I’ve been thinking about some advice I heard recently. It relates to buying things and how one of the best things we can do before buying something is to ask ourselves the question:
How will this purchase affect my time?
It doesn’t matter if it’s a physical good, a new app, tickets to a concert, or an upcoming vacation. We should be asking ourselves how making that purchase will affect both how we spend our time and the quality of that time.
I like this line of thinking. It jives with something my family and I are trying harder to do, which is live more intentionally. Part of living more intentionally is taking a look at the things you own and the ways in which you spend your time.
As far as buying things go, it influences both. Buying something adds to the piles of stuff we already own and now we have to spend time figuring out how it fits into our lives.
Oftentimes, we think that a new purchase will vastly improve our lives. New apps promise to improve our productivity, a new gadget or pair of shoes will make us happier, etc. But that’s rarely the case. I’ve found that, more often than not, I don’t spend as much time with a recent purchase as I intended to and that there are side effects of that outcome.
For example, after a windfall last year, I bought myself a new guitar. Music brings me a lot of happiness and, for a while, the new guitar was adding a lot of value to my life. Now, however, I simply don’t play it enough to justify owning it. I have other guitars—ones I play far more frequently. What’s more, not playing it is pushing into time devoted to other things. It’s sitting in my office, so whenever I walk in and sit down to work, I see it and feel guilty about not playing it. It distracts me and acts as a drain on my mental and emotional energy.
I didn’t fully consider how a purchase like that would affect my time. It was an impulse and one that I increasingly regret.
So, again, I really like the question above when considering purchases or obligations. It’s a great question and one I’m slowly trying to train myself to pose any time I’m presented with the desire to buy something or buy into doing something with my time.
Less impulse, more intention. Seems like a good motto to me. Now, anyone want to buy a Les Paul?