“When we consciously think about our actions and how we spend our time, we tend to be more consistent with our priorities. When we are on auto-pilot, we drift from our priorities and towards whatever happens to be most urgent at the moment “
A few months ago, a financial planner gave a guest lecture to students at my university about the importance of smart financial management right out of college. He talked about his own spending habits when he got his first job. As he drove to work for his first day, he stopped along the way for a Starbucks – after all, he had money now, and he deserved a treat. Later that day, his new colleagues took him out to lunch at a local café. What started as one-off decisions quickly became habits.
Eventually, on his way to work, his brain went on autopilot and so he stopped at Starbucks each morning. He never got into the habit of packing a lunch, so most days he went back to the café with a few coworkers, or even by himself.
Eventually, it dawned on him that his paycheck didn’t go as far as he’d thought- because he was spending $15 a day due to his unconscious spending habits (quick math: $15/day x 5 days/week x 50 weeks/year = $3,750). This was more two months’ rent!
He then stated that the way to get out of poor spending habits is turning our unthinking habits back into conscious, intentional choices. Not only did I think this was great advice, I saw the applicability to work-family balance.
I came away from his talk thinking- “When we consciously think about our actions and how we spend our time, we tend to be more consistent with our priorities. When we are on auto-pilot, we drift from our priorities towards whatever happens to be most urgent at the moment.”
So, my challenge to all my fellow working dads- and myself- is to make more intentional choices on how we spend out time. If we think about our use of time, I bet we’d be more efficient at work and more present while home.
For me, this means:
- If I go to a website to look something up, I will only go to that website and not let one link lead to another, to another, to another
- If I go to facebook, it will only be for quick 15 minute check-ins, and not become 2 hours of political arguments
- If I watch TV, I’ll watch an episode of one of “my shows” on my DVR or Netflix, and not just flip around channels mindlessly
- I will only check emails from my smartphone no more than twice a day
- When I’m at work, I’ll get right to work, instead of reading the news online for 20 minutes
What would more conscious decisions about your time mean for you? Let’s discuss in the comments section.
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