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Delayed Investments

WLC Day #10

My truck needs the front windshield wiper replaced. It isn't awful yet, I just am aware that it needs to be done sooner than later. But I'm also aware that the sooner I replace it, the sooner it will wear out; and the sooner the new one wears out, the sooner I will need to buy yet another wiper blade. So, if I wait to buy a new one until it is absolutely necessary, I actually will end up saving myself a little bit of money.

For that matter, if I choose to delay buying everything that isn't a need by one day, I will have one extra day's worth of money in my bank account at all times. If I delay buying something for 2 full weeks, then that gives me an extra 2 weeks to save money before my buying frenzy begins. And chances are, if I develop the habit of waiting 2 weeks, I can also manage to wait 4 weeks, or 4 months, or not have to buy that thing at all. Buy practicing not spending my money in small steps, I can practice saving my money in small steps.

What if the same was true of my time?
What if I delay responding to an email by one day? Will I have bought myself any extra time? I think yes. Let's play out two scenarios after an email pops up in my inbox:

-I respond immediately, getting a momentary sense of instant gratification as I check a to-do item off my list and delete the email. The problem is that the other person sees my reply right away and replies to my reply. Within 10 minutes they have now sent me a 2nd email. I need to respond to that right away as well. I can now check off 2 things on my list. I become glued to my monitor waiting for their response so I can chalk up 3 to-dos off my list (although none of those to-dos were actually on my list prior to getting the email). On and on the cycle goes.

-I respond at an allotted time during the day when I check my email (4pm). I scan through the email subject headings and address the most important emails first, then I respond to second tier priority, and finally to forwarded articles and well-wishes. Perhaps an email comes in while I am addressing emails, but likely no one gets my responses until they get home that evening. I close my email browser and don't open it again until 4pm the next day. The emails can wait until I am ready for them.

In option one, my day keeps getting interrupted and I have to keep responding to emails as they appear. Like the wiper blade scenario, the sooner I respond to an email, the sooner I will have to respond to the next one.
In option two, I have budgeted a window to spend addressing emails. Regardless of how many responses an email chain may take, I know that it will never take more time than I will give it.

For the most part, investments are those things that we work on right away and down the road we see big results. This is true for things that require compound interest: retirement, savings, building relationships with your kids...these things all require that you put in the maximum effort you can today so that you can see the biggest yield on that effort tomorrow and 10 years down the road.
But there are also investments that you can make by not doing something. You can actually delay the response, purchase, conversation, task, and in so doing, buy yourself more time to focus on the thing that you really value.

If I make appointments for how I want to spend my time, that is the same as making a budget for how I want to spend my money. If something doesn't fit in the constraints of that time window or that monetary budget, it gets delayed until I have time/money for it. I am investing in my present and in my future by actually not responding to the thing at hand until I have the resources to do so.

Oddly enough, I have been working on how to say this for over a year now. I think the idea still needs some fine-tuning, but it is close. I've been delaying the writing about delaying. #irony.


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