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08.18.2015 Sharon Spano, Ph.D.

How Do You Value Your Time?

My husband’s favorite saying is, “We’ve got plenty of time.” Makes me crazy when I’m running around with my hair on fire.

Many of us value time differently because we have a different experience of time. Some people believe they have enough time; others feel as though they’re being chased by the clock.

The question is, where are YOU on the spectrum? Scarcity, abundance or somewhere in between?

It’s important that you consider this question because your experience of time dictates how you manage your day, your life, even your finances.

We all have the same amount of time in each day. So, what’s the difference between scarcity and abundance of time?

The short answer: How you think.

How you think about yourself in relation to time dictates how you value your time.

The Flow of Time

What makes time so challenging is that it’s both concrete and abstract. We watch the minutes on the clock tick by on a very real clock. Even so, we measure time according to “zones.” And, depending on your circumstance, time can seem to move either fast or slow.

If you’re late for work, a red light can seem like hours, but if you’re scrolling through emails, that same light can feel like it changed in a nanosecond.

To complicate matters further, research tells us that people experience time differently based on their stage of development. Think of the incessant questions of a young child in the back seat of a car: “Are we there yet?” For that child, a half-hour trip across town can seem like days.

When adults gets stuck in early stages of development, they, too, have difficulty prioritizing their time or planning for the future. Such difficulty can wreak havoc on their lives.

For now, let’s skip the hard stuff and focus on the interesting nuances I’m seeing in my research on time and money.

Here’s What Abundance Looks Like

For the people who live in scarcity of time, the distinctions are fairly obvious. They always feel as though they’re being chased by time. There’s never enough time to do the things they want to do; they are frustrated and overwhelmed.

There are subtle nuances, however, for those who score in either the moderate or high levels of abundance.

Our early results from The Money Meter assessment indicate two camps of individuals in the abundance scoring categories. For ease of discussion, let’s talk about these two groups as the Yellow and Blue Zone.

The Yellow Zone: Moderate Time Abundance

People who are scoring in the moderate zone of abundance state that they experience less stress and fewer negative emotions about time than those in scarcity because they view time as neutral.

Yes, time is fleeting, a precious commodity, and it should therefore be managed well. However, this group experiences time as a continuum that marks the passing of events.

People in the Yellow Zone appreciate flexibility and having control over their own time. They are intentional about making time for family and recreation, and they pride themselves on on how well they “manage” their schedules.

Because they appreciate, rather than fear, the fleeting sense of time, Yellow Zone people are often energized and focused. They tend to have a great sense of accomplishment at the end of each day.

While they are keen on making time for family and loved ones, they are more focused on time from a task orientation perspective than they are from a relational one. Time with family, for example, may only occur when the work is done.

Responsibility and control are a key element for how people in the Yellow Zone value time.

Major Theme: Time is fleeting. I should manage it well.

In short, the Yellow Zone crowd believes they have control over their time. They pride themselves on the ability to prioritize tasks, and they enjoy a sense of accomplishment at the end of each day.

Notice how the Blue Zone group takes abundance to a slightly different level.

The Blue Zone: High Time Abundance

People who score in the Blue Zone seem to believe that they have enough time to accomplish whatever they want, whenever they want. They view time as precious and go beyond “managing it” to using it wisely.

Wise use of time means that they live from a sense of joy, appreciation, and freedom. They are present in the moment and therefore better able to respond to schedule changes in more spontaneous ways.

Because of this high level of flexibility, the Blue Zone crowd lives a more balanced life. Family activities are not tasks to check off a list. Family is first—not an interruption. There is always time to do the “important things” in life.

Perhaps the biggest differentiator between these two groups is that the Blue Zone crowd has a deep desire to make every moment count. They value time in terms of relationships over task orientation. Making memories is important; they don’t want to be known as workaholics or task masters.

Major Theme: Time is precious. I should use every moment wisely.

It’s too early in the research to tell if this high abundance perspective on time occurs with age and the passing of time or after a life-threatening loss or illness.

Either way, it’s a perspective worth considering in a world held hostage by the increasing demands of cell phones and the expectation of being available on a moment’s notice.

Call to Action

I encourage you to examine your perspective on time. Our daily demands are great. It’s difficult to set boundaries for self, recreation, and family.

If you’d like to know more about your time/money beliefs, I invite you take the Money Meter. It’s free, confidential, and you’ll receive an easy-to-read report that will help you begin to understand how you’re experiencing time and money.

Take the first step in understanding how your think about, experience, and value time. The joy and freedom of abundance is worth the small effort.

Published by Sharon Spano, Ph.D. August 18, 2015