How to Use a Time Windfall

Let’s think for a couple of minutes about what to do if you get a time windfall. If all of a sudden due to some circumstances, job change, a move, a pandemic or something, you all of a sudden have more free time.

One of the principles I want to bring to bear is what to do if you have a financial windfall. One of the things that you ought to do, for instance, if you get a raise of 5% is don’t raise your standard of living by 5%. You should raise your standard living by 2.5% and save or invest the surplus. So you never increase to the same level of your financial gain. You try to always save a portion of that gain.

I would suggest that’s partly how you approach a time windfall. So for whatever the reason, let’s say you find yourself with some free time. A chunk of time. Maybe a trip got canceled or you find yourself between jobs or you have a leave of some kind or just a task disappears for a week. All of a sudden, something big you thought you had to do, you no longer have to do. What should you do with that surplus time?

Well, let’s say that ten hours is freed up or even a hundred hours frees up somehow. Do not take all of that time and squander it in pure leisure. Yes, use some of it for rest. Use half of it for rest and recreation, for sure. Do some special things with your family, with your spouse, and with some friends. Invest that time relationally or in your soul in some way.

But then with that other half of the windfall, as you do with the other half of a financial windfall, invest it wisely in some way. Here’s some things that, that you might want to think about.

Some things that I have done and am doing as I’ve found myself a little bit of elbow room in this season due to cancelled holidays, less travel and just being more localized. It saves a lot of time, so there is this time windfall.

Number one, I would highly suggest with the surplus of time that you do some kind of topic immersion. If you’ve only got five hours freed up that you can invest well, buy a book by a seminal book on a key topic of interest and a relevance to you and read the book. Go online, read the author’s blog or listen to the podcast and just immerse yourself in a topic.

There are a lot of podcasts you can find that you can just subscribe to and listen to a stack of one podcast and get immersed in a topic. You can also do this on a YouTube channel. What I like to do if I find a topic I really want to go after is purchase some kind of online training. Typically it doesn’t have to be expensive, but just laying out a bit of money will amp up the quality of what you’re getting and will amp up the attention that you give it.

I’ve been doing that in these recent months in the area of videography. I’ve never been much of a photographer. I kind of take snapshots when we’re out and about, and because I take so many pictures, I get the odd good one, but don’t have a clue about photography. Since I’ve had to start producing video sermons for multiple churches, I have purchased new camera. I’ve done all kinds of online training and subscribed to all kinds of YouTube channels on videographers.

I’ve got a new camera, a new computer, some editing software, and I’m just immersed in that area. I’ve gone from probably the 10th percentile of knowledge and skill I’ve climb the ladder through the 50% line and might be somewhere around the 70, 80% line of your knowledge and skill when it comes to video. Of course it’s that final 10% that’s really tough, but I’m at the adequate level, as far as video production, which has been very worthwhile for me. It’s something that’s going to carry through for a long time.

The second thing you might want to do with the time windfall is to move from being a consumer, to being a creator. In other words, instead of just taking in content and listening to podcasts and watching YouTube channels, maybe it’s time for you to start one. It is so easy now to start your own channel on whatever social media platform you choose. Again, podcast for audio, blogs for writing, YouTube for video, pick a channel, a channel that works for you and start producing content, tied to an area of interest and passion and see where it takes you.

It might turn into something more, but it will certainly crystallize your thinking. There’s nothing like producing content for someone else to help you really know and understand what you actually believe and what you actually know about something. And just remember, there are always more beginners in a topic area than experts. So cater to the beginners with a with a little bit of content for those who are further advanced and begin creating some content. It’s a great use of time.

Now, just a smattering of other things. You might want to digitize your files in your office. Get a good scanner like a Fujitsu ScanSnap, which I use and have digitized mountains of files. I’m still not done, but I’ve been working on it in some measure for years, kind of chipping away at it. But I have over 10,000 documents that I have scanned that are now digitized.

All I need to do is bring my laptop. In fact, all I need to do is bring my phone because they’re in the cloud. I can access my sermon illustration file of more than 6,000 documents, all kinds of reference material all of the sermons I’ve ever preached since I started typing them up. They’re all online and I can access them. Being digitized like that just makes it easier to access material and to prepare further content.

I’ve been doing the same thing with photographs, making sure they’re organized and digitized. I’ve been phoning some friends. I’ve been working on getting my taxes ahead of the game for the first time in modern history. I’ve been looking at the idea of doing a dopamine fast, where you just kind of unplug from things like video in that gives you a dopamine hit. News would often be included in that and going cold-turkey on some of that. We’ve done some restrictions in that we don’t view or read the news in our home right now until after 5:00 PM. While we’re watching something else, I will usually scan the news on my phone, so we’ve kind of reduced that.

There’s all kinds of things you can do. And maybe in the midst of it, you will discover a hobby that will bring you ongoing refreshing or a hobby that will turn into a side hustle. Something that actually makes you a little bit of money.

Maybe this time windfall is a time to write that book you’ve been thinking about to outline it and start writing it. I wrote my first book, the first draft, in 14 evenings at the dinner table after dinner. Once you get the first draft down, then it’s a matter of rewriting it and refining it and getting the job done.

So that’s just a kind of a shopping list of things you can do with the time windfall with the two top idea being 1) a topic immersion of an area of interest and relevance and 2) moving from being a pure consumer of content to a creator of content and starting your own blog, podcast or video channel.

Wisdom to you as you seek to use whatever time you do have. If you’re starting something new and fresh in a season of some extra time, let me know what you’re doing. I’d love to hear what you’re doing and how you’re making use of whatever time windfall you might find. Thanks for listening. God bless, press on

2 thoughts on “How to Use a Time Windfall”

  1. Not surprisingly to you no doubt, the word “discipline” comes to mind. Making a commitment to do something creative and productive in the midst of a time windfall. I like the concept. Most of us never think in terms of a time-windfall because we’re always busy — with something. Thanks for calling our attention to “redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16). It’s gryeat to have time for reflection, contemplation, and meditation in one form or another, but it’s important to use those reflections in some form of productivity.

    • Amen to that, Ed! I find that thinking of time much like money, though more valuable and irreplaceable has helped me a lot in this regard.


Leave a Comment