This is the second part in a series exploring how best to engage in a world with unequal resources. If you haven’t read Part 1, you can do so by clicking HERE.
In Part 1, I discussed identifying the unequally distributed resources you’ve been given in order to leverage them in pursuit of what you don’t have. Going forward, I plan on identifying some of the major resources for success that should be considered when evaluating yourself. In this article, we will discuss the most fundamental of those resources: Time.
It is the MOST equal of unequally distributed resources and therefore, a good starting place. Every person reading this has Time, but for some reason, we struggle with managing it to our advantage.
According to comScore’s 2017 Cross Platform Future in Focus report, the average American adult (18+) spends 2 hours, 51 minutes on their smartphone every day. That’s over 3 and 1/2 days a month. But it doesn’t stop there. According to the New York Times, the average American consumes 5 hours of television a day. Allowing for some overlap for those who watch TV on their phones, that’s 6-7 days a month, 72-84 days a year. If you add in the average 9-5 job and the hours you spend sleeping, there really isn’t much left. I use these numbers not as a shock factor, but as an insight into the untapped potential of our Time.
The sad truth is, the average person undervalues their time. And why not? Everyone has it. Most of us don’t have a terminal illness or know when we’ll take our last breath. As a result, we may take jobs that pay less than our skills and experience, ultimately under-appraising our abilities. We spend countless hours doing things that aren’t truly meaningful to us, and at the end of the day, we make the excuse that we just don’t have enough time.
Just like any currency, the value of our Time can only be realized once we know what we can buy with it. Rephrased within the scope of this series, Time’s value can only be understood once we know what other resources we can leverage it for.
Leveraging time for money. This is what we most often think of as work. Time is money. Our hours are worth someone else’s cash. If you’re making $12/hour, then you have effectively made an agreement with your employer that your hour is worth $12. If that upsets you, you can fight for higher wage laws, or write your congressman, or post on Facebook about it, and all those things may have varying degrees of success, but none of those approaches will alleviate your immediate situation.
You might believe that you’re worth more than $12, but the unpopular reality is, you might not be. Depending on your work ethic, knowledge, and specific intelligence relating to your job, you may actually be overpaid. Taking an honest look at the value of your own time will help you to allocate it wisely to more rewarding opportunities. If your assessment leads you to believe that you are more valuable, then you have an imperative to not devalue your time and to seek opportunities that align with what you’re worth. But maybe you’ve made an honest and brutal assessment that your time is not worth as much in the marketplace. In this case, it may be worth exploring ways to make your time more valuable…
Leveraging time for knowledge. In a future article in this series, I will be discussing intellectual resources, but it is worth quickly exploring in the context of Time here. Knowledge is power. One of the biggest ways you can skyrocket the value of your Time is by leveraging some of it in pursuit of knowledge and skills. I’m not merely talking about college, although that may be part of it. I’m talking about how many nonfiction books you’ve read in the last year? How many subjects have you dove deep into and not just Googled? How many skills have you learned? How many free college classes have you audited on iTunes U?
Trading time for knowledge is difficult because unless we’re getting paid immediately, it’s easy to lose sight of the long-term investment in our worth. It’s easy to forgo the possibility of a brighter future for the status quo. But knowledge, just like time and money, has value. It is a resource that can not only increase the value of your time, but also the efficiency of where your time is best spent.
Leveraging time for relationships. Relationships, outside of their obvious interpersonal health value, have an enormous role to play in your success. Agree with it or not, much of life is about who you know. You can attempt to fight this reality because it makes you feel uncomfortable, or you can recognize this truth and tactically exploit it. If we see it as a nature of reality as opposed to a grave social injustice, only then can we find ways to use it to our advantage. So what should an individual do socially to be successful?
KNOW MORE QUALITY PEOPLE.
INVEST TIME IN RELATIONSHIPS.
The time you invest in family, friends, and mentors pays dividends. Family can be incredibly therapeutic and be an emotional and financial safety net. Dedicating Time to seeking and nurturing productive friendships will give you access to an expanded set of resources and expand your sphere of influence. And fostering mentors in your life will allow you to glean valuable time-tested knowledge. (These three types of interpersonal resources will be covered at length in future articles)
Investing time in quality, productive, and reciprocal relationships opens up additional opportunities. The key words here are quality, productive, and reciprocal. In order to leverage your time properly, discerning between positive relationships and toxic relationships is paramount. More on this down the road.
Imagine you are a dictator manager and you have one employee. Your number one job is to manage your employee’s time to ensure they live a meaningful life to their full potential. How would you manage that employee’s time? What time would they get up in the morning? What would they do? Would they invest in meaningful relationships? Would they spend time learning?
You probably wouldn’t enforce 5 hours a day watching TV or 2 hours a day scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, rinse, repeat. You probably wouldn’t invest very much time in friends and family who sucked energy from your employee without reciprocating. Thinking of yourself as your own boss is a helpful way to begin building processes for managing your time. If we value our Time and want to leverage it towards other resources, we have to find ways to properly account for it. We must be stingy with our time, not to the point of insanity, but hyper-conscious nonetheless. Try putting mechanisms in place to prevent yourself from wasting time and evaluate the results. Some could include:
- Setting your alarm to wake up at a decent hour
- Buying a 7-day planner and write out tasks ahead of time, checking them off as they are accomplished.
- Checking your phone’s usage data daily to see how long you spend actively looking at different apps. (If you can measure it, you can manage it.)
- Finding opportunities outside of work to increase the value of your time.
- Asking yourself if whether something you are considering doing is worth your time.
Time is a resource we all have. It is a foundational, yet fleeting resource. Being able to leverage your time for additional resources is a paramount ingredient for success. Time is money, yes… But time is also Knowledge. Time is valuable mentors and friendships. Time is family. Time is raw potential.
Continue to Part 3