Time is so precious. It’s never more or less true at any given point in our lives. It is always true and, yet, most of us don’t really seem to realize that until we get into that midpoint of our lives. If we’re lucky, we realize it in our thirties. But, to use that term “midpoint” is silly, too. Who are we to say when the midpoint is of one’s life? The reality is that longevity is a myth. It is not promised. It’s interesting to say, when we see 50-year-old men getting 20-year-old girlfriends and buying sports cars that these men are having a “mid-life crisis” at 50 or a “quarter-life crisis” at 25 because that is to assume we’ll all live to be a 100, and very few people actually do. The future is not promised, which is why every day is so precious. If you’re lucky, you’ll begin to live with that thought prominent in your brain and when you do, you may start making these small shifts in time-management, to make the most of your precious time.
If you’re driving far, you make the most of it
If you’re driving to the other end of town—easily a 45-minute-drive in traffic—you consider what else you can do/whom else you can see when you’re over there. Have a couple of good friends who live there, whom you don’t see enough? You call them up, and ask if you can just pop in to say hello. You won’t let that long commute go to waste.
You’re conscious of driving burnout
As a subsection of the last point, you become very conscious of driving burnout. If someone invites you to do something far away, you look at your calendar, not just to see if you’re available, but also to see if you’re doing a lot of other long drives in the days leading up to or following it. If you are, you politely decline. You can only spend so much of your life behind the wheel.
You plan far in advance
You become an excellent planner. You learn that saying, “We should get together sometime” turns into getting together never. If you really want to see someone, you pull up your calendar, and you suggest several dates, on the spot, and just pick one. You pencil it in. You hold that time. You know that these things rarely just fall into place spontaneously because people are busy—especially if you’re in a relationship, you’re both busy, and you’re trying to plan with other busy couples.
You don’t make time for flaky people
Flaky people get a second chance but that’s about it. They don’t get a third chance. You used to think that, getting upset if someone flaked was to be too hard on her. But now you realize that when people repeatedly flake on you, they’re actually disrespecting your time—your most precious commodity.
But, if you must, you’re smart about it
Now, inevitably, there will have to be some flaky people you maintain contact with, like that one cousin or sibling whose life is a mess and whom you’ve vowed to keep an eye on. So, when you must see this person, you’re smart about it. You invite her to do something you were already doing, either way, so she doesn’t screw up your plans by bailing. Or, you plan something during a timeframe when you know you’d literally have nothing else going on, so you don’t actually move anything around for her.
You take calls on walks and drives
First off, you spend less time just dillydallying on the phone with friends, talking about basically nothing at all. But, when you do want to catch up with a friend or family member via phone, you schedule those calls for times you’ll be driving or walking your dog. That way, you can multitask.
Or, you tidy up while you’re on the phone
If you have nowhere to go while on the phone, you put in some headphones to free up your hands and tidy up around the house.
Or, you hire a housekeeper, because time is money
On the topic of tidying up the house, you may reach a point of finally hiring a housekeeper—especially if you’re freelance. You’ve crunched the numbers and realized that you make more per hour than you’ll pay your housekeeper, so it’s actually fiscally responsible to hire someone else to clean, leaving you that time to do your work. And even if you aren’t working, you can meditate, spend time with a friend, take the dog to the park, or just relax (that’s a good use of time, too).
You have groceries & prescriptions delivered
You may have also crunched the numbers again and realized you’re better off paying the $12 delivery fee to have groceries or prescriptions brought to you than you are taking an hour and change out of your day to drive to the store, pick things out, wait in line, and drive home.
You stock up on odds and ends while shopping
You begin to realize there are tons of things you know you’ll need to buy time and time again, that you often make trips to the store for—exclusively for those things. These are things like birthday cards and dish soap. So when you grocery shop (or, your personal shopper does), you stock up on these items. You know a birthday party will come up again.
You either have fully productive days
Rather than attempting these awkward Frankenstein of days when you try to get a bunch of stuff done and relax somewhere in there, you’ve separated the days. You know that, when you’re already being productive, your momentum is going, and you can get even more done. Your brain is already active and sharp, so you make the most of it by having a fully productive day. If you try to, say, stop for a massage on these days, you don’t fully enjoy it. Your mind is in productivity mode.
Or you have fully relaxing days
You also set aside full days for relaxation. If you have a spa day set aside or a picnic in the park day set aside, you don’t schedule any errands or other obligations on that day. You know you get the most of a relaxing activity by doing just that relaxing thing that day.
You cook enough to have leftovers
Prepping the food and cleaning the cutting board, pots, and pans takes easily 30 minutes each time you make a meal. So, you’ve started to make enough food for multiple meals each time you cook.
If you’re a passenger, you get things done
If you have the luxury of not being the driver—maybe you’re in an Uber or on a train—you make the most of that time by getting work done on your laptop or phone, or, again, making a phone call. When you get to your destination, you want to be fully present, so you’d rather get other tasks out of the way if you’re just sitting in the passenger seat.
You don’t do things just to be nice. Well, barely
You stop doing things you don’t want to do, just to be nice. If someone invites you to their gallery opening, play, or networking event, “Being nice” isn’t a good enough reason to go anymore. The only times you do something to be nice are for people who are really, really important to you and with whom you have meaningful relationships.