My time has a fucking bank balance

Our bodies, time and minds have a bank balance.

The people around us, the projects we work on, everything we do, it all subtracts from that balance. When you make a payment in any one area, you have to make a withdrawal from a finite resource that you can’t always replenish.

Life is about making transactions. And I’m not talking about treating it like it’s some shitty business deal like Donald fucking Trump, I’m talking about the simple fact that every choice we make is a transaction.

If I stay up late tonight writing emails and reading The Lean Startup after my partner falls asleep, I am making a deposit into my productivity, into my business, and into my readers.

But to do that, I’m making a withdrawal that I can’t deposit into other areas — my energy for tomorrow morning, my sleep, my patience if things go wrong over the next 24 hours.

The same goes for when I work on my business too much, when I should be focused on other areas of my life.

If I’m making a deposit into getting shit done on a weekend that could probably wait for a Monday, I’m making a withdrawal from the account I have to draw on for my cat, my Xbox, my family, my mental health, and — pretty crucially — the love of my life, Emily.

That’s why you’ll rarely find me answering an email or a Snapchat on a Sunday. I’m just not interested in that transaction, because I know which accounts I value more.

I spend my time more meaningfully now

So here’s the thing. We believe that we have an endless balance, in all of these accounts. Or at least, we fucking act like it. But it’s not the case at all. Right now, this blog post that I’m writing, it’s taking a certain number of key strokes that I will not get back.

It’s taking a certain number of seconds and moments that I will not get back.

This withdrawal is something that I can’t make again, not in the same way. When I start to think about what I do, and frame it like that, it’s pretty confronting. It forces me to consider whether what I’m doing is worth the withdrawal, is worth the transaction.

To me, this post is worth that withdrawal, because it’s a subject that’s hugely important to me, that I can’t get out of my head. To me, there’s no regret associated with this transaction. There’s no buyers’ regret.

But what if I was doing something else with this time? With this energy? With my mind? What if I was scrolling endlessly through Twitter? Arguing with some shithead who doesn’t like my blog? Reading hot takes on the new iPhone calling it the end of humanity? Watching viral videos? Would I have buyers’ regret then? Almost definitely.

I didn’t used to think this way. And I wasted so much time. I would throw away an incredible amount of time and energy just clicking on random crap that meant nothing to me, or reading celebrity slide shows, and I can’t get a refund on those transactions.

I can’t get a refund on the resources that could have been spent on my family before I moved out of home. On friends who I’ve now lost contact with. On projects I was passionate about. On business ideas that could have made a difference. On art, on music, on my health, on my interests.

That’s not to say I think life has to always be “productive”

Fuck no. I don’t do lifehacking, I don’t believe that life has to always be accomplishing something in order to be of value.

There’s nothing I love more than just getting a pizza and turning on a sitcom.

But because I know that’s an activity that makes me happy, that makes me spend time with people I love, that makes me turn off my brain and stop thinking about work, that makes a memory I can treasure one day (more than I’d treasure burying my face in my Blackberry) I know it’s a valuable transaction.

So I know that when I make that withdrawal, it’s not going to be wasted. At all. And it’s the same when I make a withdrawal to eat breakfast out on a weekend, or turn down a Skype call because I value a transaction that lets me be there for my family more than a transaction that lets me make a business move.

I think about my life in terms of transactions, not because I want to maximise it — but because I want to minimise the waste. The waste that comes from throwing my energy and my time away and not giving it generously to the people and the ideas that matter.

Life is worth so much, and a bank balance that isn’t made up in dollar signs can’t always be replenished. You don’t get this shit back by buying a lottery ticket or flipping houses. You don’t get this shit back at all.

Here’s the 🔑:

  • Don’t throw your bank balance away. Use it wisely.
  • When you’re evaluating your transactions, don’t ever put a dollar value on them. You’ll always prioritise the wrong things.
  • Investing your balance in people and passion is the wisest move.
  • The good news is, recessions don’t fuck with the value of your time or your energy…

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Jon is the founder of Creatomic.

Jon works with creative people to help them do the work they love and become focused. Jon is incredibly excited about changing lives. You can reach out for a free coaching session by emailing