Making Mindful Choices About Your Time

Making Mindful Choices About Your Time

Imagine you had a bank account with a debit card.  Unlike your usual bank and debit card, you only have a certain amount of money per day. If you don’t use the money, you lose it. 

However, at the beginning of each day, you have the same amount of funds. This is the only money you have.  You don’t have credit cards, investment accounts, cash, or any other form of payment.  The amount you start with each day is just enough money.

You’d have to be very mindful about how you spend your money.  In other words, money spent on one thing means you won’t have money to spend on another.  For example, buying that expensive outfit might mean you have to spend less on food that day.

Let’s exchange our dollars and cents for hours, minutes, and seconds; a ‘Bank of Time’ if you will. That is how time works after all. Each day, we only have 24 hours.  Therefore, time management is not a matter of maintaining a balance. It’s a matter of choice.

That’s right. How we spend our time each day, is our choice. 

Some of us have more choices to make than others. I’m an entrepreneur, a single-mother with son who’s homeschools, and I overs the care of my 95-year-old mother. I have a lot going on. I have to make a ton of choices every day.

There’s a lot of information out there regarding time management, and I’ve read a lot of it. What I want to discuss today is less about those techniques and more about the psychology of time and how you choose to manage it.

Your psychology of time is your own

Do you know anyone who, no matter what, is always on time, if not early?  If you do, you might also know someone who is consistently late. In some countries, time is all relative and not something to be taken literally. 

No matter where you fall on the spectrum of timeliness, acknowledge where your tendencies fall and value them. When you know and understand your inclinations, assess when those tendencies help or hinder your progress in various situations. 

Remember, not everyone sees time the way you do.  If you have friends, family, or coworkers who’s psychology of time differs enough from your own that it negatively impacts your relationship, you need to have an honest conversation with them about honoring your time. 

Poor planning on your part, does not constitute an emergency on mine!

This is a statement all my children have heard from me at some point in their lives. This is the response they got from me when they told me late at night that they needed something for school the next day. It’s also the same response they got if they called me from school to bring their lunch or their homework.

Nope. I love my children dearly, but they may have missed an occasional lunch in high school or received a lower mark on a homework assignment or two, but it was not my emergency. It was their responsibility.

If you don’t value your time, don’t expect other people to value it for you.

I recently had a conversation with a coaching colleague about clients taking too much of her time. They were going over on sessions every time.  I asked her more about her processes and helped her identify what she was saying and how she was behaving. Together, we discovered she was inviting her clients to take more of her time.

We must consciously set boundaries with other people about our time. If you don’t make your expectations of time clear, and people take time from you, think about how you’re communicating with them.

For example, if you have a friend who is always late, then their psychology of time is different than yours. You can adjust your expectations, assume they’ll be late, and adjust your behavior accordingly. But that puts the onus on you.

What you should do is sit them down and say, “Look, I want to spend this time with you. I want to dedicate time to knowing you and being with you. But when you show up 15 minutes late, and I need to leave by a certain time, then this impacts that time. It not only takes time away from us, it takes my time away from me, and I resent that. “

This is feedback they need. Articulate your time expectations and value your own time so others can learn to about and respect your boundaries.