Time is Money and Its Way More Expensive Than Expected

Opinions expressed by businessman the collaborators are theirs.

How many times have you heard the phrase “time is money?” Or some version of the statement: “time is the most valuable thing in the world?”

Have you ever stopped to think about what these statements mean? And if they are real, why do so many of us still waste so much time doing things that aren’t necessarily valuable?

Every second counts when you’re an entrepreneur and it always seems like there’s never enough time in the day. The world is moving faster than ever and our attention is needed in several places at once. We need to be more protective of our time than ever. We’ve already seen this start with actions like skipping preliminary company meetings, setting limits on our work hours, or simply using our free time more productively.

Again: each. second accounts

The price of time

Have you ever thought about the value of your time? Better yet, how would you change your daily habits if you knew how much it’s worth? You can break it down like many things into a simple equation.

Let’s start with the basics and work through an example.

You have two types of time: productive and leisure.

To understand productive time, let’s hypothetically say your salary is $100,000 (anything above that would put you roughly in the top 24% of US workers). Then we take the average number of hours worked in a year as 2,080, roughly 40 hours for the 52 weeks of the year, excluding holidays, sick days, etc. In this scenario, it is worth $48 per hour.

Now you want to set a future goal for yourself: let’s say to be 150% further along in life than you currently are. So we apply a 1.5x multiplier, which brings us to $72 per hour. This is your productive time.

And then there is leisure time. No matter how hard we try, we can’t be productive 100% of the time. So we also have to account for leisure time. Think of it as any time you slack off or aren’t moving forward in your earning potential. Using the same equation, we discount our time by 40%, which puts us at $29 per hour.

Real life examples

still with me Let’s look at some real-life scenarios to put this into perspective.

Productive time

We all have those meetings on our calendar that we dread going to and consider a “waste of time.” Well, how do you know? These meetings are usually already overcrowded. Let’s say seven assistants make $100,000 a year. This one-hour meeting is costing the company $504. If you don’t think the discussion is worth it, I can’t think of a better way to convince management that it’s costing the company more to maintain it.

Free time

Have you ever watched an entire season of a popular show? Take “Game of Thrones” for example. Using our equation, if we count this as our free time, the total length of GOT to watch is approximately 71 hours. Using our free time calculation means running the entire show would cost us $2,100. Whereas, if we use that time for productive media, the total value would come to a whopping $5,112.

Related: 5 Ways to Spend More Time on Your Small Business

It’s a wake-up call to see the numbers presented this way. If a friend insisted that you have to watch a great new show, but the cost was $5,000, would you do it?

The only thing that has changed in this scenario is that someone has forced you to put a monetary value on the activity. Once you can train your brain to see the point, that’s when you experience a tipping point. So how can the cost of spending be turned into growth investment?

It’s time to change our perspective

People often think, “Do I want to do more with my life” or “Am I reaching my potential right now?” We challenge ourselves with these questions, but the answers are always hard to find. We struggle to find a way to associate these thoughts with measurable actions.

When we can put a price on something, it inherently has more value than something without commission. The old saying goes, “Price is what you pay; value is what you get.” Without a price, the value could be assumed to be zero.

Ultimately, when we can see the financial value of time, the more expensive it becomes, which leads to deeper attention to how we use it. I became so obsessed with this idea that I built software that calculates the value of my time and applies it to my entire personal and professional calendar. Do I recommend it to everyone? Not necessarily, but I recommend finding your balance. After all, no two people are exactly alike, and no two people can place the same amount of value on their time.

Don’t optimize, prioritize

If you think this all sounds a little overwhelming, don’t worry. Life can’t be all business, and you have to leave room for joy in life’s unexpected moments. Carving out time for yourself outside of growth and productivity is essential, as being too selfish with your time risks missing out on life’s most precious memories.

Trying to plan every last minute of the day is a common mistake, which some might describe as toxic productivity. While a date night may cost a lot more now, what if that date is your future spouse who quadruples your time in the future because you’re now the happiest person alive?

Similarly, what about that recurring meeting? Yes, it might be expensive, but it may have sparked an idea that could dramatically alter the direction of the company. Life is about making the decisions that feel right in the moment. You can’t continuously optimize, but you can start to prioritize where the real value is.

Related: Time management hacks that highly successful people practice daily

Make the change

When was the last time you watched a TV show, spent hours on a video game, or binged an entire season on Netflix? Surely not long ago, right? So ask yourself again, when was the last time you said, “I wish I had time?” Again, probably recently.

But ask yourself this: What might be different if you not only started thinking about time as a value, but if the world did? Imagine how many new technological innovations we will see. Imagine a more productive and healthy society.

Like anything, a life change has to start with a new habit. It’s hard to get started, but repetition makes everything easier, rather than just a few people in a room thinking about value and productivity. Ripples can become tidal waves. We can make significant differences in our lives and the world around us by restoring our relationship with time.

Remember that time is money and there is nothing more valuable than time. It’s time to start treating it that way.

Related: Time is money. Where are you spending yours?

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