You can make more money. You can’t make more time. You can go a day, a week, a year, years without spending a dime, but once that time’s elapsed, it’s gone.
So what can you do? You can marshall the time of others to contribute to your efforts, but for them to give up their time, you need to pay them, or show them a vision powerful enough1 to lead them astray, or you can have a few kids who’ll have no choice but to follow your orders.
If you have the money, the vision, or the minions to help you along, that’s great.
Otherwise you have twenty-four hours every day excluding the day you die to do your stuff — including sleeping, showering and shit, and making a few of your dreams come true.
And even within those twenty-four hours, not every waking minute is equal to the others. As you go through your day, you become depleted; you need to eat to refuel. Even if you eat, your willpower is eaten away every time you exercise self-control. And there’s only so much thinking you can do in a day without rest.
It gets worse.
You’ve heard the expression, “Time is money”, and you likely understand it in the sense that wasted time costs you money. But there’s another sense that we often don’t pay attention to: others are trying to monetize your time by keeping your attention. There’s nothing sinister about this: from the moment people started selling anything, from fruits to books and newspapers to advertising, others have been trying to make claims on your time. Then it was radio and television and the movies, and now it’s Facebook and Twitter. (Email and social media provide random reinforcement, and that’s so exciting. 2 Linda Stone writes about the delicateness of our attention here.)
In other words, the world around you is assaulting your senses in a bid to get your attention, however fleeting, to make a buck.3
Marshall McLuhan had theorized “we shape our tools, and thereafter our tools shape us.” To “know thyself” is hard work. Harder still is believing that you, with all your flaws, are enough – without checking in … a healthy relationship with your devices is all about taking ownership of your time making an investment in your life.
So. All this means that you need to be ever so diligent about guarding your attention, and it’s hard.