Opinions expressed by londonbusinessblog.com contributors are their own.
How many times have you heard the phrase “time is money”? Or a version of the saying, “time is the most valuable thing in the world?”
Have you ever considered what those sayings mean? And if they’re authentic, why do so many of us still waste so much time on things that aren’t necessarily valuable?
Every second counts when you’re an londonbusinessblog.com, and it always feels 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 protect our time more than ever before. We’ve already seen this start with actions like skipping company preparatory meetings, setting boundaries in our work hours, or simply using our free time more productively.
Again: any. Second. counts.
The price of time
Have you ever really thought about the value of your time? Better yet, how would you change your daily habits if you knew how much it was worth? You can break it down like many things in a simple equation.
Let’s start with the basics and run through an example.
You have two kinds of time: productive and free time.
To understand productive time, let’s hypothetically assume your salary is $100,000 (anything above that would take you in about the top 24% of earners in the US). Then let’s take the average number of hours worked in a year at 2,080 – about 40 hours for the 52 weeks of the year, excluding holidays, sick days, etc. In this scenario, you are worth $48 an hour.
Now you want to set yourself a future goal – let’s say to be 150% further in life than you are now. So we apply a multiplier of 1.5x, which brings us to $72 per hour. This is your productive time.
And then there is free time. No matter how hard we try, we can’t be productive 100% of the time. So we also have to take free time into account. Think of this as any time you relax or don’t advance in your earning potential. Using the same equation, we cut our time by 40%, which brings us to $29 per hour.
Still with me? Let’s look at some real-life scenarios to put this into perspective.
We all have those meetings on our agenda that we dread and consider to be a ‘waste of time’. Well, how do you know? Usually those meetings already have too many people. Let’s assume seven participants earn $100,000 a year. That one-hour meeting costs the company $504. If you don’t think the discussion is worth it, I couldn’t think of a better way to convince management that it will cost the company more to keep it.
Have you ever watched the entire season of a popular show? Let’s take “Game Of Thrones” for example. Using our equation, if we count this as our free time, the total GOT time to watch is about 71 hours. Using our leisure calculation means managing the entire show would cost us $2,100. Whereas, if we were to use this time for productive resources, the total value would be a whopping $5,112.
Related: 5 ways to make more time for your small business
It’s a wake-up call to see numbers presented in this way. If a friend insisted you 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 forced you to attach a monetary value to the activity. Once you can train your brain to see the matter, you experience a turning point. So how can you convert the cost of spending into investment in growth?
It’s time to change our perspective
So often people think, “I want to do more with my life,” or “Am I reaching my potential 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.
If we can put a price on something, it has inherently more value than something without compensation. The old saying goes, “Price is what you pay; value is what you get.” Without price, one could assume that the value is zero.
Ultimately, when we can see the financial value of time, the more expensive it becomes, leading to a more in-depth focus on how you use it. I became so obsessed with this idea that I created software for myself that calculates the value of my time and applies it to everything on my personal and professional agenda. Do I recommend this to everyone? Not necessarily, but I advise you to find your balance. After all, no two people are exactly alike, and no two people can value their time the same.
Don’t optimize, prioritize
If you think this all sounds a bit overwhelming, don’t worry. Life can’t be all business, and you have to leave room for joy in life’s unexpected moments. It is essential to spend time for yourself outside of growth and productivity, because if you are too selfish with your time, you risk missing out on life’s most precious memories.
Trying to plan every last minute of your day is a common pitfall, which some might describe as toxic productivity. While a date night may cost a lot more now, what happens when that date is your future husband who quadruples your time in the future because you are the happiest person in the world right now?
How about that recurring meeting in a similar way? Yes, it may be expensive, but it may have sparked an idea that could drastically change the course of the company. Life is about making the decisions that feel right at the moment. You cannot optimize continuously, but you can prioritize where the real value lies.
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 on Netflix for an entire season? Probably recently, right? Then ask yourself again, when was the last time you said, “I wish I had the time?” Again, probably recently.
But ask yourself this question: what would be different if I not only started thinking that time has value, but what if the world did? Just imagine how many new technological innovations we would see. Imagine a more productive, healthier society.
Like anything, a change in life must start with a new habit. It’s hard to get started, but repetition makes everything easier, rather than just a few people in a space thinking about value and productivity. Ripples can become tidal waves. We can make meaningful differences in our lives and the world around us by resetting our relationship with time.
Remember: time is money and nothing is more valuable than time. It’s time we started treating it that way.
Related: Time is Money. Where do you spend yours?