Productivity

Time and Balance: How We Manage Our Most Valuable Asset

Photo by Icons8 team under Unsplash license

Time is our most valuable asset.

Time is the only thing we have. Our only real currency. Our only real possession. The force to which we are all beholden.

We have, as far as we know, no ability to control time. We simply have it until we don’t, and unless we choose to let our portion run out early, we don’t get any say in how much we time we’re allotted.

And yet, as powerful of a force as it is, it’s easy to hide the importance of time behind other constructs, like money. How we earn, save, and spend our money feels like a really important part of life. The decisions we make with money impact many other aspects of our life — the house we live in, the cars we drive, the schools our children attend.

That makes money seem so foundational that sometimes it can feel like it runs the world.

Really, though, money is a function of time. It places a value on the actions we take, all of which occur within some period of time. As a result, how we choose to spend the time we’re gifted will largely determine how much money we earn, and later, spend or save. Those decisions are what make us who we are financially, and finance has a lot of control over the modern world.

So if time — not money — is our most valuable asset, then the decisions on how we spend that time are the most important decisions of our lives. And that’s exactly what we’re constantly doing — choosing how to spend our time.

Think about it. Every moment in your life you’re making a decision to spend your most valuable asset. When I start writing an article, like this one, then get distracted and check social media, I choose to spend my time in that way. I can never get that back. I don’t get to correct what I’ve done, as trivial as it may be. I only get to learn from it, to use that knowledge to make more valuable decisions in my future.

But, if making decisions on how we spend our time is the most important thing we will ever do as humans, then how do we ensure we’re making the right decisions?

Balance.

Like time, balance is everywhere. It’s part of everything we do. The ubiquitous example is riding a bicycle, which requires balance. Without it, the cyclist falls to the ground and the task does not successfully continue until the cyclist can get back up and find their balance once again.

I have a one-year-old daughter who is learning how to walk. It’s taking awhile, not because she’s not strong enough — she is, she can rip beard hairs out of my face at the root — but because she’s learning how to balance her entire body, which includes her massive baby belly.

Balance is also necessary in the tasks we rarely think about, like breathing. Breathe too slowly and you die (Goodbye, Time). Breathe too fast and you may hyperventilate (Goodbye, again, Time).

And it’s also present in more complex tasks, like managing human relationships, or a team of employees. We know over-managing (micro-managing) isn’t effective — it’s too overbearing. But when under-managing, the team can stray in a direction that differs from the manager’s vision, which often leads to negative consequences. Managing takes the right touch of knowing how much to interact with and guide every member of the team.

Knowing that balance is necessary to make human actions successful, and in understanding the role of time in our lives and the weight of the decisions we make on how to spend that time, we can effectively reason that …

Time is our most valuable asset, and balance is how we maximize its value.

If you are mindful of the decisions you make about how you spend your time, and if you make those decisions with balance, only then can you maximize the value of your life and the time remaining in it.

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