Today we’re going to explore the value of time and how we value our own time. There’s a lot of components that go into this especially in terms of the where, when, and how often we make good use of our own time. And when we do, are we aware of what the return on that investment is?
And this is time in the construct of busy. When you talk to people, they are often telling you in person, or online, or just through subtle signals about how very, very busy they are. You see, busy, it’s such a buzzword. And what it really is for most of us is some semblance of a boundary of saying: I just can’t take on more. In order for me to feel like you are going to accept that, I’m going to tell you that I am busy.
In addition to that social conditioning, we are also often hyperconscious of the clock itself. The Bottom Line on Top of this episode is how we spend our time reveals how we value our time.
Let me start with a question directly to you: If you have the chance to purchase an hour of time (in this day today or an upcoming day), how would you spend that extra hour in your day?
So, all of a sudden, you have a bonus hour. You can do anything you want with that hour. What’s the first thought that came to mind?
When I ask this question, especially in large groups, I get a lot of answers. There’s people who want to sleep. There’s the ambitious folks who say that they will exercise. There’s a few honest people who say they will use it to catch up on work and, most likely, email. And then there’s the aspirational ones of us who say, “Oh, I’m going to do something with friends and families and entertainment. Things I never get to on my fun list.” And that’s all well and good when you have that bonus amount of time.
My question to you is you consider what popped in your head about how you would spend it is: How much would you invest to have that hour?
Now it’s an interesting question. For a lot of people, they usually say, “Well, it depends, Kristin. If I’m going to sleep, it would have this amount of value” or “If I’m going to work, I might be able to get a return on that through revenue or productivity or just mental wellbeing.” And then there’s others who say, “Oh, if I have time with friends and families and loved ones that’s immeasurable.” And that’s all true because the value of that time is whatever it means to you.
It’s very interesting, however, when we start trying to put a price on what we often donate for free – meaning, our time. There is a lot of minutiae in our minutes. But when we really try to look at a construct of an hour, it becomes a larger indicator of where we put our value system.
A lot of us go who about our busy, busy day can then spend at least an hour frittering away our free time. I heard someone described it as ‘my revenge bedtime.’ I finally get down with all of the daily have-to’s and then I stay up later than I should indulging in whatever it is – online screen time, shopping, etc. because it’s finally time that I have just for myself. Of course, there is always a cost to these decisions. But really putting the value piece back into it, it’s an interesting component to think about what you would trade for that if you had to monetize it.
Now, for the average professional worker working a 40-hour work week, making about $75,000 U.S. dollars, the average amount of an hour pay is $38. $38 that’s what we would trade our time for an hourly position or the value of that hour.
I ask this question recently to a group of entrepreneurs, people who had intentionally gone into business for themselves. And the answers range from $1,500 for that extra hour to another person saying $0 because having that extra hour would stress me out so much, was the sentiment, that I almost don’t want it.
And that really is the basis of this conversation. What is the cost not just in terms of cognitive hard dollar cost but the emotional expenditure of that energy that comes from having time where we need to make a decision on it. So it’s an interesting question as you look at the time not just during the regular days, but also in the days that we have where there are other elements involved – whether it is coming up on holidays, or weekends, or vacations. Where are the elements that we find ourselves struggling with the investment of that hour? And more importantly, do we find that we’re getting that return on the investment that we are spending.
Let’s just assume that you’re happy with this bonus bulk of time. There are two tools I would try out to give you an indication of how can you check in on that time and see where there is a boost for you. Now, for those of you wanted that hour for sleep, please happily ignore these other two tips.
For those of you who find yourself with unexpected free time, a meeting or an event cancels, plans all of a sudden get shifted and you’re thinking, “What would I do with all these wonderful time?” Sometimes that in of itself is a little overwhelming.
So if you’re really trying to think about what if I could compress and comprise extra time, a couple of thoughts. Episode 19 talks about the benefits of a 10 Minute Kickstart. This is specifically around there is something I want to start, something I want to complete, something that’s nagging me, something I’ve been distracted by or intentionally procrastinating on. That episode really gets into the momentum of time in short bursts. So in the course of an hour, you can have a lot of opportunities to make progress while freeing your mind from the burden of completion.
Another tip I want to give you here just to consider and it can be for any category that you’re thinking at is the value of a Superthink. That’s where you dedicate 20(ish) minutes and you allow yourself the space to choose a primary question that you either sit with and have your own brainstorm or there is a specific task you want to tackle within that component similar to that Kickstart – a little bit longer so you get a little bit meatier.
Or where you bring the other others, your own mental board of directors or peers and colleagues and fellow learners who can come together and almost have a bit of a hot seat: “Hey, here is something I’m thinking of. Let me give you a quick overview and I would love to get the power of your collective thinking.” I’ve also seen it be very effective for those who are considering whether it is changes, ideas, or just space to daydream. 20 minutes off the clock so that you can enjoy the capacity of thinking.
Those are two elements as you’re looking to invest in the time that you now find yourself in. You can look towards how can I spend a few minutes, how can I spend a larger element and luxury of thinking.
So as you’re considering giving yourself the gift of time, I hope you value the time that you give yourself. And in that time, I hope you also make time to take good care.