I never used to think about how I spent my time until I started working for myself. Before, my day was pretty much structured by my job and commute but when I started freelancing, I got used to calculating how long it took to accomplish certain tasks. If I wasted time, it would take that much longer to get things done. I learned to cut out little things that distracted me so I could focus on the important stuff.
Many of us go great lengths to protect our money and possessions but don't think much about how we spend our time. We budget our money and install security systems to protect our stuff but when it comes to our time, it seems to slip away.
I believe that time is much more valuable than money or possessions because it's something you can't replace. It's possible to make more money and acquire more stuff but you can never get your time back.
Time is the only thing that can't be replaced.
—Derek Sivers How to Live
Your time and attention are worth a lot. There are Fortune 500 companies whose business model is to grab as much of it as they can. Keeping us glued to the screen and watching ads is highly profitable it turns out. They keep coming up with more addictive content to keep us watching and when we finally pry ourselves away, the alerts and notifications draw us back in.
Not only do corporations want our time and attention, so does everybody else. A bunch of little requests can add up to a lot of time. Of course we want to help out when we can, but we can get carried away with helping others and lose out on time for ourselves.
We often say yes to little requests because we are not clear enough about what we need to be doing instead.
—James Clear Atomic Habits
Historically, women have been expected to give up their time more readily than men. The traditional image of the ideal woman is someone who puts other people's needs before her own. The emotional and physical labor required to take care of a family and run a household takes a huge amount of unpaid time.
It's the invisible things like cleaning the house, doing laundry, or even refilling the soap dispenser that whittle away at a woman's time. Not to mention the time spent upholding the ideal of a slim body and fashionable exterior. All of these little things add up to a lot of time spent pleasing and supporting others.
Women can't have it all if that means doing it all.
—Gloria Steinem The Truth Will Set You Free...
The best method I've found for protecting my time is to have a daily schedule that I stick to religiously. Without it, it's too easy to say yes to requests or get caught up in random tasks. Not only do I schedule time to work, but I also schedule down time. It's time when I'm allowed to relax on the couch and read a book or go for a walk.
It's true some things will slide, but letting small bad things happen leaves room for the bigger things in life. We're more likely to reach our goals and have more time for doing things we love. I think the most important thing is just to pay attention to how you're spending your time and take control of your schedule whenever possible.