What we spend

Ever since I learned that the Dutch word for “to spend” (besteden) is used not just with time and money, as in English, but also with attention, I’ve started to wonder what else we have that we spend, and could be spending more wisely. Here is an incomplete list I’ve compiled:

  • Money (of course).
  • Time. Budgeting your time is another familiar concept to many of us.
  • Attention. The idea of an attention economy is especially relevant today as social media and advertising agencies vie for views and clicks.
  • Effort/energy. Have you heard the advice to manage your energy, not your time?
  • Willpower? It used to be generally accepted that you spend willpower doing difficult tasks and making decisions, leaving less for later, but that’s no longer certain.
  • Flexibility. This one I don’t see talked about so much. Have you ever tried to set up a time to get together with someone, told them “I’m free any day the week of the 15th” or something, and then been unable to make any other plans for that week while you’re waiting to hear back? Somehow you’ve spent all your flexibility at once. I try to ration it out—”Does the 15th, 17th, or 18th work for you?”—so that I still have some flexibility for making other plans.

What else do you spend? Thanks for spending your time and attention on my blog this year—see you in 2019!


6 thoughts on “What we spend

  1. The only one I could think to add (although I think your effort/energy is a pretty complex one that could be broken down into many parts… ) is influence or social cache- like you can really only call in so many favors in a period of time or recommend a certain number of things you love before people just assume you love everything (or vice versa- I get really burnt out on people who are telling me the 900 things I’m doing wrong whereas if the message was more focused on the most important things to avoid I might listen and implement more- (but that might go back to the attention thing a bit..)

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      1. I’m an “outgoing introvert” so yeah, I only have so much emotional energy to spend during a given period before I need to recharge in some reflective or quiet way!
        Also, what about space? I was thinking mostly of my garden, once the space is spent we can’t plant anything else that season, but I know you are familiar with very limited space in living quarters too! If you put one item in a room you’ve spent the space another item might have had?
        I clearly loved this post lol

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  2. I love the space one because it was really revolutionary for my organization of the props/costume hold to think of our storage space as a resource, just like the money in the budget, to consider when I decide what to keep. If we’re not going to use it for at least a year, it has to be a really nice/special piece that’s it’s not overall better to just make a new one the next time we need it.

    Another element to the social capitol is, well, favors from people, although this can be complex.

    A scarier one is “spending” your morality or good deeds, but some studies show that we give ourselves a “pass” on behaviors if we’re “already doing good things” in other areas.

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