Time a zero sum game

The problem with Time

Many people have problem with time. When we think of stuff I would like to do, see, experience etc we end up with a sigh and consternation – there is not enough time. How could we possibly fit all those things in to this week or day. It just not possible.

We are all equal.

Looking at various successful people on the web, in the news etc. I couldn’t stop thinking how do they do it. Where do they get the time? But the thing is we are equal, everyone of us has the same 24h a day, 168 hours a week. These amounts are fixed, you can’t add anything to them can’t subtract. There are no people with extra hours in their days. In order to make the most out of the time you need to learn how to play with time.

The Game

Have you ever heard of zero sum game? This is the game where winner takes all. If I win I take the prize if you win you take the prize. Simple as that. Now apply this concept to managing time. You can fill your time with ‘x’ amount of activities up to 24h mark. Once you reach that limit you need to trade. Want to add any new activity then you need to remove one of an equal size.

For example if you want to sleep until 9am you need to make sure you haven’t scheduled anything for that time.

If your follow Merlin Mann’s talks (page15) he refers to a similar concept by Joel Spolsky. The metaphor is a giant box which represents single day. You can fill this box with anything you want but once you reach the limit that’s it. If you want to add anything else you need to first remove one thing and than add another.

Regardless of tricks you might use to play the time your end result will always be the same. Double-booking, multitasking are just old tricks that don’t really work. You can get away with them for a while but eventually they will bite you.

Play by the rules

To make the most out of your time you need to accept the rules. And these rules are very simple it’s actually just one rule.

To put one thing in your calendar you need to make sure your have still enough time or you need to take something out.

That’s it, only one single choice. Whether that choice is spending time with family, working some extra hours, going for a run or whatever, it’s still a choice. There may not be equal weight in each of the items. For different people the weights might be different but we all work from the same base of 24h. 

That 24h is yours, you own it, so use it well.

Now knowing this would you change the way you interact with your time? Would you do differently?

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