Me & My Cell Phone: Time Spent or Time Invested?


One of my mentors recently challenged me to think through the difference between time spent and time invested.  We all get the idea that money invested is often better than money simply spent. We get the value of things that last. And some of us might even agree that if we looked at both a person’s wallet and his or her planner we’d know what that person values.

I think I might have found one other place that you could look in my life and tell what I value. Ugh. This is harder to admit that I thought:

I think you’d find out quickly what I value if you were to look at my cell phone bill.

Me & My Cell Phone: Time Spent or Time Invested?

It’s true! I am the data hog in my family. I am the one who is constantly looking for a charger because my battery is about dead again. I am the one who has thousands of photos, dozens of songs, and tons of apps.

I’m not saying that cell phones are in and of themselves bad. No more than money or activities. I’m just saying I’ve gotta start evaluating how I can move from time spent to time invested in the area of my cell phone.  Just like money or activities can be tools to invest in our lives, I need to figure out ways to get my cell phone use back into its rightful place as a tool in my life.

In no way do I have the corner on the market (and I would love your suggestions!), but here’s what I’m thinking:

Use it as a tool to connect.

I am the queen of the mindless social media scroll. So, for me, I need to stop spending time just scrolling and start investing in my relationships with people. Sometimes that means getting off my phone all together. But often, it simply means using my phone to connect with the real people in my life. I might need to send an e-mail to a co-worker who I know could use encouragement, a text to ask for some face-to-face time with a nearby friend, or social media messages to coordinate a getaway with my favorite girl cousins.

Use it as a tool to save or earn money.

I personally love Google Rewards, Target Cartwheel, etc. With Google Rewards, I take a survey every few days, earn Google Play credit, and use it to build our library of ultimate car singing tunes (we have finally moved beyond Frozen!). If you’re not sure how Target Cartwheel works, I’d be happy to give you a tutorial!

Use it as a tool to feed my mind and heart.

Right now, I’m choosing to invest some time by walking to work. It takes me about thirty minutes each way. I always charge my phone overnight so I’ve got a full battery in the morning. Currently, I’m alternating between Iowa Public Radio, messages from church communities, and various podcasts. It lets me be in my headspace and I’m able to think about my own thoughts without interruption (a rarity for moms!).

I don’t know what it will be for you — or even if your cell phone is the biggest challenge. But I do encourage you to consider:

Am I spending or investing my time [insert your situation here]?


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