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Rule of 168: Time is infinitely finite.

As an abstract concept, time is infinite. As a practical matter we all have a finite amount of it. Regardless of our efforts, none of us can add time to a day. We can only address how we spend our time, not if we spend our time.

Spatial interest has been in the human condition possibly forever. It wasn't until technological and societal advances designed a need for a more precise and collective way to discuss time. Time has since become a focus of US society. Right now, count up how many methods you have to tell you the time. Probably one on the device where you're reading this, possibly one on your wrist, and if you're indoors, it's possible you can simply look around the room and find a clock. But how often do we really think about time?

Time and Schedules

"I don't have time for that."

"I can make time to get that done tomorrow."

"We made good time on our drive."

When coordinating a schedule, we actively slice up each day into portions such as hour, half hour, quarter hour and even minute. For what? To make sure the time we are spending is spent getting tasks accomplished. Not a terrible idea, but it can certainly go awry.

Time and Competition

Most traditional sports have a time element of competition. A number of minutes within which you or your team is trying to best your opponent; who is trying to do the exact same thing to you or your team. Sometimes when an individual on the losing end of the contest is interviewed they say they just "...ran out of time at the end," or something similar. Well, that's the point of a contest bounded by time. If their performance had been better earlier, perhaps the focus wouldn't be on the time element, but their superior skills in competition.

Time and Budgeting


We all have 168 hours during one week of the Gregorian calendar. No more.

I have colleagues who are very excited to share with me that they are going to begin a new academic program to earn their Master's degree. I tell them, "Congratulations, that's a great idea!" Then I quickly follow-up with, "What are you going to give up to ensure your success?"

My goal is not to dissuade them from education - far from it. My goal is to help them proactively decide how their life might look a little different once they start going to class and doing homework; particularly if they haven't done so for a while. Should they give up watching movies and playing video games? Probably not completely, but probably some.

How to add something to one's budget is up to them just as "making room" or eliminating something is their decision. The important part is deciding that to add commitments means subtracting other commitments; or perhaps agreeing that there was more leisure time in the scheduled than previously acknowledged.

Use Your Time to Plan Your Time


Make a time budget, today. Call it a schedule if that makes you more comfortable, but make sure you understand how your time is spent. This is not about being "more productive." This is about knowing that your time is allocated in ways you prefer that are best for you. If you know you need downtime after work or school, schedule it. There's no shame in taking time for reflection and just being. If you feel you don't have time to understand where your time goes, then you may be in a perfect place to better understand your 168.

If this was money, would you say, "I'm spending all of my money too quickly, there's no way I can make a budget." This seems silly but is no more so than fully understanding your allocation of a non-renewable resource.

In a culture that openly advertises smartphone apps as "time killers" it seems that most of us could benefit from being more clear about our 168.

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