It’s no secret that we all get 24 hours in a day. But it’s also true that some people have an inherent advantage over others when it comes to what they can do with those 24 hours.
Wealthy people might be earning in their sleep due to investments, perhaps more than the average worker’s hourly wage. Someone with a wide range of talents and hobbies can use their spare time to be involved in creative projects instead of binge-watching.
When it comes to how you use your time, we all have different opportunities. But regardless of those differences, are you making the most of each day? Here’s why we all could gain from better awareness of the value of time and a conscious effort to optimize this resource.
Valuing Time Equals Self-worth
Humans have a biological tendency to be driven by status. And it isn’t unique; across the animal kingdom, various species form dominance hierarchies to sort out resource allocation, and indirectly, genetic propagation.
Despite our efforts to behave as civilized, rational beings, we’re always influenced by that desire to establish ourselves higher up the pecking order. We compare ourselves to others; we jockey for position at work and in social circles. And we accumulate possessions and other trappings of status to signal our worth.
If you don’t make an effort to keep this sort of behavior in check, it can lead to harmful outcomes of status anxiety and poor mental health. Status competition is a zero-sum game. People can only advance at the expense of others. And no matter how far you go, there’s always going to be someone who seems to be doing better than you in some way.
To beat this trap, you have to stop conflating the external indicators of status with your actual self-worth. And while that recognition begins in your mindset, applying it requires better use of your time. You have to consistently demonstrate to the people around you that you know the value of your time, and you won’t let their opinions dictate how you spend your hours.
Determine the Value of Activities
Rethinking your approach to time management can be liberating. It can relieve you of the pressure to be relentlessly productive or squeeze additional revenue-generating opportunities into every waking hour.
However, it’s not a license to slack off. There’s a big difference between a doctor using software to set an appointment reminder and someone setting the alarm to watch a live sports game. One is using automation to free up resources they can reinvest in better patient care; the other is using it to facilitate even more leisure.
There are many ways to gauge the value of your time. You can start by measuring your realized income. Track how much total time you invest in your work. Divide your total revenue by the total time spent. The result can serve as your yardstick against which you can measure the worth of where you’re investing your remaining time.
Although you should never equate net worth with self-worth, it’s still useful to have a firm grasp of how different activities will contribute to improving your life. And additional factors can elevate or lower the value of those activities.
For instance, if watching a game or playing video games is a chance to bond with your kids, it becomes a higher-quality investment of time than doing so alone. By contrast, taking on added work, even at favorable rates, might overwhelm you with stress; it could end up being counter-productive. Simply resting instead of hustling might be better for you.
Watch for Opportunities and Costs
Any discussion of time wouldn’t be complete without accounting for the fact that it flows; situations continuously change as a result. As you adjust and optimize your activities, it’s vital to realize that they also come with opportunity costs.
Taking on a side hustle could mean missing your child’s recital in the future. Continuing your education might cut down on the hours you could spend planning a thoughtful anniversary surprise for your partner. There are always potential trade-offs to be considered. Miss a milestone, and you might not get another chance down the road.
If you’re going to use your time to seize an opportunity, it’s crucial to make it count. Even better, recognize that taking the time to invest in small actions today could yield big dividends in the future.
Sharing something about your passion or interests in a meaningful conversation with the right people can open doors. It could be a far better investment than hanging out for hours with colleagues at an after-work party.
You might never be able to earn millions through passive revenue or change the world with your 24 hours. But you don’t have to. Simply use your time with the intent to improve your self-worth and craft the best life for yourself.