How Would You Change the Way You Spend Your Time?

| 12/18/2009 11:41:49 AM

Tags: planning, time, question to readers,

In an already (in)famously busy country, the holiday season in the United States may be even busier for many people — which makes it a perfect moment to consider the value of all that busyness. At the heart of this consideration is time: What you do with it, how you spend it and why you spend it as you do. Most people don't think of time as a resource, but I would argue (and I wouldn't be the first or the most eloquent to do so) that time is our most valuable resource. With all the money in the world, you can do nothing without time. And time has an important benefit that money and other useful resources don't. It's one in which we are all born rich.

We often receive letters from readers sharing their dreams of creating a self-sufficient homestead or growing container gardens on a city balcony. Regardless of scope or location, these dreams require time — time to plan, sometimes to save for, to bring into reality and to enjoy. It's so easy to fritter away time without considering the cost of doing so. How many hours have you spent on activities that are neither fulfilling nor enriching, or with people that (no matter how nice they may be) aren't enriching your life, or you theirs? One way or the other, you spend your time. If you're spending it on meaningless activities or perceived obligations that really aren't important, it's like paying twice the price for something you didn't really want in the first place. You paid in the time that was spent, and you've paid again by taking that much time away from the plans and people that you do value.

If you take a look at how you spend your time versus how you would like to, what would you change? What would you most like to spend your valuable time working toward? Let us know in the comments below.


The first time I heard someone discuss time in this way was when I encountered Rolf Potts' book Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel a few years ago. I haven't been able to shake the idea yet, and hope not to. Even if long-term travel doesn't pique your interest, I'd recommend the book for Potts' more thorough (and more skillful) discussion of the ideas above. 


sara mason
12/31/2009 10:56:56 AM

That's easy! LESS HOME WORK FOR KIDS. My niece has hours and hours of home work each evening. Even on the weekends. She's a high school freshman and I know the AP classes are more demanding but seriously, I don't understand how you should go to school all day long and then come home and do more of the same until bedtime every single day. Those kids need time to get out in the fresh air and get some exercise and have some FREE TIME to do what they wish. I know she even has homework over the holiday break. So for her I'd wish her more free time, time to do art projects, sleep, read for pleasure, visit with friends and family.

12/30/2009 10:08:33 PM

When I was a kid and just laying around the house my dad used to say "'ll never get that time back" On one hand he was right. On the other since I don't have a family and I'm off 3 months of the year, I once more find myself with a lot of free time.

12/29/2009 6:13:52 PM

My wife has MS and it has progressed this year to the point that she requires full time assistance. In July I determined that I had sufficient resources to quit my job and get by on what I have. Now I am now here with her rather than just here for her.

12/24/2009 2:15:10 AM

I would spend time in an art studio, designing and creating. Grow a garden, cook healthy meals, exercise, and get enough sleep.

jen perkins
12/22/2009 11:19:48 AM

I would decorate my house by myself, not expensively, but with interesting pieces of second-hand furniture I had time to pick out, home-made curtains and pillows in the fabrics of my choice, and low-voc paints in both colorful and earthy tones.

12/21/2009 9:42:25 PM

When I'm making enough money to do what I want, I'm getting caught up on bills. When I have enough time, like now, I'm out of work without the funds to do much of anything.

12/21/2009 1:49:05 PM

I have all the time in the world, just no money for what I would like to do.

12/21/2009 1:33:00 PM

I have been pondering this question for a couple months now. I clicked on the link thinking it had some association with the book, Your Money or Your Life. It focuses on this same issue & how we trade our finite time on this earth for work that is sometimes unfulfilling. Fortunately, I have a good job with a good employer. However, they is definitely another life I would like to lead less dependent on a salary & benefits. I'm working towards this, but if my husband & could do it now, we would. We would love to be self-sufficient with enough time to manage a small hobby farm with livestock. We already grow 90% of our own vegetables & our orchard is now planted for future production. Livestock would round this out, but requires more time. We would love to have time to pursue this endeavor as well as other activities associated with self-sufficient living.

kate phillips
12/21/2009 8:27:57 AM

hold hands and walk...slower and more aware... drink my coffee while it is hot and fresh... bake bread and eat it without guilt.. rest heart and mind in the company of my husband without constraints of 'next' send handpressed flowers and ink drawings via snailmail (or use software to design such and still use the email to save trees and postage:) play....sandboxes, color, pond, treehouse, cloudanimals,read in the grass which is longer and more elegant because i didn't mow it.... more than intentions, i am doing this....thank you for asking....

12/21/2009 8:16:39 AM

I have been carefully considering this same idea for several years now; mostly since I entered the workforce from homeschooling mom mode. I spend all of my non-work time in meetings and hanging-out, developing lowest-carbon-use household procedures (!), and now I've added CSA-work-share-farming. What would I do with more time next month specifically? Clean out my laundry room, which houses canned food, winter squash and onions, all drying laundry (no working dryer here), and the various you-never-know items accumulated over time.

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