“I wanted to do that but I didn’t have time!“. Have you heard yourself say this before? I am certain everyone did at some point. We all wish we have the time to do the things we want. 24 hours is not enough for a day!
But think about other people whom you admire. Perhaps its someone who leads a successful business, or someone who produces amazing works of art. These are people who spent a lot of time practicing and honing their skills. How did they find time to do these things? Why am I not as skilled as them even though all of us had the same number of hours in a day?
Time and Money
Time is the ultimate non-renewable resource. Once a second has passed, it can’t be brought back again. We are on a single lane through life, and we are moving whether we like it or not. Time cannot be stopped. Time does not wait for you to get your act together.
Money is the ultimate renewable resource. Money has existed in various forms since humans started trading. From stones, pebbles, precious metals, up to paper, plastic and bytes, we have used them to obtain the things we need and want. Unlike time however, money is not linear in a sense that it does not change in one direction at a constant rate.
You can earn money at any rate possible, depending on the willingness of others to give you theirs. If you have a $10 per hour job, you can choose to work for 8 hours, 12 hours, or more. If your skills are in high demand, you can even earn hundreds or even thousands per hour. We can control how money comes and goes into our lives at a much greater capacity than how we use our time.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we can just purchase time, which does not scale, with money, which does? In a metaphysical sense, this is impossible to do, but in a practical sense, this can be achieved. But how?
“Buy” other people’s time
If you have a job, you are basically exchanging your time for money. This is also the reality for a vast majority of people. Given this, we can do the exact opposite, which is exchange our money for other people’s time.
If you feel like there is not enough time in your day, evaluate where your precious time is being spent on. To do this, grab a piece of paper (or your text editor) and for every day of the week (Sunday to Saturday), list down the main activities that you do each day and the approximate time spent on each.
An example of this is shown below:
- Sleeping – 8 hours
- Eating – 2 hours
- Watching TV – 2 hours
- Household chores – 4 hours
- Laundry – 2 hours
- Sleeping – 8 hours
- Eating – 2 hours
- Work – 9 hours
- Commute – 3 hours
Looking at the above example, examine which of the items can be taken off your plate and assigned to another person. Let’s say that on weekends, you found that you are doing house-related chores most of the day. Do you find doing it a good use of your time?
If not, then think of what you can do with that time. Will an extra 4-8 hours on the weekend enable you to do other things that will move your life forward, like improving your skills and relationships? If that is the case, then perhaps it is a good idea to just hire a helper during the weekends to help you with household activities.
Optimize your skill set
“Buying time” is not just limited to physical tasks or chores. There is also a lot of things we can do by looking at our skill set.
If you are an entrepreneur (especially for smaller companies), then you are wearing multiple hats at the same time. These may include product development, support, management, sales, accounting, and so on. Tackling these areas in your business by yourself is not only draining, but also an inefficient use of your time.
Determine which task or area of your business you feel least compelled to do. One way to tell is if you feel a certain dread or sigh “here we go again…” before you start a task. For these tasks, are there others who can do them, and do them for a living?
A common example is accounting work. If you do not look forward to doing your books again for the last quarter, perhaps it is time to hire an external service to do the accounting for you. Not only are they able to do it with less time, but they can also do it more efficiently. It is their career after all!
Another potential task that could be “bought” is software development. If you spent hours trying to debug an annoying WordPress problem you were valiantly trying to solve, that may not be the best use of your time. Hiring an expert in that domain can troubleshoot and fix it for you magnitudes faster. Your freed-up time can then be used to further develop your business or generate additional sales, which is far more valuable than fixing issues in software.
Is “buying time” worth it?
You may be thinking “That sounds good, but hiring others are expensive! I can do it cheaper if I do it myself!“. But is that accurate?
Let’s say you have a job that pays $15 per hour. Looking at our previous example, we spent around 6 hours over the weekend doing household chores. If we use the same hourly rate at our job, then that is $90 per week, or roughly $360 per month. I would bet that you can hire a house helper that will do these chores for you for way less than that.
If you are a business owner, then this is even more significant as you are not limited to a fixed hourly wage. The success of your business rests on you getting clients, closing deals, and establishing partnerships. Spending hours doing tasks that you can delegate to external services, like accounting, software, and support can free up your time to do your most important job: to build your business.
Make it worth it!
This comes with an important note: to realize the benefits of “buying time”, that additional time needs to be spent on things that are useful and beneficial. If you freed up your time, only to spend it browsing social media on your smartphone, then you have not really reaped the benefits. Instead, use this opportunity for improvement: improving your health, wealth, and relationships.
Photo by Micheile Henderson on Unsplash