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17. time debts & time assets

Category: job

I have been thinking a lot about the idea of time debts and time assets. Is what I am doing now going to save me time in the future or cost me time in the future? I first read this idea from somewhere else and someone else so I definitely don’t want to take all of the credit, but it is an idea that I am so grateful to have learned and used in my life.

When I wake up in the morning, I always make my bed. I’m not really sure why I do that, I read somewhere that it helps set yourself up to accomplishment in the day because you have already completed a “micro-achievement” or just the simple task of completing something or having control over something as insignificant as your bed, gives you a mindset that you are in control of your life. You have agency. I also remember reading (from where ever that was), that evening-you will thank morning-you for making the bed because it will be a more enjoyable experience at night to tuck back nice crisp and fluffy covers to retire into.

Evening-you? A future you?

When I was in high school, I had a constant motivation – do now the things that future-me would be grateful for. Study hard, do that internship and extracurricular, and push off gratification – plant the seeds so that future-me could enjoy the harvest. Being present-me (which is essentially future-me and past-me at the same time), I am so grateful for the decisions I’ve made earlier in my life, from my teens in high school, to early twenties in college, to even just yesterday or from this morning. Thanks 6pm me that decided to do the dishes so 7:45pm me doesn’t have to!

Whenever I do something, I try to think in terms of time debts and time assets. If I have to do something for myself – such as cleaning or organizing or something else, I try to do it immediately and thoroughly. I try to complete the task and check it off. If I can’t check it off, I know I have to make the decision on whether I keep it on the list (mental load) or completely forgo it altogether (eliminate).

If I don’t finish my dishes now, I will have created a time debt to have to do them later. If I decide to push off laundry because I want a free Friday afternoon for myself, then I am making the tradeoff of having 2 hours dedicated to waiting for the load to finish on the weekend. If I don’t do this now completely and sufficiently and intelligently… I’ll have to make up for it later.

It’s like getting a little stain on your shirt. If you soak the shirt now, you won’t have to scrub (i.e work so hard) later to get it out.

At work, when I make the decision that something needs to get done, I try to do so thoroughly and in a way that if it needs to be repeated, it can be with minimal effort.

Front load the work to minimize the time debt…. and if possible to create a time asset!

I’ve automated my savings before, created recurring lunch meetings in my calendar to give myself rests/breaks in the work day. These little actions are fueled by foresight and my life has reaped those rewards.

What is some things you are doing that result in time debts? In what ways are things that you do helping to create time assets?

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