It’s cold out. 25 degrees Fahrenheit. There are a couple of inches of snow on the ground. As the snow continues to float down from the dirty cotton, forming giant, sprawling loaves of white bread baking on the streets and sidewalks of your new home Philadelphia. The plow trucks tumble by the parallel parked cars creating an owner’s worst nightmare. You’re damn happy you don’t have an automobile to worry about as you willingly help your roommate remove the ice-crusted white bread from his car. It’s the least you can do if he’s your ride to work. It’s cool though; you’re sharing the same experience of car liberation without having to worry about car ownership – is it truly the same experience?
Before your roommate moved in you watched your cash burn like it was your newfound post-graduation, religion. You never had a true religion growing up. You have your first job and your game plan is to dig yourself out of the $22k hole of debt society threw you in. Education from one of the top-liberal arts colleges in the nation had a cost that Mom, Dad and the Government financial aid package could partially cover, albeit it was a generous portion. The goal: fill up the hole, get back to the surface or level ground, and then save. You could follow the standard payment scheme conveniently outlined for you, but this meant you would be paying more in interest on your loans. You make time your friend, not your enemy. The sooner you pay off the loans, the less you have to pay in interest. Your approach: cover the statement balance and more – however much you can afford without starving. You choose to make your only expenses the following: rent, food, loans. Keep things simple and you’ll be out of this hole in no time.
After you go home from work you cook dinner using the groceries you bought at Reading Terminal Market and Whole Foods. It is cheaper to cook than to go to a restaurant. But maybe you need to factor the time component of cooking. Well, your Paw Paw didn’t teach you how to cook for nothing. After dinner you layer up to insulate yourself from your unheated apartment. You pull out all the plugs from their outlets to reduce your electric bill. You curl up under the covers. As you lie under the blanket you watch the frost billow from your mouth with each exhale before the settling warmth of your bed closes your eyes for good.
It was a pretty hard core lifestyle looking back on it. Back then I didn’t realize the cash in my hand may have given me a better investment opportunity to beat the low interest rate of student loans. Maybe I would have paid more in interest had I opted to pay just the statement balance, but maybe the investment returned on the cash would have had more than covered the excess total interest paid. But it’s ok. It was a learning experience that paid off – no more school loans to worry about unless I go back to school – probably not (psss… stop working for someone and work for yourself).
Choosing that disciplined lifestyle also had a social price. Most of my dinners were at home alone for the few months before I got my first roommate. This self-inflicted ostracization also affected me in a negative way (paid off my loans remember?). I remember going out to meet friends at a bar on the weekend once. When I stepped inside the establishment my heart began racing, and with each introduction and handshake the tempo increased almost exponentially. My palms and forehead were sweating following the rounds of intros before my observant friend pointed out to me where the restroom was to where I could abscond.
Who the hell gets nervous walking into a restaurant to get drinks and to meet people? Someone who doesn’t get out much.
After watching me practice my cash-burn religion of turning off all the lights and washing and drying ziplock bags for future use, my roommate asked me a simple perspective shifter:
Instead of focusing on saving so much, why don’t you think about how to make more money?
Yes, he had a point. I could spend my time thinking of ways to make more money so I could have an unlimited supply of ziplock bags and a heated apartment. (You can imagine how I felt when he wanted to turn on the heater. Compromise, which is against Steve Jobs’ belief: Don’t Compromise. Sorry, Steve.) But just because I can make a billion dollars (not yet) doesn’t mean I should be more generous with consumption. It was very difficult for me to see my roommate rip off three sheets from the paper towel roll just to wipe his mouth. Three sheets could have been used for three separate days.
So what should the practical approach be? To focus 50% of one’s time on conserving resources and 50% on increasing resources? That’s the definition of moderation and we’ve all been told to, “everything in moderation.” “…Including moderation,” my good friend quipped one time. Or imagining the whole pie, I see a majority of the population focused on the ‘increasing resources’ section, so maybe the environmentalists and minimalists, although extreme, are attempting to counteract the weight of the majority. Make sense?
Recently, the thought came to mind that for a long time I’ve been focusing on ways to save time. Intermittent fasting. How to organize my day so that I can get more done. How to make a meal faster – Paw Paw taught me to chop up all my ingredients and get all my spices together before starting to cook, but the more efficient approach is to chop and add spices into the pan in the order you cook the ingredients, a cook-as-you-go approach to match her and Mom’s clean-as-you-go method of managing the kitchen space. If this habit of focusing on ways to save time is perpetuated and spread across all areas of my life, over time, my existence is in essence a life of finding ways to save time. One extreme.
A similar analogy comes from the longevity and anti-aging crew that’s gaining popularity in the developed world. It’s a big business because fear of not living long is fueling investments into products marketed as essential to improve your life, creating a billion dollar industry. It’s actually all just marketing/pseudo-science; products claiming you will feel like a brand new person following this 20-day super cleanse. (I never understood the logic behind going on a cleanse if you are just going to dirty your body again with alcohol and sweets and fried foods – if you just stayed from those food groups, you wouldn’t have to cleanse… eat clean to be clean). We are fortunate now to have the luxury of time to discover ways to extend our lifespans. If we perpetuate this habit = a life of discovering how to make life longer. Another extreme.
These extremes are two approaches to the same end: to have more time to spend.
We can either spend time wisely or waste it. (Same goes for energy).
I once thought it was wise to find ways to save time. Half the story.
The majority of one’s day ought to be spent on a task that one would always feel time was used wisely. It’s the project that a person has passion for. It’s the hobby one is looking to make a living out of. There’s got to be one or two or several things we must enjoy so much that we do not rush to escape. We are happy to invest the time into our family, our children, our better future our life’s work.
This new perspective will resonate with the passion and purpose community: do what you love. Use your time/life for the things you love.
Stop for a moment and ask yourself:
What am I saving all my time for?
Do more of that.
Here’s the philosophy behind why I never scramble eggs: It’s a waste of time in several ways. Using a standard stainless steel pan, you’re likely to have much of the egg stick to the pan requiring you to scrape it off (wasting time). And now you have to soak an egg crusted pan (while you eat) before you can wash it thoroughly (time). The egg droppings you wash down the drain is the same as you washing your money down the drain. When you scramble eggs in a bowl, usually there’s some egg residue left in the bowl that doesn’t make it into the pan. You end up washing this residue down the drain. Using the scrambling method, it’s like washing a dozen eggs a year down the drain. Maybe less. Maybe more.
Time = money = eggs. Eggs = Time.
Eggs sunny-side up or over-easy is a slightly better option if you use a generous portion of a healthy cooking fat. But now you run the risk of wasting your time via the ‘time = cooking fat’ equation.
If you’re using a non-stick pan to cook your eggs, you shouldn’t be using a non-stick pan.
So how do I typically eat my eggs: soft-boiled. The egg yolk is still raw while the egg white is cooked. To eat eggs this way, you’ll need a small spoon to scoop out the egg straight into your mouth – transferring to a bowl just opens room for egg waste unless you lick the bowl clean. Jealous of dogs. Crack the egg on a table or edge and create two separate halves. The spoon is crucial because you can scoop 99.27% of the egg while leaving the shell in tact. This method may take several attempts to nail down – every stove is different – but soon enough you’ll be eating all of your time with efficiency. What is the waste from the soft-boiled method? The water used to boil the eggs, but there’s even a solution for this: simply pour the boiling water into another pot to use for the following day. Cover. (Just thought of this while writing – exciting!!). You’ll lose a little water because of evaporation during the boiling period. See how long you can make the water last. 1 week? No washing of dishes required except for the spoon, which you may not have to do if you lick the spoon well enough.
For those people hyper focused on making more money, how about shifting gears for a second and thinking about how to live more with less? Do I really need a gym membership or should I just bike to work and help Mrs. Goodson build her garden? Do I need to buy the next iPhones or can the $1000 iPhone 7+ serve me just fine for a couple of years? Do I need to buy the Gucci bag just because it’s on sale?
Gratitude: thank you Vox for your work.
Fact: I started eating eggs in college because I saw how many eggs my soccer teammates ate. There was no need to egg me on, I was sold. FOMO is real.
Upgrade: Julia Michael’s Issues 2.0. Beautiful.