Classic “Money Rules” Applied to TIME

FIRE is not a single point in time. It’s a lifestyle. If you follow a basic set of money rules it will lead to a financially successful life.

The same thing can be said about TIME. To me, 5am is not a single point in time, or a number on a clock face. It’s a lifestyle. Similar to FIRE, following a simple set of time rules will lead to a satisfying and life well spent.

I’ve written before about how the Pay Yourself First rule is similar to getting up early each day. (I pay the first few hours of every day to ME, not others – more here). It doesn’t matter if it’s 5am, 6am or 7… Paying yourself first each morning ensures you never lose out on personal time.

So this got me thinking…. What other classic money rules can we apply to TIME?


Applying “Money Rules” to TIME


Money Rule: Equivalent TIME Rule:
Track your spending Track your time
Create a budget → follow it! Create a to-do or goal list → follow it!
Always max out your 401k Always max out your vacation time
Don’t buy shit you don’t need Don’t waste time on dumb stuff
Donate to charity / Tithe Volunteer and give time to others
Diversify, diversify, diversify! Always try new experiences!
Invest early, invest often Don’t wait. Do stuff while you’re young
You can’t predict a market crash, it could be tomorrow. You can’t predict when you’re gonna die, it could be tomorrow!


Tracking Your Time:

Just like your finances… Create a nerdy spreadsheet and track what you do each hour of the day. Start by gathering a full month of data, and tally up the results. If you’ve never done this before, I promise you the results will be sobering!

Next, compare all of your hours spent with your priorities in life.

How much time do you spend driving each week? How much time do you spend watching TV and movies? What about time spent browsing social media?

Is there a way you can cut down on the activities that don’t add real value to your life? Perhaps you can re-allocate chunks of useless hours to more meaningful activities.


Always Max Out Your P.T.O. and Vacation Benefits

Have you ever heard someone bragging about being a workaholic and how they never take any vacation time? To me, they sound just as dumb as a person who says they don’t invest in their company’s 401(k) plan.

Employers put benefits in place so that you can use them! They want you to (and are paying you to) invest in personal experiences, invest in your family, invest in travel, and invest in your own happiness outside of work. PTO is time you can’t get back. Use it!

When you’re on your deathbed, will you be bragging about how hard you worked and how you never took a vacation?… Nope – it’ll likely be the opposite. The #2 regret of dying people is: “I wish I hadn’t worked so hard “.


You Need a Budget = You Need a To-Do List:

Experts say there are about 60,000 thoughts that go in/out of our heads every single day.

If we write 1 of them down, it sends a tiny alert ⚠️ up to our brain that says “this 1 thought is more important than the other 59,999!”.

To-do lists and written goals are more likely to be achieved than invisible thoughts. It’s not a made up saying, it’s a fact. Just like budgets that are created and reviewed constantly are more likely to lead to financial success.


Consumer Mentality and Procrastination:

Most people spend money on things they don’t really need. Fancy stuff might give them instant gratification, but more often than not it burdens them in the long run.

Same with wasting time. Most impulse activities may feel good immediately, but aren’t counting towards meaningful results and memories in life. Everyone does it. We all “waste” time in one way or another.

Procrastination is kind of like impulse spending. Too much social media or TV is like impulse spending. Feels great when we do it… but it only delays our greatness in other meaningful areas of life.


Diversify = Variety is the Spice of Life!

Try anything and everything you can. Say yes to as many new experiences and opportunities that open up to you. Live life to the fullest!

Time Rules - try everything!


“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain


Volunteer Once in a While:

Growing up, my parents taught me to give 10% of my income to charity. While the amount I give has varied from year to year, I’ve never stopped donating and sharing my wealth.

But until earlier this year, I never volunteered or donated my time. It was always easier to just give money away. So, this summer I signed up for a local Meals on Wheels organization in Los Angeles. I only volunteer 1 day a week, and it’s been an interesting experience. I wrote a few stories here if you’re interested.

Volunteering has made me happier, more appreciative of what I have in life, and I get to witness the immediate effect it has on fellow humans.


Protect and Respect for Other People’s Time:

Would you steal $10 out of someone’s wallet if they weren’t watching? Of course you wouldn’t. Because thieving is selfish and you wouldn’t want someone to steal money from you.

What about stealing time? It’s only fair to respect other people’s time as much as you protect and respect your own. Some ancient cultures believe that “time is life”. When you disrespect or waste someone’s time, you are essentially stealing some of their life.


“Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of.”
– Ben Franklin


Rules Are More Like Guidelines:

Nobody is a perfect investor, just as nobody is a perfect time manager. As I wrote this post I reflected and realize I violate most of these time and money rules – frequently! I guess all I can do is keep learning from my past mistakes and always try my best going forward.

What time management rules do you follow? Please share them with me!


10 thoughts on “Classic “Money Rules” Applied to TIME

  • Great post Joel! For me, the to do list nails it. When I get in that bored/lazy mode if I don’t have something reminding me of the things I want/need to get done, I can easily cave into a multitude of time-wasters and it’s like a carb-loaded day for me; I feel heavy, fatigued, and worn out…even though I’ve done nothing. Not only do I have my 100 things list from J Money for longer term to do items I can always plan around, I also have a daily to do list. It contains a column for personal to-do’s, work to-do’s, and a third to take notes throughout the day of random things I think of. Before I started this, I would have all kinds of “I should do…” thoughts but then I would forget what they were. This helps me remember these ideas and while some may end up being scratched because they aren’t actually that important when I go back and consider them, it allows me to make that conscious decision. Sometimes, a day with a book in front of the fireplace carries way more value than a day scratching 20 things off a list but I gain that value when it’s a choice I make vs a void to fill because I don’t want to get my ass out of bed. 🙂

    • Love it! I (try to) prioritize my to do list so if I start from the top down, even if I only cross a few off they are heavy hitters for the day.

      Another thing I’ve tried but haven’t stayed consistent on is creating a Not-to-do list for the day. Writing all the things I should NOT do eg. watching shit on YouTube and other procrastination activities I fall into. That was cool when I tried it a few times.

  • I have been “investing” my time with a “sched”. A to-do list or grid which is actually a “sequencer”: first I make a list (or I might not, making the grid first), then I sequence the tasks, household or work, depending on their difficulty/feasibility rating. I have been doing this over the past decade. I share it with other people. It doesn’t always work, but is handy for late starts, especially when I need to get from rising to going somewhere in all of 10 minutes, or just have difficulty staying on target.

    • That’s awesome Elaine. My daily to-do list is sometimes in a grid format too. Separating tasks by priority in different boxes. Love how you share it with others!

  • I’m glad I’m not the only one who wondered why more people don’t time budget as well as money budget! 🙂 Of course, the irony of my own statement is that while I’m intense about saving AND spending money fiercely (I know what I want and do everything in my power to go for it – legally and morally, of course! :)), I have like the exact opposite approach to my time. I’ve always made time for myself every day, but too often that’s ALL I spend my time on! I do have a job, so that at least requires some of my time in a meaningful way, but beyond that, I tend to downplay/sabotage any other efforts I make on spending my time wisely. But it’s more than just my attitude towards time; I think it’s because I respect commitments I make to others, but don’t respect myself the same way. Got any advice for how I can learn to see myself as a leader of myself that I need to respect too?

    • I wish I had all the answers! The truth is I’m still learning about this stuff too. Every time I think I’ve made a breakthrough, I completely waste hours or days somehow and fall on my face again. It’s a constant struggle to make the most of my time.

      But there are a couple of things that always prove good: 1, getting up early. 2, writing a short to-do list. Sounds so simple, but has the biggest positive effect for me.

Comments are closed.