for where’s waldo fans, take a closer look at today’s header photo. it’s one of my favorite pictures of me. :-)
several friends of ours have recently done the hard work of figuring out where all their money is giong, they now know what they’re spending their money on, but before they started keeping track, they had no idea where all the money went. (we know we can relate to that sentiment! we certainly had no clue how much we were spending on restaurants back when we lived in the city, before we got serious about saving.)
as it happened, i was reading des’s post at half banked about mindful budgeting, while at the same time having the thought late in the work day that i’m sure we can all relate to: “it’s 6 o’clock already?! where did the day go?”
then it struck me: where did the money go? where did the time go? these are not such different questions.
in the personal finance blogosphere, we all talk about money a lot. and we talk about time, too, in that most of us want more of it, and that’s why so many of us are working feverishly toward early retirement. but we tend to talk about the two as separate things, when really they are the same. money is a representation of time, earned for time spent working, and spent to better enjoy our time. we even use the word “spend” to describe how we use our time, because, like with money, we only have so much of it at once.
all of this got us talking about how we think: we’ve been so focused these past few years on changing our habits and mindsets around money, but what about time? are we being as mindful about spending our time as we’ve become about spending our money? and should we think about budgeting our time the way that many people think about budgeting their money? the question is even more urgent, in many ways, than questions about money, because money is an infinite resource, whereas time is truly precious and limited.
for us, the answer is that we want to get a whole lot more mindful about our time and how we spend it. and we don’t want to wait until early retirement to do that, which tends to be our fallback answer to things we wish we had time for but don’t, at least for now. (“we’ll read proust when we retire. we’ll run another marathon when we retire.”) but waiting to value our time is antithetical to this whole notion. so we want to start treating our time as our most precious asset now.
what we want out of our time is the same thing we want out of our lives: meaning, love, adventure, fun. we want to engage in projects that contribute good to the world. we want to cultivate and strengthen our relationships with each other, with family and with friends. we want to explore this great big world of ours. and we want to act like overgrown kids, try new things and get silly.
we get resentful when we feel like our time is wasted, just as we resent wasted money. when a whole workday has passed without feeling like we got anything done. when we’ve done the digital equivalent of pushing paper. when we’ve been stuck in airports for hours on end, or sat mindlessly on the couch because our minds were too scorched by work to have a real conversation with each other or even to read a book. a lot of that resentment over wasted time is work related, even though we feel thankful that our jobs do actually contribute some good to the world. but work is not to blame: we are. we are not being intentional enough about how we’re choosing to spend our time. we procrastinate. we let ourselves lose focus. we complain. it’s the time equivalent of blowing our money on take-out food full of empty calories, or buying poorly made stuff we don’t even want. we know there’s a better way.
spending our time mindfully
we’re bad at adhering to a financial budget, preferring to pay ourselves first instead. could a similar strategy work with time allocation? or, maybe, as we’ve argued with spending, you don’t really need a budget if you spend your money consciously, and you know your weaknesses (hello, whole foods impulse buys).
a key difference between time and money is that the default with money is not spending, and it’s the reverse with time. if you just sit on your butt and do nothing, you’re not spending money, but you are spending time. this is where we want to focus our efforts. identifying these moments, especially during the workday, when we waste time, and as a result, work spills out into our nights and weekends, consuming ever more of our personal time. in an interesting paradox, to get more personal time, we need to do more work. or, rather, smarter, more efficient work.
we’re not really ones for resolutions, so this post isn’t going to be a listicle of all the things we’re going to try in an effort to avoid wasting time. instead, we think it’s the mindset shift that’s critical, and that’s something we’ve had success with around several pain points in our lives. for example:
- the word “busy” has become its own sort of status symbol, and we noticed that when we described ourselves as busy, we felt busier. recognizing this, we decided to shift our thinking to a different frame. now, when we feel overwhelmed, we tell ourselves, “we have plenty of time.” shockingly, it’s made a huge difference. we no longer feel those heart palpitations or those beads of sweat, that crippling anxiety, that comes from feeling like there’s too much to do and too little time. try it: “i have all the time i need.” (deep breaths help too.)
- when we were early in our journey to become more money-conscious, we realized that we were doing really well at avoiding the big purchases, but were struggling to convince ourselves to avoid the little ones. because we’re fortunate to earn two more than decent incomes, a lot of purchases seemed inconsequential in terms of what we earn in a month, or a week or even a day. so again, we changed how we thought about it: instead of relating prices to what we earn now, we started thinking about them in terms of how much freedom that money buys us in the future, when our “earnings” will be significantly lower. using a rough, back-of-the-envelope calculation, we determined that our all-in cost for being retired early is about $100 a day. so now we have a different way to think about purchases: is that $50 meal worth giving up a half day of freedom? is that $200 pair of replacement ski pants worth two days of freedom? changing the question has been truly transformative.
we’re sure there’s a way to shift our mindsets around using our time better, but we haven’t found the answer yet, since it’s still a new question for us. there will certainly be some element of retraining our brains to see mindless surfing not as a relief from work, but as something that’s detracting from the things we’d like to be doing in the evening or over the weekend. maybe it’s thinking about wasted time as debt: sure, we might be happy to spend that time doing something dumb now, but we’ll have to pay it back later, when we’d rather not. stay tuned for what ends up working for us.
in the meantime, we’d love to hear from you guys! have you found any great strategies for shifting your mindset around wasted time? do you have some analogy that works for you, like our equating every $100 to a day of freedom? and even though this post isn’t about productivity, we’re always open to new and better tools that help you get more done. we’re big fans of evernote (the free version of course) and, more recently, todoist, thanks to a recommendation from thias at it pays dividends. please share your brilliant ideas!
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Categories: we've learned
I shifted my mindset around wasted time a few months ago when I realized blogging was a full time job. Now that I’ve got a kid on the way, I’ll have even less time between that and my actual full-time job. One thing I started doing was keeping tasks of things I needed to do as I thought of them. I use an app called Remember the Milk to keep track of what needs to be done in my life. I’ve also been using something called the Pomodoro Technique, which basically forces you to focus on one task (and only one task) for 25 minutes before giving yourself a break. I’d suggest searching both to find out more. You’re absolutely right, though, time is precious, and it’s not a renewable resource.
You aren’t kidding that you’re about to have a lot less time! :-) Thanks for the great input on your productivity tricks — good to know! Hope your week is off to a great start, Chris!
Wow. This is very, very deep. I had to read it twice because the distinction between “how to be more productive” and “how to shift one’s mindset about time” had not really occurred to me before.
I will offer one suggestion that I personally have not used, but that I know worked well for a colleague of mine. It’s not a mind shift strategy per se, but perhaps could be effectively combined with one. He installed one of those time-tracking softwares on his work computer, so that he could easily keep track of how much of his time during an 8-hour (or whatever) workday was spent actually doing work, and how much was spent on email or surfing the internet. I’m not sure exactly how it worked, or which specific software/app he was using, but he said that it did wonders for his awareness. And that’s actually the reason I mention it: because my experience becoming financially conscious has been very much founded on awareness, particularly awareness of exactly what I’m spending my money on. Simply becoming aware of where every penny was going resulted in a mindset shift that I couldn’t have possibly anticipated. So I wonder if tracking where every minute is going (while at work) might result in a valuable mindset shift as well. It would, at the very least, tell you exactly “where the time went”.
Love love love your header photo!
Thanks for this. :-) It means a lot that you took the time to read the post instead of skim, since I think it’s easy to see this post as being about productivity. (We’re good on that front, actually.)
I LOVE the idea of a time tracker — think I can find one that will travel with me across all of life? ;-) I do think it will be super illuminating to know where my time on the computer is going, like you said, like that level of awareness was for our spending.
And thanks for the note on the photo. :-)
This is a potentially huge breakthrough for me. I think I’d be as horrified to know how I spend my time as I was to learn how I spent my money when I first discovered Mint and other budget software tools years ago!
At a time when my resources were fairly tight soon out of school, I learned that I was spending $200 a month at one restaurant after downloading Mint – that should have been my whole restaurant budget! Their $10 margaritas certainly didn’t help matters…
Time is certainly more valuable than money, at least to me currently, so I should absolutely do a similar analysis. For whatever reason wasting time doesn’t bother me nearly as much as wasting money. That needs to change though. Thanks for the thought provoking post!
Glad you enjoyed the post! We’ve found that this whole early retirement journey is one eye-opening epiphany after another — and this realization that we need to spend time as mindfully as money is a big one!
Cut yourself some slack on the margarita place spending — what matters is making progress, not being perfect from day one. :-)
I agree that it doesn’t make sense to devalue time until retirement, even if it’s early retirement. And it’s so true that constantly saying you’re busy only makes life feel more hectic. Acknowledging our choice in how we spend our time has helped us with that mindset a lot.
Here’s a tip that helps me (and which I need to reinstitute myself): I try to leave books I’m reading right next to my computer, next to my bed, and in the living room. This way I have a visual trigger for “read something good” when I’m tempted to mindlessly surf the internet, watch TV, and when I’m going to bed. It makes it a little easier to choose reading when I do have the mental energy.
Hi Neil — What a great idea. We mostly read library e-books on Kindle these days, but I think your point is about the visual cue, and I bet there are lots of ways we can satisfy that. Maybe I need to keep my bike helmet on my desk as a reminder? ;-)
Great photo! I think the biggest thing I do as it relates to time is focus on one thing at a time. we have so many distractions, e-mail, smart phones, facebook, TV, etc that we end up never completing things. I find it best to shut those thing off/out and complete the one task first and than move onto the next.
Thanks, Brian! Totally agree with your productivity approach, and using a combo of Todoist and Evernote have really helped us focus on one thing at a time. We’re definitely not perfect though, so maybe practice is the key.
I’m a big fan of the ‘pay yourself first’ technique with time. I schedule what I want to do in the day and then schedule the things that need doing (chores, shopping) around those. I’m retired, though, so that’s easier – well, retired from a salaried job, but as an indie writer/reviewer/editor/blogger I’m pretty busy still! When I was working at a salaried job the trade was paying for chores to be done to free up some time for myself – I preferred to pay someone to clean the house then to gain a few hours to write or walk or read.
Thanks for following me on Twitter, too!
Hi Marian — We can’t wait until we can do your approach! Just a few more years…
I’m wondering if there’s a hybrid approach — even if we can’t schedule all of our wants first, maybe we can block out an hour or two a day for fun things, and force work to bend around those things. Thanks for the good thought starter!
Since we had been stuck inside for 2 weekends straight now due to torrential rains, yesterday was pretty slow and lazy. We just had this conversation about time yesterday, and it went literally like this, Mrs.: “So is this what we’re going to do when we’re retired?” Mr.: “No, I’d be doing, blah instead…” Mrs.: “So why aren’t you doing that now?” Mr.: “Because I only get X days to relax, and I like that I’m forced to do that with the rain…”
Her point was that would we just fritter away all the free time being lazy or would we really do something with it. We have this conversation a lot. I like to point out that in a few years, we’ll be able to do whatever we want on Sundays/Saturdays etc… because we’ll have mon-fri to catch up on house cleaning, yard maintenance, groceries, etc… We won’t have to pack it into 2 days like now.
While it may have seemed lazy, I really enjoyed getting to watch the Saints barely beat the Giants, and hang out and play with the kids, and we even went out and got a few new guppies for the tank. I even got signed up with a facebook group of people in my neighborhood that want to get together and play music. Can’t wait to meet up with those cats! wait, that sounds really jazzy, lol
Not a bad day at all…
We just started a google calendar to put stuff like home maintenance, our appointments, car maintenance, play dates and what not, and get emailed a “to-do” list for the day, each morning. I love when it says, you have nothing scheduled today.
We have that same conversation over and over! I can’t help but think that we won’t feel nearly as compelled to veg once our souls are no longer being consumed by work. That said, I truly have zero issue with lazy time. We love lounging on the couch with a movie, or like you said, watching a game. That is more intentional, and feels worth the time. It’s the mindless stuff that I want to cut out.
Our productivity app of choice is Todoist, and I agree with you — the best is when it says “enjoy your day,” because there’s nothing (else) to do!
Keep it jazzy, daddy-o! ;-)
Mr. SSC, we share a Google Calendar, too. Whenever I have “something I need to do,” I go to the calendar, pick a day and time, and enter a quick note in the appointment. This helps me manage my time, but more importantly, my sanity–I’m not trying to remember every little task anymore. I love our calendar!
That’s great! I admire people big time who can stick to stuff like that. During the work day, there are just so many interruptions, and it can be tough to spend time I’ve blocked out for a specific purpose on that actual thing!
Definitely true! If I’m really busy at work and I can’t tackle the “appointment,” I drag it to the next day. For me, the calendar puts tasks out of mind, at least until I get the alert, so it doesn’t matter as much if I complete the task during the day in which it first occurs.
Makes sense! That’s pretty much how I use Todoist, too. :-)
Ahh, yes yes! Have you read the book “Scarcity: Why Having So Little Means So Much” by Eldar Shafir? This book encompasses a lot of this post. After I read this book, my mindset shifted in an incredible amount of ways. For example: I used to take on everything by always saying “Yes.” I felt organized & eager to help anyone with what they needed. What I did not realize was how taxing this was on my ‘bandwidth’ and suddenly I started to forget the most SIMPLE things that I used to never forget. I would get down on myself…how could I possibly forget that appointment was at that time even though it’s written in my planner/in my phone calendar (or many other things)? I wasn’t mindful of how I was spending my energy and wasn’t allocating my energy in efficient and proactive ways – I just kept throwing it everywhere hoping for positive results. This is much similar to the time aspect! When we aren’t mindful of our time, we lose it – and all of the sudden it lends itself to poor habits (especially around spending) because we need to quickly make up that time. Recognizing that saving money & time can be mutually exclusive is incredibly important, and I am glad that you wrote this post!
When it comes to strategy, I always think of the “10,000 hours” concept. All great things come with time, so every word I read – every thing I write – every lesson I learn will eventually total up to something great. The more time I spend doing ‘useless’ activities out of boredom makes me feel like I am backtracking and I have to do that much more to make up for the lost time. Now, this isn’t to say that I completely work, work, work all the time…but that’s how I shift my mindset when I feel like I’ve been lazy. :)
Thanks for that book recommendation, Alyssa! I’ll add it to the list. That’s so wonderful that you’ve been able to bring a lot more mindfulness to your time and life energy.
I love the 10,000 hours idea. I remember reading about that in Malcolm Gladwell, and it’s a great point that I’m taking away potential time from mastering something that’s actually important to me or us when I waste time. Love that!
Have a great week!
Google calendars (I’ll second the comment about them!). My husband and I each have one and we share them, so I can always see what he has scheduled, and he can see what I do. We fit in projects we want to get done. That increases our productivity… but I’m looking for that same mindset shift of not wasting time and being mindful about my time. So, I’ll definitely be keeping up with these comments for further tips and inspiration!
Thanks for the Google calendars tip! We always feel like we don’t need that since we don’t have kids, but in truth, it would probably be helpful to keep track of each other’s travel for work. And please pass along any tips you may see on the mindset piece. Thanks, Maggie!
Our kids are too young to really have their own schedules yet. Our google calendar is mostly work meetings, social events, projects, workouts, reminders to take care of stuff (we can set up reoccurring annual and semi-annual reminders!), etc. Totally awesome.
That’s great — I’m definitely going to set one up for us. Thanks, Maggie!
A follow up note on the Google calendar reminders. What sparked it for us was trying to keep track of home maintenance, car maintenance and all of our things and kids things. Mrs. SSC found a site that imported a generic home maintenance schedule into your calendar so now we don’t have to worry/remember that stuff. Way more efficient than our refrigerator calendar system. :) Although we still use that too.
That sounds pretty handy!
Have you listened to Tim Kreider’s “Lazy: A Manifesto”? It’s my anthem – I put it on at least once a month, sometimes weekly. I’m pretty sure I have it memorized, but it’s ALL about the manufactured busyness that so many people like to hang their hats on. Before I retire, I’m going to find a way to share it at a staff meeting ;)
I haven’t — but I’m going to look it up now! We are huge believers that just framing ourselves as “busy” has a detrimental effect on our mental health — and our health health! So we refuse to keep doing that. But that’s not to say that we use all of our time well. :-)
This is one of those topics that people deal with virtually all the time and don’t even know it. Time management isn’t just an office-related topic, after all. As you’ve so eloquently pointed out, one’s ability to manage time effectively directly relates to how productive or accomplished one feels at the end of the day.
For me, once I started slowing down my life, all of this time management stuff literally fell right into place without really having to think too much about it. You’re almost forced to think about things in a whole new way (and sometimes, that means actually thinking about it altogether!).
I instantly become aware of exactly what I’m doing pretty much all the time because I’ve learned to be “in the moment” more. I don’t do things just to do things any longer. It is kinda tough to explain, but it just feels like I’m more “there” now than in the past, and it’s helped tremendously in my ability to go about my day.
The slower that I go, the easier it is to ensure that none of my time is truly wasted.
I definitely agree with you that it’s not just an office project. What’s funny is when it’s “our time” (not work hours), we’re much better about being intentional about how we want to spend the time. It’s during the work day or during work travel when we get that whirlwind feeling of, “Whoa, where did all the time just go?” Your point about slowing down is a great reminder. Thanks!
I usually don’t stress about having to do things or having to get things done by a certain time. The way I see it, if it needs to get done, I or someone else will get it done. No point in sweating it. I definitely value my time and pay myself first as well (we have a similar philosophy with money). I am the poster child for laziness! I can’t wait to have the freedom to do more lounging around whenever I want to. That said, life does get bogged down with ‘stuff’. It can be overwhelming at times to keep track of it all (especially when you add dependents to the mix). We also use Google Calendar to keep our schedules aligned. I also use it to place our reminders in there. It’s worked well for us!
I like that philosophy — if it needs to get done, it will get done. :-) If only that would fly at work, too! And we’re on the same page with laziness! I don’t think of laziness as wasting time so long as it’s intentional. When it’s just mindless time wasting during the work day, that’s when I get grouchy about it. :-)
Good to distinguish between time and money 👍👍
I think this is one thing I have down pretty well. I think because I freelance there is no idle time, or I limit it I guess (although I greatly value leisure and exercise). I think because I have a passion around helping my business grow , I just make every second count. I think also being in my 40’s..times a ticking. lol!
I think your point about passion is huge. It’s YOUR business, it’s YOUR passion, so there’s less tendency to procrastinate and waste time. We don’t have that since we work for other people, but maybe we can find a little more passion to push us through these last few years. And we’re not super far behind in age, so I definitely understand! :-)
What a beautiful photo!
I had never thought about money and time in this way. I was only convinced that I had a choice – either time or money. But not both. I’m going to try this deep breathing “I have lots of time” thing : ) I could use a paradigm shift when it comes to time. Great post.
Thanks! That photo is my favorite. It makes me look much cooler than I am. :-)
Try the “lots of time” mantra and let us know how it goes! It works really well for us!
Hi guys! I’m back! :) This post is an eye-opener for me, I haven’t really thought about valuing my time in the same way I do with my money. I guess the only instance I think about time is when I’m cramming to finish a task and immediately regret not treating time with much respect. Other than that, I wouldn’t give it much thought. This is why this post made me panic a bit and do some heavy breathing. Hehe! I’m not sure whether I’m doing well managing my time or I’m not doing anything at all that’s why I don’t worry about it. Haha! In saying that, I like having lists. I like it when I get to strike out a task on my list. I will always have a set of daily or a weekly tasks written on post-its on my desk. And on weekends, I can’t really go out unless I’ve done my chores – I guess this one is a force of habit. I tried using a list kind of app as well, but I found my post-its to be more effective. :)
Great photo, btw! How long did it take you to get there?!
Yay! Welcome back! You know we miss you, right? :-) If how you spend time doesn’t stress you out, then I wouldn’t say this should be high on your list of “new things to worry about” — it just feels like a big irritation to us that we use some of our time wastefully (I’m not talking about lazy time — that is worth it! Just the mindlessly wasted time), so we want to get better about that.
Thanks for the note on the picture! That was a multi-day trip, but the actual mountain climb was just one day. So near the top, where I am in the picture (being photographed by Mr. ONL on the summit), was probably early afternoon?
I think money is easier to keep track of because you can count it, but ultimately money is just a representation of your time. I think that’s why that movie In Time (Justin Timberlake, didn’t get great reviews but I loved the premise) resonated with me so much, we all have a ticking clock that will expire some day and while we convert those minutes into dollars to live, we only need so much and we need to make sure we don’t spend too much time in pursuit of the almighty dollar.
We didn’t see that movie — will check it out! And you’re so right: there’s much more to life than chasing a buck. Good to remember that!
Oh well this is so wonderful – thank you for the shout out, and for the awesome perspective.
I’ve found that with the extra time I’m dedicating to blogging these days, I need to be extra mindful about carving out quality time to spend with my boyfriend and the dog. They’re 100% still my priority, but it can be so easy to look at a monster to-do list and spend your time chipping away at that – instead of focusing on time spent nurturing the relationships that really matter to me. (Hmmm, sounds a little bit like your post about taking care of your relationship like you would an asset, haha.)
Thanks, Des! So true that it requires EXTRA mindfulness as we take on more. We’re in the same boat right now, between work, work travel, the blog, and some local advocacy work we’re doing. (I even had to postpone my holds on a bunch of library books in recognition that I just won’t have time to read them — I know you understand!) And that’s a wonderful point about nurturing those relationships. Maybe we all need to actually put that on our to do lists!
I think because my time is so precious between my company, my son, my hubby and my social life (which usually gets the short end of the stick), I am pretty good at being mindful of my time. I actually have to “allow” myself some mindless time because I do believe that all work and no play makes me a dull girl and I can sometimes focus too much on the work and not enough on the living and enjoyment of the work.
Wow — we definitely envy your focus skills. Periods of extended focus are more the punctuation for us, and less the sentence, so we envy those for whom it comes naturally. But you raise a great point that those who are naturally focused might have to actually make time mindfully for some play and lazy time!
Of course, I loved this post! I get stuck in unproductive and negative thought loops when I feel like I’m wasting time. I’ve had to work hard to train myself out of this self-destructive reflex. I’ve applied the philosophy y’all talk about in the “busy mindset” bullet point … Taking a deep breath and letting go of beating myself up. Once I step back and think rationally, I usually am able to come to the realization that frustration over time management isn’t going to solve my time management issues; it’s just going to make me frustrated and upset.
My “default” mindset is to wake up first thing in the morning and start feeling rushed. I hate that the first thing I do is reach for my cell phone and look at my work calendar for the day. I’ve lately been trying to practice getting up, getting out of bed, sitting down at our bar, and drinking a glass of water (with lemon!) before I do anything – before touching a cell phone or a computer, before thinking about breakfast or brewing coffee. Just letting myself sit. Sometimes I think and other times I just sit and enjoy doing nothing for a few moments at the beginning of the day.
Like y’all, I’ve been trying to see where my time goes. One of my biggest time saps is the computer. I can sit down and let two hours pass without batting an eyelash. Now, I am forcing myself to WRITE DOWN the time when I sit at the computer and force myself to get up in half an hour. If I’m writing, I just get up and fill up my water or use the bathroom, then resume work for another half an hour block. But often, I find that after half an hour of perusing and catching up on posts, I’m cashed out and need to go do something else. This is helping greatly with figuring out where my time goes. I tend to feel a lot more productive if I do a variety of things in one weeknight rather than sitting and blogging for hours or spending all night cooking.
I can relate to all of this, especially feeling rushed first thing in the morning. It’s especially tough because we live in the west and work for employers in the east, so our email is usually blowing up already by the time we wake up.
I LOVE your idea of writing down the time when you’re at the computer and moving around more. I think it must be a lot like money in that great awareness will lead to better habits.
I’ve found that being concious of my different types of productivity have really helped maximize use of my time. It helps that my job is pretty flexible – for the most part, they just want the work completed. I always seem to lose focus at certain points during the workday. Before I started blogging, I would “use” this time on Facebook and just wandering around on the internet. Now, I interact with other bloggers (like right now) and work on my own blog posts. I would have ended up bringing some work home with me on the weekends anyways, so at least now I get more productive use out of my day.
I love that you’ve found an approach that works for you! Productivity is the best feeling. We still have a long way to go on not working on the weekends, but even if we fail at it, at least we don’t have much longer to worry about that problem! :-)
I absolutely LOVE the idea of calculating how much a day of retirement “costs”. This is brilliant! My husband can work pretty much as much overtime as he likes so it’s easy for him to justify purchases in the mindset of “This thing cost me X hours of overtime”. We should figure out how much an hour of OT will be “worth” in 5 years once we’re retired so he can decide if he’d rather spend it now or “save” it for later!
But then again it’s a double-edged sword — so much of his free time today is given up in the name of ER. We’re still trying to find that delicate balance.
I love the idea of putting those overtime hours into future day terms! But you’re so right — balance is hugely important. The journey to ER is long, and you’ve got to pace yourselves and give yourselves enough rewards along the way to make it feel worthwhile!