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Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans.
-- John Lennon


The MONTHLY Motivator - April 2003

An investment guide for your time

Each and every moment, you make an investment. Sometimes that investment pays incredibly high returns. Other times it is completely wasted. The thing you are constantly investing is your time. It is certainly one of the most precious things you have. Once you’ve invested it, there is no going back. Time is an investment from which you can never withdraw your original capital. What you get are the dividends, so it is essential that your time be invested wisely and effectively to bring the highest and best return.

When money is wisely invested, it brings a valuable return. The same goes for time. You can spend your time or you can invest it. If you simply spend it, it is gone forever and you have nothing to show for it. When you treat your time as an investment, you’ll be able to compound its value, adding quality and substance to your own life and the lives of others.

This month we will look at time as an investment. Just as with a financial investment, the goal of investing your time is to maximize the return for the amount invested.

Thinking of time as an investment

We have always known that time is limited, with only a finite amount in each day, each month, each lifetime. Yet the ready availability and the universal nature of time often make it seem like an unlimited resource. Even though there are only 24 hours in each day, we get a whole new day every 24 hours. Time continues to come to us whether we waste it or invest it.

Still, time is the domain in which we accomplish things, and the most worthwhile accomplishments usually require the intentional, systematic investment of a substantial amount of time. To live a life of fulfillment, it is important to wisely invest the moments that make up that life in the service of that fulfillment.

Too often we fail to consider the time component of our decisions, actions or commitments. Too often we allow other people to steal time from us simply because we neglect to realize the value of that time. If a stranger walked up to you at the airport and asked for 20 dollars, you would probably just walk away. But if you call to make travel reservations and are put on hold for 15 minutes, you are essentially giving away your time, something that is truly more precious than money.

That’s not to say that you should hoard your time. In fact, you cannot hoard it. You can only use it as it comes, and within that context, the degree to which you use it wisely is ultimately up to you. The point is to be aware of your time, and of its value. Use it for a reason. Decide how it will be invested. Treat it as the scarce and valuable resource that it is.

Everyone who has ever achieved anything has done so by investing time in that achievement. Each day, you have just as much time as anyone else. You have the same 24 hours that the most successful, accomplished people have. Invest that time intelligently and your returns can be just as astounding as theirs have been.

Investing your time wisely for maximum return

So how do you invest your time in order to get the most out of it? Much of that will depend, of course, on what you wish to accomplish. Yet there are some areas in which the investment of time will pay dividends no matter what your particular purpose or goals may be.


Learning is an extremely valuable way to invest your time. Not only does learning provide you with useful information, it also sharpens your mind. The more you learn, the better you’re able to think and to reason. Learning builds upon itself. Each new thing you learn increases the value of what you have learned before.

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--Ralph Marston

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