On Evaluating Time

I’ve been thinking a lot about this sought after commodity we call “time”. Time in reference to the ability to step back and really analyze how I currently spend every minute of it outside of work and determine ways I can make better use of it.

This is probably something most people have heard from friends and family before, but it bears repeating that the moment you become a parent, the one aspect of your life which you’re instantly deprived of is time.

I don’t mean losing something in a bad way. Your priorities just happen to change, so it’s natural to realize that some activities you once engaged in are no longer worthy of the time you’ve been devoting to them. For example, I don’t watch much television anymore and when I do, I enjoy having control of how long it would take me to watch a show by having taped it. As far as sports, I only pay close attention to boxing and soccer both of which have minimal commercial interruptions in comparison to any other sport you can think of so I don’t object to watching live games.

I see my time as being comprised of a series of precious moments, namely connections with myself, with my family and friends which leaves minimal room for me to waste it on stuff that no longer interest me. I can’t recall the last time I was remotely excited for the launch of a game for any of the consoles I own. Because being a parents takes a lot of your time, especially when your child is still young, you often have no choice but to dedicate your time only to activities that are truly worthy of you and staring at a TV set for countless hours is not one of them anymore. I’ve thought about selling the Xbox and the PS3 since they hardly see any use.

I’m not saying you have to completely abandon any experience you once valued but I like to think I’ve upgrade to something that ultimately improves me as a person. Once you start seeing how small daily time expenditures add up to years out of your life, you can’t help resist the impulse to trim some of the most obvious time wasters that clearly aren’t worth a big investment anymore. Everyone has their own definition for what time-wasters are but for me, it’s any activity you dedicate to without really any specific reason to do so. Once you assign this definition to certain activities, you’ll start thinking about how you have been spending your time.

I love reading, I love writing, I love photography, I love exploring the city I live in to discover places and meet people and when I’m not on baby duty, at work, at the gym or socializing with friends, any of the referred activities encompass my spare time.

In spite of my wife’s suggestion, I don’t indulge in naps during the day and I don’t sleep late on my days off largely because I think of these 2 suggestions as time which could be allocated towards something productive. Time is one of the most valuable resources we have as individuals and it took the act of becoming a parent to realize this. Think of it this way -  if you only had $100 to spend in a month, would you spend it frivolously on items like gum and chips or would you spend it diligently on food that actually has and adds nutritional value to your health?

Films and books have been produced around the concept so there’s obviously a strong emphasis on the value of time. They say it’s a bitch when there’s insufficient amount of it and yet when we have an abundance at our disposal, we squandered it like quarters at a slot machine thinking there’s not much loss that’s occurred perhaps because we fail to consider that a lot of what we do in life is cumulative.

Those who are unaware of its importance waste it and spend their time doing nothing. My grandfather despised the popular saying of “killing time” because to him, wasting it was more like a suicide in that we’re not harming anyone but ourselves.

What got me thinking about all this was a film my wife and I watched the other night after finally attending to a movie  that was laying on our coffee table long enough. The film was called In Time starring Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried.

In it, time is literally considered money. It’s a currency. You work to earn it. You pay your bills with it, you buy gifts for your family with it, you could have it stolen and you can even waste it all at a bar which would not only leave you flat broke but also dead because you weren’t careful in conserving it.

Everyone in this futuristic world has a luminous bio-timer embedded on their left forearm that counts down how long the person has to live. Everyone is born normally but once they reach the age of 25, the timer on their arm begins to countdown to zero. Everyone starts with a year. Life is bought one day, one hour, even one second at a time. It’s a scary feeling.

What I essentially took away from the film was that we shouldn’t waste the time we’ve got and we should allocated towards activities that truly matter to us. We all effectively have to work to sustain ourselves so there’s no question that dedicating time towards what we do for a living is a must but it’s what we choose to do with our time when we’re free of obligations that I’ve been evaluating in my life.

I can’t fathom the idea of both living and surviving like the characters in this film but if you knew that time spent on activities that add no value to your life are being discounted from the time you could be doing something valuable, you would probably quickly stop doing the former.

My time after work pretty much revolves around caring for my son. We’re lucky for him to have adopted the routine time we established for him to go to sleep every night. After his last bottle at 8:30pm, he’s tucked in his crib, the humidifier is running, his rockship night-light is connected and I’m absolved from daddy duty all the way until 10:15pm which is when I typically go to bed. If my wife is not working late, I obviously spend time with her but if she is, this is the time I spend either reading or writing for the site. The thought of watching tv doesn’t cross my mind because I have a very small window of time to do anything and so I don’t care to spend it on tv shows.

Do you often think about how you spend your free time? If not, you’d be surprise to discover how often we tend to splurge it on nonsensical stuff.