Pay yourself first

Aeons ago, I read this excellent little book called “The Richest Man in Babylon.” It’s the foundational book on personal finance loaded with wisdom and insights that are deceptively simple but hard to follow.

The first chapter of the book is entitled “pay yourself first.” If you’re reading this post, you know what that means, don’t you? To save a certain percentage of your earnings before you budget for your monthly expenses. So, instead of saving what’s leftover, you’re spending what’s leftover.

It’s a powerful concept. And I would love to say that it’s been one of the reasons why I’m wealthy — but that’ll be BS! That said, I’m doing okay for myself, and that’s good enough for me.

One of the other applications of “paying myself first” was with the time I had. For us humans, time is as valuable as money, if not more, although time once spent cannot be recovered, ever. And since we all have 24 hours in a day, we need to be conscious about how we spend our time.

That’s the reason why productivity hacks and tools are all the rage these days. People want to get more done in less time. But it’s not the fanciest of tools or hacks that get the job done. It’s the mindset and how you manage your time and energy.

For years now, I’ve been paying myself first when it comes to time. And I don’t mean morning routines, although that’s part of the process. I meant scheduling your important and high-impact activities during the first few hours of the day.

The key is to identify and understand what those activities are. If you’re an entrepreneur, that could be business development or purposeful networking with peers and prospects. If you’re a writer, that could be practising your craft. If you’re an executive, that could be meditating, journaling, planning for the day, exercising and reading.

For me, it’s been writing, reading, and exercising. It hasn’t changed in the past 20 years, and I don’t think it’s going to in the next 20 either. And yes, there have been days when I haven’t been able to pay myself first, and those days have sucked big time! But that’s something we all have to deal with.

The critical bit is to realise that unless we make a conscious decision of paying ourselves first with time, we won’t be able to find time for those necessary but not urgent activities. We will forever be reacting to situations, circumstances, other people’s agendas, and life in general.

And then we die.

I think we all deserve to make the most of the limited time we have on earth. We can do it by consciously spending not only spending our money but our time as well.

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