Time is one of the most highly prized and least valued comodities in our lives. We often treat it as if it was limitless until we don’t have it anymore.

In many ways, time is like money. Once you spend it, it’s gone. However if you spend it wisely, or invest it in the future, you can reap large rewards. If you spend it frivolously, it’s gone. Forever. Without investment into our future, or trading it for assets today, we burn time much as we might burn our paychecks when they arrive.

A new mother is suddenly initiated into the world of sleep deprivation because she isn’t allotted the same amount of time she once had. Those eight hours of sleep are often cut in half in the first few weeks of her child’s life. Those hours can’t be increased. You can’t ‘buy more time’ as a general rule. So often, because a new mother’s life is so busy with unfamiliar and time consuming tasks, she foolishly ignores her need for sleep and works through nap times to make up for ‘lost time’. In the money world, this is called being penny wise and pound foolish.

Not all time spent is that complicated. Quite often, we are given our daily allotment of time, we spend it, we get the next allotment, we spend it, and while we may not increase our ‘net worth’ by the use of our time, we don’t misuse it to our detriment. It’s kind of like the child who gets 10 dollars for his birthday from grandma. It’s quite common for them to want to rush to the store in their eagerness to ‘spend their dollars’. They pick out something, because they can, and eagerly purchase it. They’re happy. They got their item, money spent, and next year grandma will send money all over again. Yes, they could save the money over the years and have enough to purchase something with lasting value by the time they’re 18, but it wouldn’t be THAT much of a stretch.

But what I keep thinking about is that like children with their spent birthday dollars, it’s gone. They can’t change their mind and spend it in some other way. They have to live with the consequences of how they spent it.

Time can be like that. If you spend it on something today, you don’t have that time to do other things. I love to read. I literally could read all day. However, at the end of my life, there will be many other things I could have done that I didn’t do. I opted to spend my time reading. I can be obsessive about how I clean my home, or I can be satisfied with realistic clutter control and keep the filth away.

I own a message board. Most of the time, the board is self-governing requiring little moderation but pruning and membership issues take a long time. For several years, I did almost all of it myself. About a year and a half ago, I realized that I was spending many hours of my life doing administrative work on a board that I didn’t personally need. I didn’t want to close the board; many of the ladies are dear friends and often have no other fellowship in their lives. But, I have to say, I was getting burned out. There were things I wanted to have time to do that the board prevented. I appointed moderators. Then, I appointed more. Over the last year and a half, I added eight or so moderators, one who handles ALL the membership issues. This one thing alone has freed up hours of my time. There is simply less for me to do. I can disappear for a week or two and all is well. If I need time off to work on something else, I don’t wonder if everything is ok.

When I gave up my main business to sew exclusively for eBay and favorite customers, I was so relieved. This freed up hours every day of work that was time consuming but not profitable and had become unrewarding. When I work faster and more efficiently, I have more time to do the other things I haven’t done.

Sometimes, we take on a time commitment that cuts our time for other things way back. It may be a committee for the town or at church that consumes our time but let’s face it, in most of our lives, there is a period of time that gets ‘absorbed’ by things outside our normal lives. Vacations, a class we need to take, or helping out during a crisis can mean that those close to us find us not as available as they generally can expect. During these times I’ve been known to get a call from my mother “I have this phantom daughter…” or an email from a friend “are you ok? I haven’t heard from you in a while”. My message board inevitably has a few posts… “Chautona, you ok?” And when I allow my priorities to get out of whack, I’ve even heard my children say , “Mom, when will this be over?” OUCH.

The great thing about those seasons though, is when they’re over. That sounds terrible and like they should be avoided. I don’t think that at all. But you suddenly have memories of a great time (Lord willing) and a marvelous BLOCK OF TIME that you can use in other ways now.

This is where I often fail. I get that block of time back and I don’t budget it well. I’ve never been very good at budgets but I’m still determined to learn. At times like that you get a fresh slate. You can visit with old friends, and connect with acquaintences you wanted to get to know better. You can read the kids a new book or find a new movie to enjoy together. New projects around the house are possible again… unless one of those projects becomes another time robber but that’s a topic for another day.

Time. We get regular allotments of it. If we spend it one way, we can’t use it another. If we stop the waste of time in one area, we free up time to spend in other areas. It’s exciting. It’s energizing. Time. It does a life good.

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