Time Billionaires

Time is our most precious commodity. Regardless of inequities in life, each day we have equality—exactly the same amount of time allotted to all. 24 hours. 1,440 minutes. 86,400 seconds.

In many ways, it’s not about the amount of time we have. It’s how we use our time. Time being the ultimate tool; a finite and non-renewable resource.

I’m short of time today (so to speak). I have little time to deliver a meaningful piece, and by meaningful, I mean something of value that folks following The Kill Zone can take away. So, I’m writing a short, meaningful piece about time value.

I’m short of time because I’ve created a writing monster that’s frothed like a sack of Mentos dunked into a Diet Coke vat. I’m enjoying the fizz but, man, is it ever sucking time. There’s no foreseeable end in sight.

So, I’m tapping an article I recently read on The Free Press (Bari Weiss—hate her or love her). It was titled The Time Billionaires and went like this:

A million seconds is 11 and 1/2 days. A billion seconds is slightly over 31 years. In our western culture, we’re so, so obsessed with money. We deify dollar billionaires when we really should be fan girls and fan boys of time billionaires. For instance, most 20-year-olds have two billion or better seconds left in their lives. But few look at it that way and don’t relate to themselves as being time billionaires. Many people fail to realize this asset’s value until it’s gone.

The piece had a nice quote from Stoic philosopher Seneca that read, “We are not given a short life, but we make it short, and we are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it.”

The article also linked a “Life Calendar”. It exposes a blank 90-year lifespan by each year listed vertically with 52 squares across the horizontal representing weeks in a year. It’s downloadable, and you can print it as an 8 ½ x 11 worksheet. See the pic below.

I drew out, or charted, my life calendar. It was an interesting exercise that made me reflect on where I’d spent the last 2 billion seconds of my life and where I’m going. I’m 66 now and, if my genes are predictive, I might have a billion seconds remaining.

Yes, still time to be a time billionaire. It’s what I do with forthcoming seconds that count. But if it goes like my Coke & Mento project is going, I might never get done.

How about you, Kill Zoners? Have you looked at your Life Calendar and worked on it? Also, if anyone has time management tips, I’d love to hear them. God knows, I need some.

30 thoughts on “Time Billionaires

  1. Avoid the cost of worry. If you waste time worrying, say 15 minutes out of each hour during a standard workday, that’s the equivalent of a full day wasted each week. Those who worry are at the mercy of those who don’t. So adopt and adapt the best of what other writers have already figured out and stop your worrying.

  2. Interesting post. Never thought of myself as a time billionaire. Although at my age, I may not have that much left. However, I’ve always been good about managing my time. My family and friends comment about how much I accomplish in a day. It’s not that hard. I don’t spend much time on social media or on the internet in general. Maybe 30 minutes a day doing that networking thing. 😉

    Not knowing if you’re serious about Time Management suggestions (I’m sure you have plenty of your own), but I will offer this one. 🙂

    The best time management plan I’ve used was this. I believe it was once called the $24,000 Managment Plan, but I can’t locate the original source on Google. According to the story, a company paid a housewife that amount for her suggested time management plan. It’s simple and has made a huge difference in my To Do List and peace of mind.

    The plan:
    List the three important tasks to be completed today, starting with the most pressing or urgent.

    As you check off a task, move the next up to the number one spot and add a third.

    If you only complete one urgent task a day, by the end of the week you will have completed seven important tasks.

    This exemplifies the one step at a time way of handling a huge project or pile of tasks.

    Hope you find a way to dig out from under your pile of tasks!

    • Good morning, Cecilia. I’m always interested in time management suggestions. I try my best each day to balance time distribution – or maybe better said as time division. I’ve always used a thing called the Eisenhower box where I break tasks into a four part priority. I’m at the stage right now where I only have one project ongoing and I devote all my working time into it. And it becomes a microcosm of prioritizing tasks within it.

  3. This article reminded me of the movie “In Time” with Justin Timberlake. I thought it was a great take on how valuable time is. My giant time-waster is the internet. I don’t want to think about how many years I’ve spent there.

  4. Wow, Garry, talk about putting stuff into perspective…

    My Dad resides in the very last square on the grid. He’s 90.4 years old. Slowing down, failing memory and body, but still has a wicked sense of humor.

    My math skills are pretty much nil, but according to your calculations, I might have about 21 years left. Maybe. I guess that’s about 648,459,000 seconds. Maybe.


    I wonder if I could divide that number by the number of books I have left to write and come up with a daily word count goal based upon . . . oh, never mind.


    I need more coffee.

  5. Garry, as Deb said, you did a great job of putting time in perspective. We’re all on deadline, literally.

    Let me add that time speeds up as you get older. Several writer friends in their 80s hear the clock ticking and are producing lots of excellent work b/c they recognize the finite time left to finish books or write new ones. They’re an inspiration.

    Thanks for a meaningful post!

    • I’ve already noticed how much time has sped up for me. It’s a reminder for sure that our days are not endless. “Deadline” is so apt–I like to badly paraphrase Samuel Johnson and say that “nothing focuses the mind like the prospect of a looming deadline.” That applies double to the ultimate deadline 🙂

  6. Great post, Garry. You’re singing my song. I am slightly obsessed with the subject of time. I’m currently reading a small book put out by the Royal Observatory in Greenwich titled About Time Too.

    I like the idea of “time billionaires.” Carl Sandburg said, “Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.” Lots of wisdom there.

    I keep a weekly to-do list. That seems to work best for me.

    • I have a weekly list, too, Kay. When I started it, it seemed like a time-suck in itself, but now I can’t work without it.

    • Let it be known to the world, Kay, that I’m a terrible, terrible singer. The most humiliating moment in my life – 66+years – was being forced to karaoke sing You Ain’t Nothing But A Hound Dog in front of a packed bar. BTW, I like your quote.

      • That’s the reason I would never go to a Karaoke bar. I’ve had enough humiliations in my life without adding another one. 🙂

        • Same here, Kay 🙂 I did sing, and sing fearlessly for the 2 and 3 years olds at my toddler story times, but they didn’t care, they just loved singing themselves.

  7. Time and its passing is something I regularly think about, too, Garry. Like you, given my likely lifespan (barring unforeseen events), I’m looking a billion seconds and change left. I’m also on the lookout for time management techniques and am ready to consider any and all.

    Eat the frog first–do the difficult thing right up front each day–is one technique, but it hasn’t worked for me. We used the Eisenhower grid at the library, and it worked there. Now, again like you, as a full-time writer, my current project tends to be the one thing I need to do. I do put in self-imposed deadlines, but I tend to struggle with those.

    Of course, all we have in the moment *is* the moment, so deciding how we spend them is key. One thing is to be fully present in that moment, not distracted on the internet, thinking about the next thing, or tomorrow, but being right here, now, working on what matters–be it the writing project, a chore, time with the family or friends etc.

  8. I’m very superstitious and don’t want to tempt God by estimating how much time I have left. However, I do feel a sense of urgency to write as much as possible since I got a later start in life.

  9. Great post, Garry. Very interesting.

    I haven’t looked at or worked on my life calendar. I didn’t have the time.

    Seriously, I have so many things I want to do, and know I’ll never get to many of them. So I have a rolling priority list, working on things at the top of the list, and constantly reshuffling the list, knowing (and accepting) that many of the things will never get done.

    Have a productive remainder of the week.

  10. Mostly nothing to do with writing (since I hit pause and haven’t been able to unpause), but I found myself floundering on everything, even something as simple as making sure towels got washed. So I came up with a pneumonic system, that I’m continuing to add to. Right now, it’s mostly household things.

    I can’t seem to write if I’m thinking about marketing. So, I now have Marketing Monday. Anything related to marketing is reserved for that day. If I have an idea, I make a quick note on the next Monday’s page and move on.

    Some non-writing items are:
    Towel Tuesday
    Wash Wednesday
    Water Wednesday
    Toilet Thursday
    Floor Friday
    Shower Saturday (clean, not take one – hahaha)
    Sheet Saturday
    Sink Sunday

    It seems silly event to me, and I created it, but it’s working. Most weeks, the general household stuff actually gets done. I’m finding that relieving that stress is freeing up my brain to work on getting the writing off pause. Sooner rather than later because those second are ticking away. Thanks for a great article.

    If anyone has more days-of-the-week suggestions, toss them in here.

  11. Sorry I’m late, Garry! I’m trying to get my new release ready for preorder by next week. So, man, could I relate. I don’t worry about the future. Living in the moment, learning to stay present and “awake,” taking time to appreciate what I have rather than what I don’t, and feeding my soul with the things that matter helps to keep the blood pressure strong and steady, the heart happy, and the fingers racing across the keyboard. 😉

    • You never need to apologise for nothing, Sue. I know what you’ve got going on in your moment so enjoy your future as it unfolds, my BFF!

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