508 BCE

Time

Time is the most precious commodity. And time is easy to forget about and deprioritize.

Why is time the most precious commodity? A moment of time only comes once. You have many choices in how you spend that moment, and many activities and companies competing to fill that open slot of time. Once that moment is spent, it is forever gone. There is no going back.

Because the arrow of time only flows one way, the bar we hold ourselves to with respect to how we spend this time should be high. But often — at least for me — it is not.

I find that it’s easy to default to doing things that are easy or have little meaning. Things like browsing Reddit, or watching YouTube videos mindlessly. These habits creep in and take hold like weeds in the unkept yard of my time. Things worth doing — the hard things and the things that will make me a better person — are easy to set aside, forget about, or avoid.

These easy uses of time — especially the apps — make it trivial to spend time on them. After all, the performance of these apps is measured in the efficient onboarding and continued retention of user time. But one thing these apps are not mindfully designed to do is to make my life better and to optimize my time.

The app maker’s incentives in how to shape my behavior do not align with my desires. They want to make money. I want to live a fulfilling life where I engage in meaningful activities with people I care about. This misalignment of goals is bad, but luckily I have the ultimate say in whether or not I engage my time in a particular behavior.

I choose to be purposeful. I choose to be mindful of what I spend my time on. And more importantly, I choose to be mindful of what I shouldn’t devote my time on. Otherwise I’ll never do the things that are most important to me.

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