Manvotional: The Improvement of Time

by Brett & Kate McKay on January 31, 2010 · 13 comments

in A Man's Life, Manvotionals

“The Improvement of Time”

From Manhood: It’s Duties and Responsibilities, 1854

Time is precious in relation to the engagements of the day; in relation to the frightful loss of the past, requiring to be redeemed; in relation to its brief duration and rapid flight; and in its probationary relation to the future. It has been said, “Time is money.” It is more. It is truth, wisdom, virtue, heaven! It is a capital in which men are equal, though endowed with dissimilar fortunes. Its capacity and promise are yours. Its achievements are possible to you. Its hopes shine upon you. Spare moments are the golddust of time. And the poet has graphically said:

“Sands make the mountains, months make the year.”

Time steals from us imperceptibly in its spare moments, while perhaps jealously guarded in its allotted periods. But if we take care of the moments, the hours, days, weeks, will take care of themselves. The true use of time is a test of character, the pledge of greatness, the earnest of success. The improvement of the shortest intervals of business increases the taste and faculties for study, and promises intelligence and respect.

Assiduity and punctuality may attain success in professional, commercial, or mechanical pursuits, while negligence and procrastination entail failure and disgrace. Diligence in useful occupations precludes a thousand temptations to vice. Spare moments are the gaps through which they find readiest access to the soul. When not provided for by a judicious arrangement of time, they may commit you to spontaneous and casual engagements, and at length confirm these engagements in habits, and finally enslave and debase the soul in mere vagrancy of thought and passion.

The manner of using leisure time, then, is one of the most ominous differences in the habits of young men. As the Turks prize every scrap of paper they can gather, because the name of God may be written thereon, so do you prize every passing period, every moment, as fraught with priceless value, and radiant with golden promise.

Just now you were an infant, and sympathy was felt in your cry. But yesterday you were a child, and chided for your faults. To-day you are a youth, projecting the plans, and glowing with the aspirations of a glorious life. Improve the time, and to-morrow you may be a philosopher, or statesman, or divine, or citizen, honored for your wisdom, or goodness, or virtue.



{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Richard | RichardShelmerdine.com January 31, 2010 at 4:20 am

It is a capacity in which men are equal. I really like that. Nice post.

2 Kenneth Payne January 31, 2010 at 2:24 pm

Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that’s the stuff life is made of.
Benjamin Franklin, ‘Poor Richard’s Almanack,’ June 1746

3 Daniel Gedutis January 31, 2010 at 5:12 pm

Thanks for reminding me that time is precious, and what a man does with the time he has been given makes that time valuable.

4 Tyler Logan February 1, 2010 at 3:22 am

Oh time time time – where have you gone! Nicely written, now I need to go be productive.

5 Vaughn Johnson February 1, 2010 at 8:48 am

I love AofM as much as the next guy but am I the only one who felt this post was dramatically overwritten? I too believe time to be an astonishing wonder of the world. But more interesting still, is man’s evident ability to somehow both quantify and qualify such an inanimate existence.

Just a thought…

6 Dr. Rod Berger February 1, 2010 at 2:44 pm

Thanks for discussing an issue and topic that impact us all on a daily basis. One that impacts our ability to communicate because too often it is…”this too shall pass” when actually we need to stand up and take control of our time and communicate our needs along side. Thanks! Great post.
Dr. Rod

7 Brett McKay February 1, 2010 at 6:11 pm

@Vaughn-

Success books from the 19th and early 20th century all have a kind of dramatic writing style that’s foreign to modern readers. Personally that’s what I love about them. But I imagine it’s a matter of taste.

8 Paul February 2, 2010 at 8:10 am

Really liked the post and the style.

While reading the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, I realized that I was squandering my time by failing to control it. I’ve found that planning and recording what I do with my time is essential to productivity, personal satisfaction and avoiding procrastination. And, it doesn’t cost much. There are even a number of websites with suggestions and templates to use to create your own planner. I’ve created my own using the DIY Planner website. And, it’s really true, the more one plans, the more time one has.

9 Bela February 3, 2010 at 1:01 am

After having worked on time sensitive projects throughout college and graduate school, I appreciate the aspect of planning one’s time. However, I think there are some tasks , such as a paper, that cannot be placed into a planner. Therefore, at times, even when planning what you will work on, may not have specific time frame.

Also, I think procrastination is looked down upon too much. I’ve often times found that procrastination with my friends, allows my mind to leave the task at hand and I am able to come back to it with a fresh view.

Apart from scheduled work that needs to be done, I have never felt the need to plan my day. I know what tasks need to be done in my day and I work on them until they are either done, or a sufficient stopping point has been reached.

I have tried to plan my day in the past and I have found that the structure of the schedule hinders my productivity to an extent.

@Vaughn, I feel that it is overwritten as well. The dramatic tone does not accentuate the point any more than reading any chapter about time management. In the end, it is a personal choice to do what you need to do or to not do so.

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