Are You Using Time? Or Spending It?

Photo: Clock face green background“If only I had more time, I’d…”


“I just don’t have enough time to…”


“[Blank] always gets in the way of…”

All of the above are examples of common reasons – ahem – excuses for why many of us don’t accomplish what we really want or need to do. I invite you to examine what excuses you’re using, when you’re dishing them out, dig deep into why, and then figure out how to make changes.

The great dividing line between success and failure can be expressed in five words: “I did not have time.”

Sundays are the day of the week when I reflect on the previous week’s accomplishments or failures and the coming week’s list of tasks and goals. I find it easiest to plan the upcoming week after I look at how I spent my time versus how I used my time the previous seven days. Remember, experience is vital to life and living life to its fullest. And even the least productive misuse of time can be turned into a learning experience.

Nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely.

For example, last week, instead of sticking to my predetermined time management plan a.k.a. schedule in the evenings, I chose to spend my time watching TV shows I’d recorded on the DVR. What I should’ve done was use that time as I set forth in my daily schedule: reading for two hours. Why did I spend my time instead of use it? The only excuse I could come up with, aside from pure laziness, was not really being into the book I’m reading. But I don’t like excuses. So this week I will stick to my daily schedule; however, I will give myself permission to substitute a different book if I feel reluctant to pick up the current one.

Lost wealth may be replaced by industry, lost knowledge by study, lost health by temperance or medicine, but lost time is gone forever.

Photo: Broken clock parts blue backgroundDid any of the excuses in the first paragraph hit home with you? Do you blame lack of time for why you can’t do what you want to do? Then I suspect three things: (1) you haven’t sat down and figured out what’s truly important in your life; (2) you feel guilty when you do use your time in a way that furthers you along the path to accomplishment; and/or (3) you lack the willpower and perseverance needed to be successful in your endeavor.

Sadly, the majority of us never really spend our time doing the things we love; the things we feel passionate about or that make us feel alive whilst we do them. Most people do what they have to do because that’s what they’re “supposed” to do. Ugh. How depressing is that? Once you’ve figured out what those things really are, and take the leap to make the changes needed, the sense of relief, empowerment, and peace of mind are almost overwhelming. When you know what’s important to you, a crazy amount of time opens up in your schedule.

In truth, people can generally make time for what they choose to do; it is not really the time but the will that is lacking.

And then there are certain folks who, once on the road towards achieving their truly important goals, feel guilty or selfish for placing such a high value on their wants and time. They think it’s unfair to sacrifice brand new clothes every season for the kids just so they can work a lower paying yet more emotionally rewarding job. They couldn’t imagine telling their husband they can’t fix supper because they want to [fill in the blank]. I say, as long as what you’ve set out to accomplish doesn’t hurt others, then using your time the way you want to is the right thing to do, and it will actually improve your relationships with others because of the changes it will spark inside of you.

Ordinary people think merely of spending time. Great people think of using it.

Photo: Hand holding hourglassIn closing, why not take a few minutes this morning to ask yourself if you’re using the time you’ve been gifted to the fullest? Going to a job you hate so you can have the nicest car on the block or the latest fashion labels is not an example of wise time usage. Driving an hour out of town to a job you love, one that makes you feel good about yourself and the work you’re doing, is an excellent example of using your time wisely.

Letting your teenager spend the night cooped up in their bedroom while you spend the night scrubbing the house until it sparkles is time wasted. Sitting across from each other at the table while you share some cookie dough ice cream and talk about the funniest moments in your life is using limited time to strengthen the relationship with your child. They’ll be off to start their own life before you know it, then you can scrub away until your heart’s content.

Oh, and P.S. Kids learn by imitation. When kids see their parent(s) living a life that makes them happy and using their time on what’s important, they will follow suit.

Out of curiosity, where do you lose most of your time? What’s the biggest time suck in your life?


Life Optimizer – Want more inspirational quotes about time? Check out this site.

Study Guides & Strategies – Want to create a daily schedule? Check out this site. Although it’s designed for students, you could easily adapt the chart to your needs.

RescueTime – Ever wonder where you spend your time when you’re on the computer? Wonder no more. This free software sits in the background and tracks everywhere you go. Plus, it allows you to do a lot of other cool functions like voluntarily block the sites that suck up your time. Nifty, eh? Here’s the direct link to the tour for individual users.

4 Replies to “Are You Using Time? Or Spending It?

  1. There’s a lot to think about with this post, Leah. I have often said we find the time to do the things that are most important to us. I always hate it when people use time as an excuse for why they failed to do something. We’re all given the same amount of time in a day. It’s up to us to decide what’s really important.

    Am I using my time to the fullest? If I’m being honest, Id have to say that most days, I’m not. I sometimes find myself complaining about my lack of accomplishments in a day, but I have only myself to blame for that. I find it difficult to take time just for myself, although I’m happy to say that I’m working toward changing that!

    A nice thought-provoking post.

    1. Laura,

      That’s really one of the best compliments anyone could give me: My words made them think! And I believe we’re all guilty (to some degree) of not using our time to the max on a daily basis. But that doesn’t mean we can’t strive to do better, eh?

      Take care,

  2. My biggest time suckers are technology. My tv and computer are big parts of my day but my days don’t have many requirements since i’m not working and waiting until fall for my schooling to resume…I’m not sure why I end up wasting most of my day diddling around the internet, playing freecell, watching movies, and reruns of TV shows (until primetime which i have select shows i watch on select days- Lost, 18 kids and counting, parenthood, etc). I’m a queen of good intentions that never get completely fulfilled…i really think procrastination should be a disease that people are treated for. But maybe I’d be one of those fools that “thinks” i don’t have a problem…

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