If asked which is the most valuable, many people will say “time.” After all, you can work hard and make more money but you can’t make more time. You have the same 24 hours in a day as everyone else. Since you can make more time, you have to be careful how you use the time given.
Time use falls into three distinct categories: work time, family time and personal time. Your job generally dictates the minimum time that you spend at work. But work time is more than 9-5 at your desk.
It’s also the hour each way that you commute and at least half hour to get ready in the morning. This is all part of your work time. If you are an entrepreneur, then you can set your own work hours.
You may work twelve hours on a project for several days, then sleep late the next day or take a day off. In your situation, work time is more linked to output than to actual hours in an office.
However, you do need to be aware of your work time because without the boundaries of an office day, you might keep working well into the family time which creates other problems.
Family time is what you spend with your mate and/or children. This is more than just brief conversations over dinner or while rushing out the door in the morning. You need to plan time each day to focus on your family.
Maybe not the same amount of time everyday, but real time to talk and listen rather than a few words exchanged while the TV or computer is on. In prior generations, the dinner hour was family time and other people didn’t even call during that time. Now with family schedules so varied, you have to turn off the cell phones and the land phone to avoid interruptions.
Personal time is more than family time - it’s time for yourself. Even dedicated parents or partners need time for their own interests. Perhaps you enjoy golf, tennis, bicycling, scrapbooking, woodworking, gardening or other hobbies.
If you work at a fast paced job, you might really love to have an hour in total quiet to write in your journal or to read. You might give up some of those interests in order to do things with your family, but you are wise not to give up all your personal time. This isn’t being selfish; in fact when you use your personal time, you benefit your family or mate by refreshing your interests and nurturing those talents that are uniquely yours.
The difficulty for most of us is finding the right balance between work time, family time and personal time. Work time can quickly over-run family time and annihilate personal time, particularly if you work for a company that is not family friendly. That may be your cue to look for a job in a company that values your family time and encourages you to engage in your personal interests.
You might be surprised to find that there are major employers who feel that way. There are also many smaller companies, family owned local companies, who still believe in the importance of a balanced life style. No wonder “time” is so important that people in high powered jobs leave for lesser pay but greater flexibility because money won’t buy back time that is lost with their family and friends.