Banking time

At age eight, I start saving my star money. I strode down to the Third National Bank of Scranton, and with the help of my father, opened my first savings account, bankbook and all. And this, the opening of my first anything with my own name on it, I did with all the pride a four-foot human could have. It was my first foray into saving.

Earning was a value we kids were taught early on. Our refrigerator — plastered with a hand-crafted spreadsheet of all the chores in the house that could be completed for a nickel, dime, or quarter — was opportunity waiting to happen. And when that opportunity was completed and marked with a star, we saved.

While we’re taught the value of saving money, we’re never really taught the value of saving time. Not saving time so we are more efficient elsewhere, but actually banking time. Saving it for later.

This past week, as Harold Pollack’s index card rightly gains visibility, I’d like to propose some quick parallels for investing time:

Max out your vacation days.
If you work for a company, force yourself to take the maximum allotted days. If you work for yourself, take at least five days for every year you’ve been working, within reason.

Keep 10-20% of your day, every day, free.
Don’t schedule 10-20% of your time at all. Leave yourself open for the unexpected.

Schedule make-up events on a monthly basis.
Set aside time to reschedule every lunch, dinner, or friend/family date you had to reschedule earlier that month because of professional obligations.

Pay attention to recurring meetings.
Avoid recurring meetings where you have little role. Attend them sparingly and purposefully, rather than consistently.

Promote your time off.
Instead of celebrating how many hours you worked in a day or how many years you’ve gone without a “proper vacation,” place value on your time off. Use it in such a way that it not only refreshes you, but you’re proud of it.

We don’t always have the luxury of putting time away. Yet if we observe it as an asset — save-able, invest-able, and appreciable — in time, we get to appreciate it back.