The value of time

Remember when there was endless time?

As a child summer holidays went forever but over the years things have sped up... Put me in front of a judge and I would swear there are less hours than there used to be.  "Your honour I'm telling you, someone stole half my day!" Of course the evaporation of time (I mean really, where did 2017 go?) is an illusion. It isn't a case of there being less days or weeks, the problem is we are all trying to cram more and more into the same allotted hours.  

When I was in kindergarten my sole concern was what game I was going to play next and maybe food. Over the years I have steadily accumulated a semi trailer load of responsibilities that consume my waking hours. And as a result time has become the ultimate commodity. Time is freedom. Time is white space. Time is choice. And I'm not alone. Who wouldn't want to press the pause button a little more often? Step of the treadmill and go for a relaxed meal, take a leisurely bath, read a book, play the guitar, work on their secret passion... all those things that get sidelined as a result of the important, the necessary, the urgent. 

In my last blog I touched on the fact that most of us spend a whole heap of time (like 30-40% of our day) in front of screens. Much of this overlaps with our work though, which happens to be the second greatest consumer of our time. Now most of us grow up accepting a job is necessary part of life. Which given the need for food, clothes, school fees, transport and housing it is. If we want to participate in the world in any meaningful way then money is mandatory. Yet the acquisition of money doesn't tend to stop at the point of "enough." There is an overwhelming desire for more. It doesn't just provide us with security, it also translates into experiences, pleasure, comfort and power.

Now the interesting thing about money (and having more of it) is that research actually suggests that while mulla does contribute to happiness the positive correlation actually wears off at the point where our needs are met. Which in Australia and US is around $60-80K per year. Beyond that the impact on our level of wellbeing stagnates or diminishes. I find this quite an interesting insight considering our fixation on wealth and accumulation. Why do we push for more and more and more if there is no positive impact on our overall happiness?

At its basic level work is a bartering of time/skills for money. For every hour you give of said time and skills you will get a certain amount of money in return. You then take that money and trade it in for food, drink, housing, transportation, hobbies, holidays... So let's say you earn $20 an hour (after tax) - that sandwich you bought at lunch cost you 30 minutes of your time, the new television 40 hours, your phone another 45 hours and that lovely new car - well now we are talking in weeks or months. 

The thing is by the time we receive our hard earned cash we're generally not thinking in terms of hours spent. We're thinking - "I work so hard I deserve". "Life is so busy I need this." "Everyone else is buying one so..." What we tend to forget though is that with every purchase we aren't paying with cash, we're paying with time. The time we exchanged to get the money in the first place. 

Now as Confucius said "do something you love and you'll never work a day in your life". And if that's the case well money is simply the sweet fruit of your labour! And cudos to you. That is really where we should all be aiming. If however, you find work a chore, that it eats up far more time than you would ever like it to, that you are wishing away your days, or just feel that you could be doing something better then it is seriously worth considering what you're bartering your time for. And what you spend your money on.

Are those purchases worth the hours you spent getting in the office or away from home? Could you work less or retire earlier if you didn't trade up cars and houses? If you contented yourself with your current wardrobe? If you didn't get your nails done or that nightly bottle of wine? And would you need all those things to feel good if you weren't working so much or the goal post was closer? My guess is no... 

Time is money they say - but actually money is also time. Your time. Spend it wisely and savour it wisely. Rather than throwing days and weeks and months of your life on bandaid purchases to make you feel temporarily better why not use that money to buy back some of those months and years and do something you truly love.

 Image courtesy of Pixabay

Image courtesy of Pixabay