We hear it all the time - life is too short. And we see it too. Time is slippery. Some call it transient or fleeting. It’s all the same. The more we spend it, the less we have, and it’s not like we can choose not to spend it in the first place anyway. This is where the concept of time becomes tough to grasp.

The only hope or wish we can have is that we will spend our time on the things that we care about the most. Time can be thought of best as a commodity. But a really valuable one at that. Because, unlike other commodities, how we spend time matters way more than how much of it we spend. This is one reason why most people end up wondering where their time went; they are focusing on how much of it they spent vs. how they spent it.

The real problem is not that time has passed too quickly - it always does. Rather, it is that on most days, we don’t even know if we are spending it on the right things that matter to us.

Find Happiness In Uniqueness.

The things that matter to you aren’t the same as what matters to someone else. This might sound obvious, but hard to practice in real life. FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) often makes you make decisions in haste that you will regret later in life. It’s important to first understand the things that make you happy (i.e., what your priorities are) before you venture out to make them happen. For some, peak professional success matters way more than family time. Others look for a balance in life and work. Whether it is life, work or health, know your priorities and the proportions they are allowed to consume in your typical day.

Measure Where You’re Spending Your Time.

Once you understand your priorities, stick to them and start quantifying them for the number of hours you believe you should spend on each of them. If health is your priority, make sure you are spending enough hours in the day or week on staying fit. If your priority is family, make sure you are spending quality time with the people that matter to you. Even as you know what your priorities are, it is important that you measure everything and quantify them in terms of hours spent.

Focus On The Now.

Now here comes the toughest part: Focus. When you spend time on the things that matter to you, make sure you do that consciously with focus and consistency. Don’t let your mind wander off thinking about other things that you could do as you are doing something. This will lead you to regret that you didn’t spend quality time doing what you were doing; and that you did one thing when you were hoping to do something else. By focusing on the now, you are giving your best all the time.

Success is peace of mind that is the direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming. - Coach John Wooden

To extend John Wooden’s quote, you can only do your best when you focus on the task at hand with full consciousness and intention; focusing on the now.

Sacrificing Is For Losers.

Stop sacrificing your time for others. Most people waste their time and yours. Remember that your time is yours alone. You should aim to be the CEO of your life and have complete control of it in order to be successful. For that to happen, you should first focus on mastering time, as it is the most critical aspect of your life. If you spend the little time you have to further the interests of other people, you’ll have lesser and lesser time to further your own. Start cutting down on unnecessary meet-ups and discussions that don’t contribute to your well-being or success. Start cutting down on phone calls and everything else that’s distracting you. Don’t sacrifice time.

Qualitatively Track Your Well-being

The most important part of tracking time is not about where it is going but about how good you feel about where it is going. By asking ourselves each day if the time we spent on things was worth it, we continually improve where we actually spend it in the future. As we analyze days, weeks, months, and years of qualitative data on how good we felt about the various aspects of our lives and combine it with the quantitative data on where we spent our time, we get better at understanding what matters to us most. Over time, we re-adjust our priorities and become happier than ever.

A Final Word.

Life’s big questions lie in how happy we feel about our life. Happiness is not a destiny but a pursuit, though. And we can make that pursuit enjoyable when we plan carefully and optimize for the little time we have here on the planet. It’s never too late to continuously strive and become better at managing your time. Tracking where your time is going and how good you feel about it will help you understand if the choices you are making feel worthwhile at the end of each day and week as time passes. Over time, this will stop you from pondering on if life is short and help you live it instead.

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