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March 21, 2008

time is money

by sven at 7:00 am

Time-management is a crucial skill for artists as much as anyone else. Here's a metaphor that I find useful to keep in mind.

...Oh, and don't be too put off by the title -- I'm actually trying to reclaim and redefine that nasty old phrase!


1. Time is money.
Your time is a currency that can be used to purchase things you want.

2. Don't impulse buy -- invest your time.
Rather than doing whatever comes to mind next, consider investing blocks of time toward purchasing things that you really want.

3. Spend money (time) on planning your investments.
Don't over-plan... But a reasonable amount of time spent thinking about how you want to use your time is a reasonable expenditure which will increase your returns significantly.

4. How much time do I have?
Look at the schedule for your upcoming week. Block out the known time-commitments so you can estimate how much free time you have to spend on investments.

5. Make a wish-list of tasks
Make a list of every task you'd like to complete. You won't be able to purchase all of these goods -- but it's useful to have them all in front of you to choose from.

6. How much do my desired tasks cost?
Evaluate a wish-list of tasks, making quick estimates of how much each thing costs. Know that your wish-list will always outstrip your means.

7. Some assembly required.
Most goals don't come in a single package -- they have to be assembled from multiple purchases. Pay careful attention to what all sub-tasks are required in order to accomplish your ultimate goal.

8. To-do lists are shopping lists.
A useful shopping list categorizes items by which store you have to go to, and how high a priority each item is (so you can ditch low-priority items if you're running out of time). To-do lists are often dysfunctional because they don't specify where you have to be physically in order to do the tasks, or don't specify all the sub-tasks required to get you to the point of purchasing the main goal.

9. Track your investment portfolio.
Keep a list of the big projects that you're working on (typically 15-30 in progress). These are like purchases that you're making on an installment plan.

10. Diversify your portfolio.
If you only make plans to invest time in one area (e.g. writing a book), then when your personal economy crashes you're more likely to lose control of that project. If you are investing time in several different areas concurrently, you have a better chance of remaining in control of your life.

11. I am not my money.
I am more than my projects. Even if they all fall apart, I am still OK. I am the catalyst that effects things around me, but which is not defined by them.

12. The purpose of money is to buy more life.
Money (actual dollars) is not an end in itself. It is a means to an end: getting more life. Similarly, all the things that you can purchase with your time may be valuable -- but actually stopping and getting to feel OK sometimes is most important of all.

Note: I wrote this essay last month (2/21) -- it just took a while to get around to posting it.

posted by sven | March 21, 2008 7:00 AM | categories: writing