BL&T No. 012: Leveraging Time as a Tool

Borrowed, Learned, & Thought (or BL&T) is a weekly newsletter sent on Mondays. In every edition, I share a borrowed idea (quote, excerpt), a lesson learned from the previous week, and a thought starter heading into the new week. Learn more and subscribe here.


"You can’t overestimate the value of making good initial decisions. Nothing sucks up your time like poor decisions ...

I think it’s important to focus on getting better at making decisions over time. It is about making the process slightly better than it was last time. These improvements compound like money."

Shane Parrish in an interview on Mental Models, Decision Making, Charlie Munger, Farnam Street, And More


Intuition vs. impulse. As I see it, understanding and experience drive our intuition. It's when we know what we need to do; we don't know always know why. Impulse is a reaction sparked by emotion and what we deem as "logic." The differences are subtle yet powerful. I found myself pondering this contrast as the weekend came to a close.

Dana and I took last week off to spend time with immediate family (safely in our bubble, of course). We weren't entirely sure when we were leaving town, so I chose to put off packing until hours before we left. As I was re-packing my belongings to return to Brooklyn on Sunday morning, I realized that I had everything I needed right in front of me. If I had to, I could go weeks without requiring anything from home.

I recalled the hasty, last-minute packing experience earlier in the week. What felt like a chaotic decision-making process was, in fact, quite thoughtful. With the pressure of leaving town in just a couple of hours, I had to prioritize and think efficiently. The result: I naturally packed only the items I valued most. It may have felt like an impulse, but I was acting on intuition.

This experience led me to reflect further on my decision-making habits and the role of time. I found that when a timeline is ill-defined, I make the most impulsive decisions. The extra time doesn't make me any happier or contribute to a better decision. Why? I devote more time to weighing the pros and cons than navigating my gut instincts and end up making a quick decision in the final moments. The process feels drawn out and stressful. In short, logic and emotion overpower instinct.

As I head into the week, my focus is to deliberately assign a timeline to every decision, no matter how trivial it may seem. The goal is to treat all decisions with proper focus and clarity.

Lesson? Time is often a constraint placed upon us. It can lead to good and bad outcomes. When we let time happen to us, it guides our actions, and consistency is challenging. If we leverage time as a tool, we regain control and can more clearly associate our actions with outcomes.

Thought Starter

Where have I used time as an excuse for a poor outcome?