In her TED talk, Laura Vanderkam discusses what it really means to take control of your time. She argues that conventional time management advice can focus too much on small gains (that add up over time). How can I shave off a minute or two here and there so that it adds up to a whole extra hour in the day so that we have time for the good stuff? For example, when commuting get a head start on doing triage to your email inbox, listen to podcasts at twice their normal speed or brush your teeth in the shower.
“We don’t build the lives we want by saving time, we build the lives we want and then time saves itself.” – Laura Vanderkam
In one project, she conducted research into the lives of extremely busy women. She had them keep time logs to see where their time was being spent. In one example she found that one of them women she studied came home one week to find her water heater broken. To cut to the chase, she ended up spending seven hours overall dealing with the repairs, clean up and anything else associated with it as a result. But she argues, had you asked her if she had seven hours that week to train for a triathlon or mentor seven people? The answer would most likely have been ‘no, can’t you see how busy I am?’.
The same can be said of some financial advice. How can we reduce or eliminate small everyday expenditures so that they add up to big savings at the end of the year. You only have to Google ‘latte factor‘ to see what I mean.
These small everyday occurrences can add up, I’m not denying that. But when you really get down to it there are far more effective ways to prioritise your use of time and money. If you spend 2-3 minutes a day deleting the same old newsletters and promotional emails from your inbox that you never read why not unsubscribe from them entirely? Or for finances, instead of chasing small expenditures try to find ways to reduce the big three: rent, transport and food.
Don’t think you could possibly find an extra hour in the day? Think again.
What happens when life throws a spanner in the works? Your car breaks down, your washing machine floods the kitchen, you child breaks their arm and needs to go to hospital? You find the time.
Or when you need to find money to pay for the car repairs, to pay for the clean up of the washing machine, or medical expenses? You find the money. Somehow. Even if you need to temporarily go into debt.
“We cannot make more time, but time will stretch to accommodate what we choose to put into it. So the key to time management, is treating our priorities as that broken water heater.”
Now imagine wanting to achieve one of your goals, dreams or a small-scale passion project. Could you find the time and money for such things? Eh, not so easy. Why? Because we don’t deem them as important as our car or child’s arm.
Take responsibility for your time and money. Because ultimately it’s not really time or money management, it’s self-management.
Rather than say, ‘I don’t have time for that right now’ or ‘I can’t afford to’ be honest with yourself.
“We have the power to fill our lives with the things that deserve to be there.”
So figure out what’s important to you and find ways to reduce your biggest expenditures. Then schedule time for your priorities first, set aside the money you need for your big 3 and then time and money will save itself.