The above heading looks uninteresting and meaningless, but it actually carries a lot of weight. It refers to the twenty four hours that every human being has on a daily basis. We always hear about how valuable time is. Some people value it even more than money, because they utilise it effectively and efficiently to generate lots of money to live comfortably.
I always hear people say: ‘I don’t have time’. ‘If only I could have a few extra minutes in a day’. ‘If only I could turn the clock back’. ‘If only there were more than twenty four hours’…and the list goes on, and on.
The reality is that there are only twenty four hours in any given day. That’s it. It cannot change. They cannot be increased. But they can be used wisely. And it’s all up to you.
We are so busy living our lives, doing so many things. At the end of the day, we don’t achieve much. In the end, we regret the things we didn’t do and we didn’t accomplish, because we did not have time.
The conclusion I come to is that we don’t apportion our time appropriately to the most important things. That’s reality. What I’m talking about is about ‘living’ and being alive. It’s more than just ‘existing’. I’m talking creating and maintaining balance in our lives.
Why? Your happiness depends on it.
You have only twenty four hours. Out of all that time, you have to look after your health, you must do everything that gives you pleasure, you have to work for your money, you have to invest time in yourself and your family, you also have to rest and sleep, but most importantly, your happiness pretty much depends on it. Yes, your happiness depends very much on how you effectively you use your time.
What can you do?
Take a few minutes from your busy schedule to assess your daily activities and you’ll realise that a lot of time is spent on some or most of those activities, some more than others. If you look at the average employee, you may find that out of eight hours allocated to doing work, only five hours are spent productively. What happens to the other three hours? They are spent on less fruitful activities that get you nowhere. When you get home? Routine, mundane activities, including watching TV, occupy the rest of the evening. The same procedure gets repeated day in, day out.
I read a very interesting book, ‘How to live on 24 hours a day’, by Arnold Bennet, where he shares some nuggets of wisdom (which I have adapted) of how you can live your life within the confines of 24 hours.
Claim your 90 minutes
Out of your busy schedule, claim 90 minutes a day for three days a week, to start with. Those 90 minutes can be claimed in the evening, in the morning, on the train to and from work, or other time that isn’t put to good use. Bennet recommends evenings for most people, but it depends on your schedule and the typical things you have to do.
Use that 90 minutes to improve yourself. Over the course of weeks and months, the knowledge gained in that time will add up to a significant amount of knowledge. Ever heard of the saying ‘knowledge is power’? Read and improve yourself.
Explore other self-improvement opportunities
Of course, literature is not the only means of self-improvement. You can access other reading materials in any format, which can be very beneficial, including learning more about your business, learning about the ’causes and effects’ of things, and learning about history and philosophy. I guess history and philosophy may seem challenging for some people, but it helps to understand the past and how it shapes the present, and defines the future. It also helps to understand philosophy and learn about various perspectives on life.
Bennet doesn’t recommend reading novels for self-improvement. He highly recommends poetry. Do I hear you saying poetry is boring? Think twice, and give yourself an opportunity to read poetry. Or to make it even more exciting, how about attending a poetry session and learn from those who have a passion about it?
We always dedicate weekends and public holidays to activities like shopping, sports, going out to watch movies and many more that are not related to our careers. Nothing wrong with that. But, how much time do we spend on those activities, and what happens to the rest of the time before and after?
Do what’s right for you
Will it not be wise to allocate some of the twenty four hours to activities like exercising, reading (brain exercise) and part-time studying/correspondence? Further studying increases opportunities of promotions or qualifying for higher positions and even gives you the edge to search other companies to advance your career. This can also work for those who are interested in starting and running their own businesses.
Take charge of your life
For those who are neither employed nor self-employed, how do you spend your twenty four hours? Do you only wait for Sunday to buy a newspaper and search for job vacancies? Do you even make a follow-up on your applications? What about spending time thinking about a business idea?
My challenge to you? Invest time in yourself. Read. Empower yourself by engaging with others in meaningful discussions. It can only benefit you. After all, twenty four hours is all you have.
‘Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you’. Carl Sandburg
Research and input by Rethabile Ntho