As a child, my first inclination was always to spend any money I had on candy, especially Blow Pops, as it was like getting two pieces of candy for the price of one. My grandfather tried to instill in me the importance of saving. Anytime I received money as a gift or from cutting grass, he would say “pay yourself first”. He repeated this often, so I knew it was important but I’d always taken that lesson to be a purely financial one.

It wasn’t until recently that I saw how it applied to the most value asset I have: time. As a developer, it’s so easy to spend countless hours debugging or coding away on something and completely lose track of time. I have a tendency to develop “tunnel vision” when working on something. No phone calls, no visits, no breaks.

This approach has had negative effects. Other deserving projects fell behind schedule (for example, it’s taken me far longer to tile the floors in my house). My frustration began to mount as I evaluated my lack of progress in the past year. I was allowing one thing (work in this case) to block my progress on anything else. At the peak of my discontent, my thoughts turned to my grandfather and what he would say to me.

“Son, pay yourself first”.

I held his image and those words in my head. Not only was I not paying myself first in terms of time, I wasn’t paying myself at all. I had resolved that I would “get around to it” but never did. I immediately stopped what I was doing, changed clothes and went to play golf (something I love but don’t do very often anymore).

Many aspects of our lives require our attention and it’s important to give each the attention it deserves. Self care is part of that so make sure you pay yourself first.

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