I’m big on the idea that time is the most important form of wealth we all have. With an infinite amount of time you could theoretically consume or produce however much you want. But time is the one thing we can’t obtain more of. Our bodies and minds are here for a very finite period. So understanding this constraint is crucial to everything we do and how we do it. We can’t really create time, but we can use time more efficiently.
- Eliminate or reduce media. TV, for starters. That’s easy. Computers, since I work in tech, and love the internet, is less easy. Smartphones, also not easy. For a while I had my email retrieve messages from the server only at 10AM and at 4PM. That was brilliant. I should do that again. And at another time I spent roughly an hour online in the morning and another hour in the afternoon. Super! I was up to date on all my social media and yet I suddenly felt as if I had cloned myself, I had so much time.
- Work offline. A blog post like this one can be written using a paper and pencil, and you’re significantly less likely to find yourself, five hours after you started writing it, editing a Wikipedia entry on Even-toed Ungulates. I speak of what I know, friend. Paper, yes. Pencil, yes. Some of my favorite tools are listed on Lifehacker.
- Do less. Eliminate activites that are prestigious. Eliminate activities that require you to be around people you can’t stand. Eliminate activities that you know are a waste of time that you keep on doing out of habit. Do things that add meaning to your life. Fulfill your responsibilities. Don’t do things for people who should be doing them for themselves.
- Don’t make appointments or schedule meetings. This is difficulty level 8 or 9, but not impossible. One way around this one is the “come by Thursday afternoon” strategy — that is, not setting a specific time to meet, but being flexible about that time the meeting starts. This is significantly less stressful for everyone and not even less efficient. Well, let’s just say it is less stressful for me. I imagine it would drive more OCD or Aspergersy type people around the bend.
- Sleep in two shifts. Researchers have discovered that in pre-industrial times, people slept in two shifts, waking in the middle of the night for some solitude, conversations with another person, wondering, or wandering. Then they’d go back to sleep for another stretch. I have been doing this lately, and have been able to get 2-3 hours of uninterrupted creative work done in the middle of the night.
- Make time less precious. We are way too efficient, making use of every hour, every minute. When you were a kid, didn’t you just spend hours poking sticks in the mud, climbing trees and sitting in them, looking at shells and seaweed that washed up on the shoreline? Time was not precious then, we weren’t trying to stuff an accomplishment into every minute every day, we had time for thoughts and feelings. That was good! Any day spent that way was a day of joy and order. There was so much time.
Mr. Roche is the Founder and Chief Investment Officer of Discipline Funds.Discipline Funds is a low fee financial advisory firm with a focus on helping people be more disciplined with their finances.
He is also the author of Pragmatic Capitalism: What Every Investor Needs to Understand About Money and Finance, Understanding the Modern Monetary System and Understanding Modern Portfolio Construction.