May 18, 2014 Carole Levy

Spare The Time!

In San Francisco, we have a website called Spare the Air, an air quality forecast to inform citizens about when to avoid using fire places and big barbecues.

 Sparing the air is not about saving good air for bad days. It’s about influencing the quality of the air by changing our attitude.

 What if we approached Time as a valuable resource like we are doing with Air? What if our issue with Time was less quantitative than qualitative?

 Too often, we think: “If I had more time, I’d be happier.” So we try to “spare” time by squeezing several activities into the same cramped space.


Or we disproportionally pack our days with tactical tasks, and leave no time to reflect, assess, anticipate, choose, and refocus. In other words, we avoid the one thing that every year in our work life we are asked to improve: being strategic.

Multi-tasking is counter-productive and keeping ourselves busy with tactical activities creates a lot of fatigue in our body. If we add the pollution of our mind chatter, we are not in good shape.

For example, we confuse our essential needs (like being authentic, connected, or creative) with the needs of our Ego (like being right, indispensable or in control). We don’t set appropriate boundaries.  We say “no” when we should say “yes”.


We say “yes” when we should say “no”.


We feel a malaise, but since we don’t know what to do about it, we divert our attention away from the real issues toward red herrings: “If only I had a different job, boss, spouse, colleague, body,” or “if I only I didn’t do this and had done that…”

Emotional triggers create black holes in our calendar – more time and energy wasted.


How humans spend their time has a direct impact on our environment/air. It seems urgent to me that every day we check in our internal Spare The Time barometer, and clean up all the fires and barbecue smoke that cloud our agenda.


I know, being self-aware is one more daily task on our to do list, but I guarantee you that, by improving the quality of how we spend our time, we will improve the quantity of our accomplishments and pleasures.

Note 1: “There are only two purposes for human beings – to love and to create. That makes everything simple. Don’t forget.” Angeles Arrien 1940-2014.

Note 2: To change the quality of your time, check in the Learning as Leadership workshops calendar. There is a module starting in July (part 1), with another one in May 2015 (part 2).

Comments (4)

  1. Mao

    I love the “spare the air” analogy. Great post.

    • David F

      Thank you for this valuable reminder… and, I must remember to ask you how you shuffle the papers with your feet; that’s a great tactic!

  2. Susan Isa Efros

    As always, charming and insightful. Food for thought. Writing this comment was definitely a good use of my time. Now I will go be loving and creative.

Comments are closed.


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