The other day I was teaching the concept of age and time to my almost 6 year old son. We played this silly game where he kept asking my age and I kept telling him how old I was. When we first started this game, he couldn’t believe I was 38. This was such a big number for him. He thought I was only 8 or 9 at the most – as I am the Mommy he knew I was supposed to be older but not that old! To make things more astonishing, I asked “How many days do you think I have lived so far?”. He had another wow moment when I said I almost lived 14,000 days. “How many days do you think you have lived?” I asked him. He didn’t have any idea… A thousand was his wildest guess. Over 2,100 days was beyond his imagination. He had every reason to have a hard time believing he lived all those days as the first thousand was practically his babyhood years that he couldn’t remember, and the next thousand was all about his first self discovery attempts with no sense of time.
Looking at the concept of time through the eyes of my own child made me realize that as an adult I was nowhere near understanding the wider concept of time. As a full-time professional living in a city, I consume time as a utility. My days are filled with long lists of tasks, meetings and events that I need to show up and perform. I have physical, professional and mental goals that I see myself achieving in a rush. In other words, time is a deadline I need to meet, a duration I kill during an unproductive meeting, and a luxury I rarely have for myself on a busy week.
We trade our time in exchange for money, career or other “things” we’d like to have. Without realizing time is indeed our most valuable asset, we waste it on stressful workload, financial worries, emotional dramas and more… If we’re successful, we manage to be rich, reputable and maybe famous but we lose the most basic yet most precious asset: time. In other words, we become money-rich but time-poor. Is this what we really want? Having lots of money but no time to enjoy it…The answer is a definite NO for me. So I needed to challenge this vicious cycle and be the master of my own time. I asked to myself “How can we fully own the days we have left in our life (bear in mind that the average life expectancy is only 28,000 days)? I chose to be “time-rich” by balancing work and leisure, family and friends, exercise and eating. I am taking baby steps to get to where I want to be in terms of “time wealth management”.
Here is how I have started doing it:
– 15 minutes “me time”: I start the day early with a big glass of warm water and have the first 15 minutes for myself. The water I drink on an empty stomach after I wash my face and brush my teeth, is not only a wakeup call to my internal organs but an effective way of cleansing toxins, helping with digestion and blood circulation and even alleviating body pain. Then I have a simple routine: 5 min meditation, 5 min workout, 5 min stretching. A fresh start to the day in a nutshell.
– Cuddling time: Every morning I wake up my son by kissing and tickling him. I am his live alarm clock – one that wouldn’t let him snooze. A moment that makes me “time-rich”!
– Reading time: The 30-minute commute to work is my reading time. I browse through the paper and take note of the interesting information I might use for work. Be it a new concept, a scientific innovation, a social issue… my purpose is to accumulate knowledge that can make a difference in some areas of my life.
– Alternative meaningful work: Besides the routine workload I have, I sign up for projects that excite me. I started to take on writing assignments about topics that interest me and let me collaborate with young entrepreneurs. Don’t hesitate to get involved in a cause you believe in. Simply volunteer your time for something meaningful.
– Brief walking breaks: I take a few 5 minute walking breaks during the work day. Studies show that sitting is the new smoking that insidiously harm our body and cause chronic diseases and early death. It might be impossible to avoid sitting all together in an office setting but why not introduce walking whenever you get a chance? Walking meetings or taking a half an hour walk during lunch breaks can be the answer.
– Connecting with friends and family time: I make time to reach out to a friend every day. Old or new, face-to-face or remotely, feel the warmth of a friend in your heart. It only takes 5 to 10 minutes of my time and I feel energized throughout the day. Not to mention the sense of accomplishment I get as this is another item ticked off my time-rich list.
– “Eating right” time: This is one of the toughest for me as I have a huge appetite. I do miss the times I used to eat anything I wanted and lose weight in a matter of days when I watched it. That blissful time is now over. I needed to reinvent a balanced eating habit where my consumption of carbs and sugar is moderate. Is it working? Honestly, not always. I need to remind myself how good it feels not to crave sweets (yes, once you get a hang of the “no sugar, no carb” diet, the craving simply stops), not to feel exhausted after meals and have a much better concentration level. It is a big challenge where discipline and willpower prevail. Another excellent way to get “time-rich”.
I invite you to become “time-rich” in your own way. Just like I have, take a piece of paper and write down the little breathing moments that will let you have more quality time with people you love and doing things you enjoy. Make your time a gift you spend with family and friends, a luxury you can cherish to have a mindful activity, exercise or rest. Then you’ll see time will become a priceless asset.
Ela Erozan Gursel is a storyteller, copywriter and business columnist who writes about stories worth telling to spread awareness, share knowledge and inspire people. Her areas of interests are self-improvement, wellbeing and everyday philosophy. A native of Istanbul, she studied international studies in Washington DC and has been living in Singapore since 2008 with her husband and son. She loves all forms of art, traveling and learning about different cultures and lifestyles.