It’s way too late for me to be writing right now, but I’ve been itching to get this out. Funny how it always works out like that, right?
Something that has been on my mind recently has been the value of time.
As I’ve gotten older, I value my time more and more. I have recognized the importance of being selfish, when I’m able to be, in terms of my time. I feel very strongly that each second of the day cannot be wasted. Each moment is precious. I am realizing that I won’t get old moments back, and that life is too short to waste any present ones. This is something I realized in a big way when I got extremely sick a few years ago, and I think about it over and over again now that I’m so busy.
Somehow, I have more going on than I ever have before. I have always been a busy person, but I’ve never had as much on my plate as I do right now. I love everything I’m doing, but I do feel overwhelmed sometimes. I feel like my life is go-go-go from the moment I open my eyes to the second my head hits the sheets, and sometimes even after that.
My “me” time is very limited, so I value it a lot. I’m an introvert, and I recharge in my alone time. I need my alone time. However, I also do need time with my close friends. I feel bad that I’m busy so often, because I want to be able to dedicate enough time to them and to myself. However, recently I’ve been feeling like there’s not always enough time in a day to do that, let alone to get all of my actual “work” done.
This is a struggle that so many people can relate to. It’s something that so many of us battle internally, because we are all fighting for moments. Just a moment to breathe, to relax. I wish I had a night where I could just kick my feet up and watch a movie, nothing else to do. When someone says, “I’m bored,” I truly don’t know what that means. I can’t imagine being bored. I wish I had a day where nothing was scheduled. That hasn’t come, though, and so many of us struggle with that.
As I have come to value my own time more and more, I’ve realized how much other people do not respect other people’s time. I’ve noticed this in both business and my personal life.
When it comes to business, it shocks me how many people waste each other’s time and don’t care. For example, why are we wasting time emailing back and forth when this could be solved with a five minute phone call? On the other hand, why are you trying to schedule a phone call with me when there is nothing to discuss? I cannot explain to you how frustrated I get when people badger me for a phone call, it takes a million emails back and forth to nail one down, and then I get on the phone with them and they truly have nothing more to say than what they already told me over email. Time. Wasted. Precious time.
Then there’s the coordination of an actual time for phone calls. This seems to somehow always be one sided. Why is it that the other person expects you to work around their schedule, but they somehow forget that you might have a schedule as well? On the other hand, maybe there are just times when I don’t want to schedule phone calls. In order to increase my productivity, I like to keep calls to a certain window throughout the day. That’s my choice in how I spend my time. So when someone gets upset that I won’t take a work call on a Sunday or on a weeknight at 8 P.M….. I’m not sure what to tell you. It’s my time.
It’s the same with meetings, but actually even worse. Because physically going somewhere takes more time. And beyond that, I have to address the cancellations. I understand that people need to cancel things, but I cannot understand when something gets cancelled multiple times at the last minute and the person who is doing the last minute canceling is unapologetic and expects everyone else to reschedule based around the canceller’s schedule. Doesn’t work for me.
Back to emails – I could honestly go on for hours about email etiquette and how people try to waste my time with emails. Another example – there is nothing I despise more than a subject line “URGENT – TIME SENSITIVE – NEED TO ANSWER NOW.” That subject presupposes that my time is best spent reading an email that someone else deems to be more important than anything else in my life. I don’t like that people make that assumption. More often that not, the email is something that I absolutely should not be spending time reading, to begin with. Even if they don’t have that tacky subject line, there is nothing that frustrates me more than receiving an email from a company asking me to promote a product filled with sugar and garbage. Have you seen my blog? Or from someone asking me to teach them how to build a business. Who, exactly, do you think I am?!
This filters into social media as well, and it is why recently I have become extremely frustrated. The expectations that some people put onto others isn’t fair. For example, everyone on social media is choosing, out of the kindness of their hearts, to put out content. They are using their precious time to do so. They are using their time to answer comments, create photos, answer DMs, and so on. That’s time they could probably be doing something to make actual money, or living real life. You know, talking to people in person. Or maybe even taking time to themselves. Or doing schoolwork, reading a book, spending time with family. Anything. SLEEPING, perhaps!
Keeping up with social media, commenting on photos, answering DMs, posting… it all takes time. Time that the large majority is not paid for. (Or if they are, it’s usually not enough.) For people to get upset that others aren’t doing enough is unfair to everyone. When I get a DM from someone and then 5 more from the same person in twenty minutes, and that person is getting upset with me for not responding quickly enough, I no longer want to respond to that person at all. Responding to messages takes me time and effort, and sometimes I wait until I have a clear mental space to sit down and write a response. I also am not obligated to answer any questions, especially when they can be answered by Google. Although it might be fun to live a life where I just sit on my bed and answer messages all day, that is not the life I lead. I squeeze in responses as often as I can, and I love to interact when I’m able to. But when certain people take advantage of the time I do spend on social media reaching out to others, it starts to make me feel… not so good. I don’t like feeling unappreciated or taken advantage of, and nobody should.
I see it happening with a lot of bloggers, and the line is tricky. It’s hard when you don’t know what it’s like from another person’s perspective. To be honest, I’m sad I don’t have the time to blog every single day. I do my absolute best to post as often as I can, but I have two full-time jobs and am also back in school. I also have a blog and a podcast and have to take time in my everyday life to run errands and cook food and get dressed and shower and be a normal person. Or I try, at least. So when I spend hours writing detailed blog posts and someone asks me a question that I address in the first sentence of the post, I once again feel like my time is being disrespected.
Maybe not everyone feels that way, but I do. I spend so much time writing posts and trying to be as thorough as I can. I pour my heart and soul into everything I do. I also spend a lot of hours of my day answering comments and messages and emails. So do thousands of other people every day.
Some of my teachers used to say, “There’s no such thing as a stupid question.” However, I had one teacher, Mr. Turkis, who said, “Students, there is such thing as a stupid question. Don’t ask it.” Sadly, I agree with Mr. Turkis.
I know other people get frustrated with this, too, so I’m just going to put it out there. If someone tags where they are, describes what they’re eating, and says how they made something, then I think it’s a problem when someone comments, “Where are you? How did you make that? What are you eating?” That person could easily read the caption. The caption that the person initially spent their precious time curating. When I write a 3000 word blog post detailing something, and then get 30 DMs asking me the question the post addresses, I’m going to tell you to read my post. If someone doesn’t want to read my post, then they don’t truly want the information. Or when I say, “Just made ____! The recipe is on my blog!” and some replies, “Recipe?”… I truly have no words. I posted it to my blog already. I’m not typing it out again.
It’s disrespectful to someone’s time when someone else thinks they are entitled to that time. Nobody is put on this earth to answer all of your questions and solve all of your problems the second you want it, for free, when it is very time consuming. Hate to be blunt, but it’s the truth! Especially in the age of Google and the Internet. You have most of the answers at your fingertips. For example, when someone asks me to send them the link to something, all I can think is, It would take you less time to google this yourself than it is going to take me to google it and then send it to you. Does this mean you should NEVER ask a question?! Absolutely not. Questions are the best. They’re how you get smarter. But I think people should make an honest effort to find the answer to their question on their own and use their resources before asking someone else to take the time out of their, probably already extremely busy, day to do it for them. You can do it!
The last thing I need to touch on are real life, social interactions. Or getting to those interactions. For example, I can’t tell you how many people ask me to meet up with them. While the sentiment is nice and I wish I could meet up with everyone, I don’t have the time in a day to do that. I barely see my friends and I have probably 5 minutes a day to myself, so I don’t have that much time for casual meetups whenever I want. If there is a purpose and I happen to be free, I’d love to make it happen. However, if someone just wants to meet up for fun and then gets upset when I tell them I am busy, it doesn’t make me want to make that time for them to begin with. Meeting up with people requires someone to take valuable time out of their day and lose time doing something else in order to do that. Would you rather spend time with a random person who wants to meet up and then tries to make you feel guilty when you don’t have time, or your best friend who you’ve been neglecting for weeks and who fuels your soul when you see her? In a world with limited time, we deserve to make the choices that best serve us. We don’t owe anybody our time. They are lucky to receive it.
I struggle with this with the people in my life. Because I have an “unconventional” job, make my own hours, and work from home a lot, I’ve found that people use that as an excuse to think I have a ton of free time. The truth is, I feel like it’s the opposite. I never really “turn off” from work. I’m trying to make an effort to do that, but it’s a battle. I’m “working” during all of my waking hours, and I will schedule in time to not work if something comes up. If a close friend wants to get together one night, I’ll schedule that in, for example.
Let me tell you how a lot of conversations go.
“Hey, let’s hang out right now.” or “Let’s hang out tonight.”
“Sorry, I can’t, I’m working.”
“Don’t you work from home? Just do it later.”
This. Grinds. My. Gears.
Just because I work from home doesn’t mean I’m not on a schedule. I have calls and meetings scheduled throughout the day. I work my ass off. My time isn’t just at other people’s disposal. That being said, what really bothers me is when I get this.
“You always say you’re busy. You never have time for me. There’s no way you’re actually that busy.”
Oh, the guilt trip.
The guilt trip works. Oh, boy, does it work. It works to make me feel like shit and worse than I already do. I don’t like having to make sacrifices when it comes to my personal life, and I don’t need someone reminding me that I’m letting them down. All the guilt trip does is makes me not want to see that person at all. Why would I spend time around someone who makes me feel bad for not doing what they want when they want it?
For a long time, I caved when it came to the guilt trip. I felt guilty, so I would rearrange my schedule or sacrifice something else higher on my priority list in order to accommodate that person. However, I quickly learned it was all too often that other people would take advantage of that. For example, I might cancel my schedule for the night to spend time with that person in order to appease them, only for them to cancel on me ten minutes before or to just give me the response, “Okay great! I’ll let you know later!” and then tell me last-minute they were actually too busy. Then why did you guilt me in the first place?! To put it bluntly, I always felt screwed over and resentful when this happened, because I was left having cancelled my initial plans for no reason. I plan my days in order to maximize my time and efficiency. When someone else doesn’t respect that, it leaves me upset and stressed out.
Obviously, things happen. Sometimes we don’t know our schedules, sometimes things come up and we have to cancel – no big deal. But it really all is in the attitude of how things happen. When someone tries to guilt you, bails on you, and then doesn’t seem to care at all, that’s not okay. When they’re apologetic and understanding, it’s a different story. I’ve learned not to give into the guilt trip anymore, but it saddens me that people take advantage of others’ time like that in the first place.
This is the thing – we all have schedules. We are all busy. But the problem is, 99% of the world is incredibly self-centered. I wish it wasn’t that way, but it’s true. And it’s hard for us to remember that other people are dealing with the same things. The same way you have a schedule and a busy life, so does the person you’re trying to coordinate with. Or maybe you’re not a busy person – you lucky dog. That doesn’t mean that everyone around you also has that luxury. It’s not fair for people to ask for someone else’s time at the last-minute and expect the person to accommodate them, no questions asked. I know it’s a shocker, but some people plan ahead, and some people have a lot going on in their day.
My point is, everyone’s time is valuable. And we need to respect that people’s time is valuable, and that they have the right to use it how they deem fit. It’s no one else’s job to judge how you spend your time. Sorry if it hurts someone’s feelings, but maybe that person you’ve never met doesn’t want to meet up for coffee because they have been working nonstop and have one hour to themselves for one night and really just want to sit down and close their eyes for a second. As I’m writing this, someone is texting me telling me that “I’m always too busy and never prioritize them” in response to me saying I couldn’t hang out with them over the weekend because I’m moving apartments and my family is coming down from the Bay Area. After a triple text asking why I wasn’t replying quickly enough. I was in the shower. So sorry.
It’s an honor that people want my time. Truly, an honor. And I am more than happy to give my time to the people who treat that time as valuable, and respect the way I want to spend it. However, I will not give my time to people who expect me to give it to them whenever they want it and for whatever they want it for. My time is precious to me. Every second counts. I have a schedule, and priorities, and sometimes my priorities are not going to align with everyone else’s. That’s okay, and that’s part of life. I do not expect you to adjust your life to align with my priorities – I can assure you of that! I get it. I expect the same in return, and I don’t think that’s too much to ask.
The demands of life can be really overwhelming. It’s easy to feel like there’s not enough time in a day, which is why it is so frustrating when we feel like our time isn’t respected. To be honest, I really just needed to get this off of my chest. It saddens me to see the way people treat others’ time. I just think we should all think a little harder about how we respond to each other and what we are truly asking of others. Sometimes we don’t even notice the pressures we put on other people. We’re only human. I simply ask that we all make a little bit more of a conscious effort to remember – everyone’s time is valuable. We all deserve respect.