A Thousand a Day (#669)

Around the time that Charlie Sheen was starring in the movie Platoon, I read an interview where he said that his accountant had put him on a budget of $1000 a day. While he apparently struggled to stay within his limits, I remember thinking what a phenomenal amount of money that would be if I could really spend it on whatever I wanted.

Recently, it occurred to me that we are all a little bit more like Charlie Sheen than we might like to imagine (no offense to Charlie!), in that:

Every single day day we are given approximately a thousand minutes to spend on whatever we want.
(This is based on the fact that there are 1,440 minutes in a day, 420 to 480 of which we tend to spend sleeping.)

In fact, the main difference that I can find between having a thousand dollars a day or a thousand minutes a day to spend is that unlike money:

You can always only spend ONE minute at a time.
Here are a few thoughts on how to make the most of your minutes:

1. Don’t save – spend!

Unlike money (and some cellphone plans), you don’t get to save up the unused minutes from today to spend tomorrow. So rather than spend too many minutes trying to save time, spend just enough minutes planning to ensure you spend the rest of today’s time wisely.

2. Balance consumption with production

Our time is always spent engaged in one of three ways:

  • Active input, or consumption – reading, watching TV, listening to music or information, being entertained
  • Active output, or production – working, exercising, speaking, selling, writing, creating
  • Passive input/output – resting, meditating, being

While some days will inevitably be more about taking stuff in then getting stuff out (or vice-versa), cultivating a balance will keep your energy and enthusiasm for life in a state of easy flow.

3. Give some away to others

While pretty much everybody you meet today will have started with a similar “time balance” as you, there are days where all of us need a little extra support. Here’s a simple rule of thumb:

Every minute you spend making a difference in the life of another human being comes back to you multiplied!

4. Don’t spend it all in one place

Variety isn’t just the spice of life – according to Dr. Greg Berns it’s a prerequisite for fulfillment, growth and a sense of true satisfaction. Consider spending some of your minutes today on something you’ve never done before – going somewhere you’ve never gone, reading something you’ve never read, or even talking with someone you would never normally talk with.

Surprise yourself – it’s one of the easiest ways there is to have fun and learn heaps!

5. Make each minute more valuable

As you probably already know from your own experience, all minutes are not created equal. But what is not so obvious is that what we get back from each minute we spend is not so much a function of where, what, or who we spend it on but rather of how we spend it.

A theater director I once worked with asked the company if they would prefer to have “tentative sex” or “fully engaged sex”. While “fully engaged” was the unanimous answer, he pointed out that unless you are used to fully engaging in any moment with whatever you are doing, it can be difficult to turn it on or off.

So that’s today’s experiment – to spend your minutes today in a committed fashion, as if each one was being spent on the most important, valuable thing you could possibly be doing with your time. Dance like there’s nobody watching, work like you don’t need the money, and live as if your life depended on it!

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Understanding Scarcity (#757)

Economics is a vast and complex field, but in some ways it can be reduced down to one simple principle:

The scarcer the resource, the more we are willing to give up in order to get it;
the more common the resource, the less we are willing to give up in order to get it.