(originally posted on Medium)

While thousands of tourists in Split, Croatia were enjoying Mediterranean bliss, a progressive 1100 were gathered to strengthen the tech-ecosystem of Southeastern Europe, and 1 person, this author, ended up learning a life-lesson on the nature of time itself.

Shift Split just concluded its 4th annual conference last week, and I’m grateful & inspired to have been a part. I met with Shift’s founder, Ivan Burazin, while he was taking his company Codeanywhere through Techstars Boston. Following great conversation about startups, programming, and cloud trends, he invited me to speak at his conference. Excited as I was to accept, I had no idea what a home-town hero, hustler, and entrepreneur Ivan truly is. Shift began when Ivan returned from an Austrian conference wondering “why can’t we have one in Croatia?… why not?” After four years of doubling attendance, from all parts of the region and beyond, it’s amazing what a little vision can do.

But between startup pitches, speeches & beaches, sailing, wining, and dining, I ended up learning something more about time. Specifically:

Time well-spent is the time that moves wrong.

You’ve lost yourself in the “flow” of good work or great conversation and wonder where all the time went: time well-spent. When days feel as full as weeks, and you realize “that was only just yesterday!”, and time seems to have moved slower: time well-spent.

We know that habitual activity doesn’t register the same in our memory. You made that coffee, you dressed yourself, you commuted to work, but do you remember how specifically? Conciousness is perhaps a sort of shark, if it ceases to experience the novel, when life becomes habitual, it dies, or at least it goes into a sleep. Time passes, but nothing is noted. Days filled with empty-calorie, non-experiences.

After 6 days in Split, engaged in fascinating conversation, I write this wondering “where all that time went”. And even though I can distinctly remember the details & schedule of every day, I remember being baffled that I could have learned so much, experienced so much, met so many amazing people, “all in just this one day!” — time extremely well-spent.

This trip has reminded me viscerally that with time, you can’t control if it’s spent, yet you do control how. When deciding how to spend your days, make time move wrong.