Becoming a Time Philanthropist


I’m not a big time-management kind of person. I don’t do a lot of reading about it, and it’s not something I stress about too much. The fact is, I’m at high J [Myers Briggs], and for all my flaws, mismanaging time is not one of them.

However, I do follow a blog that is more or less time-management-based, which I really like. The title is “Before Breakfast,” and it is by Laura Vanderkam. You can find the podcast here:  Before Breakfast. I highly recommend it. The episodes are all roughly 5 minutes long, and they come out Monday through Friday. I listen to them every morning while I’m walking Henry, and there are really good work tips, and also small gems of ideas that are meant to make everyday life a little better, a little richer, and a little easier.

The episode I wanted to share aired on Friday Nov. 15th, and I have been thinking about it ever since I heard it. She talked about the concept of time philanthropy, and thinking about the way we use our time, similar to the ways we use money. She talked about how people who are financial philanthropists use their money to create the kind of world they would like to see through donating to different causes. She suggested that we can use our time the same way: donating our time in order to foster a more positive, more loving world.

I like this idea because I’m one of those people for whom, in many ways, time is worth more than money.  That is, it’s the resource I feel I have the least of, even as I also recognize that time is the resource that I know is so valuable. Not everyone can say this, but for some people, the easiest thing to do is throw money at a problem, and the hardest thing to do is actually sit down and devote one’s time and attention to it. While lots and lots of people really need more money [I am not trying to minimize the real economic challenges so many people face], at the same time, lots of people in our lives also really covet more of our time.  There are some things that money just can’t fix, and some situations where all the money in the world doesn’t help.

She did give some ideas for what that might look like, but I think when you get down to the specifics, it’s pretty individualistic; giving time for me will probably look very different than it does for you, in terms of who is around me, and what the needs are.

But what I think is common is the disposition–the sense of intentionally in using one’s time in a positive way to foster a better world. That was my take-away from the podcast, and like I said, I’ve been thinking about it ever since. I want to be a person who uses her time that way.  Maybe you want to be that kind of person, too.

As we are coming into the holiday season, one of the busiest times of the year, I think it might be helpful to think a bit about how you want to spend your precious resource of time this next month–fostering relationships, and bringing light and life to people who need it.  And isn’t that really what the holiday season is supposed to be about–sharing time, rather than spending money?

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