn't come in your lifetime. Happiness today begets happiness tomorrow.
At the same time, realize that there's no point in enjoying now if it comes at the expense of later; allocate your time and pleasure so that the next "now" is better than today's, but that both are great. Don't spend so much time on recreation that you have none left to spend later on. That's not any more sustainable than working all the time.
Treat your time like it's valuable, because it is. There's time for investment in the future and there's time for enjoying today, but there's no time for wasting. Make time for work even when your immediate happiness doesn't depend on it, and make time for pleasure even when you're busy.
Combine productivity and play whenever you can. I sometimes forget that I work, because I enjoy it so much. Don't commute if you can help it. If you can't help it, listen to audiobooks or language tapes. Push for every moment to be worth something. Don't worry, argue, fight, or plot revenge. These things make today worse and usually tomorrow, too.
The picture is some kid in Panama in an abandoned building that they filmed some of Quantum of Solace in. He's probably not the best time manager in the world, but I have surprisingly few photos that involve money or time.
Also, I wrote this on the plane ride back from Tokyo, in case you're wondering why I say I'm on a 10 hour plane ride. But I DO have a 4 hour plane ride to Austin today.
Thanks to Michael Olivier for pointing out that when converted to an email, these posts look terrible in Gmail. I didn't have time to fix it for this post, but I'm on it.
I like writing little informal things at the bottom of posts. Could be more where this came from...
Very consice. I love the phrases that you use. In 50 years you will just have another now. And "I spend money when there's a reason to, not when I have it". These are good rules to live by. Thanks to Karol for sending me here!
it was very interesting to read tynan.net
I want to quote your post in my blog. It can?
And you et an account on Twitter?
Another way to look at it is the old saying, time is money. For most people on a salary, when they spend money they don´t have by buying things on credit, they really have exchanged a slice of their life during which they will have to work to pay for that item.
This for a piece of junk which in 2 years is probably going to be thrown away.
When buying big ticket items its worth considering it reframing the "buy or not to buy" question like this:
"is this piece of junk worth 2 entire months of my life?"
Or another way of making the equation, all the junk you bought and throw out really represents a slice of your life you sacrificed at one point to buy it. And you are throwing it in the garbage...
I'm a natural saver too, but I've started to spend in the moment more. I found and really enjoy this quote:
[We spend] the best part of one's life earning money in order to enjoy a questionable liberty during the least valuable part of it.
- Henry David Thoreau
I think it might've been you that made me think about time in the following way:
If someone gave you $10,000 a day to spend on whatever you want, but what you didn't spend at the end of the day you lost, how much of that $10k would you spend?
Having that answer onhand, compare it to how much time you spend doing absolutely NOTHING every day.
I was at a party earlier tonight, talking to a guy who had lived in rural China for a while. The girls there, he told me, were naturally very beautiful, but didn't take care of their hair or skin. All I could think was what a huge opportunity existed for those girls: be the one girl who breaks convention and spends a bit more time on those things, and you could be the prettiest girl in your town.
No, my advice for young people isn't to be the prettiest girl in town. Hang on...
Opportunities often hide behind rocks of convention. Women, traditionally, haven't made up more than a few percentage points of poker players. But when a woman DOES play, she actually has a significant advantage, because the men she's up against will assume she's not very good. Sure, she still has to be a good player and learn the game, but the rewards for her effort are probably higher than a man's.
Think of someone who has had a positive impact on your life. Someone you admire and respect, but don't know personally.
Some of you will pick a renowned writer or businessman. Others will pick an artist, businessman, scientist or movie star. Some of you may even pick a hard-working blogger. At least I would. But do you know what all these people have in common?
They are all producers.
I bet you didn't think of a person who spends most of his time watching TV shows, browsing the web or playing computer games. Because that person is a consumer, not a producer.
Consumption can be a lot of fun. We're all consumers from time to time. We enjoy the time we spend watching TV shows or playing computer games. However, the moment we turn off the TV, all the happiness is gone. Until we turn the TV back on, that is.