6 Ways To Invest Your Time Better (And Get More From Life)

timeinvestment

The amount of time you have is finite. You can’t make more of it, you can’t buy more of it. But what you get out of your time, more often than not, has immense room for improvement.

Invest Your Time Better With This Framework

My 5 core principles of what makes something a good investment of time:

New habits you choose to start, should meet at least 2 of the following criteria:

  • It Contributes to personal growth
  • It Contributes to happines/mental well-being
  • It Contributes to health/physical well-being
  • It Contributes to financial well-being
  • It Saves time/increases efficiency

Investing money is commonplace. It’s accepted as a skill that takes time to learn and master. But time is your only constant commodity. No matter what happens, as long as you’re alive, you will have time on your hands. So why not apply some of the same principles to investment of time? Why not master the art of time investment?

Because I’m not a very finance driven person, I have chosen to focus on returns as not only being money, but mental and physical health, time savings and personal growth.

Let’s say you love reading. Focus on reading books that could help you grasp concepts you need to know about in your career of choice. Or you could read books that would help you spend less time on active studying or research.

An example of the other kind, would be finding a shortcut that saves you 2 hours every week. That way you have more time to spend on things you really love, grow as a person, or earn more money.

Save Time By Saving Money

You can think about investing time to save money in two ways: You reach your money goals faster. Whether that’s paying down your debts, or saving for a new car. And you get more value from the time you have already invested in making money.

Let’s say you spend 168 hours per month working to earn 3000$, but you spend everything every month. If you lower your expenses to 2000$ per month, that means your 168 hours became 33% more effective.

33% of 168 is 56, and it is highly unlikely that you will spend 56 hours per month saving that money. Another way to look at it, is the time you spend saving money, is actually you earning money.

If you spend 5 hours every week finding deals and improving on your spending. If at the end of the month, you saved 1000$, that means your hourly wage would effectively be around 50$. Almost three times the return on investment compared to your normal wage.

And it’s not like you have to rob your life of enjoyment to achieve lower savings either. If you absolutely HATE saving money, here’s a thing to consider. Do you dislike it more than working your current job?

Then compare the rates of the effective savings per hour of work you do, versus your hourly rate at your job. If you prefer working X hours over saving for one hour, that’s your call. You can ask for overtime, but when you’re in a spending mindset, it’s easy to spend every last cent you earn.

If you’re stuck in a job you don’t like out of necessity, increased saving is one of the best ways to enable yourself to leave the job faster. If you’re not familiar with his blog, I recommend you check out Mr. Money Mustache.

(He recently did an article on a low information diet but usually writes about frugality and good investments.)

When you focus on saving money, you teach yourself a clear “problem-solver attitude”. Teaching yourself to see several solutions to problems, and enable yourself to flex your creative muscles. Plus, if you master saving, you could teach people teach others the same techniques, and perhaps charge for it. So personal growth, potential for a side-business and extra money. Pretty good investment of time in my book.

Know When To Outsource

By this I don’t necessarily mean managing a team of employees in south east Asia… but also times when it’s better to hire a carpenter or a tiler than doing it yourself. If you find the work to be stressful, not giving in any way and you spend so much time on it that you would easily earn more working than you would end up paying for help, outsource.

Some people love to fix things themselves. They get fascinated with learning a new skill, and what makes things work or not work. If that’s you, by all means, don’t outsource. But if you’re like me, somewhere in between Ikea proficient and technical dyslexic, then sometimes outsourcing will be a clear best choice.

When it’s work related, if you can make more money hiring help than you can by not hiring help.. outsource. But realizing when it’s time is a different matter. Avoid teaching yourself new skills when you can hire someone to do it better.

Classic examples being web design, programming and even copywriting. If you’re an entrpreneury type, here’s the why and the what/when.

And when you’re arranging something social.. like a small get-together. If you know people that are better at cooking than you, that love to cook while you only tolerate it, just let them do it.. they probably want to! In situations like that, it’s more about letting people help you, than actual outsourcing.. but it can save you some real trouble on your quest to be a social butterfly.

Increase Efficiency And Follow The 80/20 Rule

Sometimes little things can make a large difference. I have 3 huge notepad files that are full of ideas. Each one has hundreds of ideas that I wrote down on topics to write about.

But I neglected to categorize them, something that would have taken a few seconds per idea, tops. So what I have now is essentially 3 more or less useless documents that I spent hours writing. If I had organized them, I could have saved myself time and increased efficiency when it comes to the writing process.

One of the things that inspired this line of thought, was Tyler Tervooren’s post on the 80/20 rule and business.

But I want you to find out what is most effective for you in other areas of life. Write down what makes you happiest, what enables you to relax the best. Then you can see which of those things are also contributing to other areas, such as personal growth

Perhaps a better example, is getting enough sleep. Not only does it contribute to your general health, you have more energy throughout your day, and less likely to become stressed/exhausted. There might be a few times in your life where you have to get something done as fast as humanly possible, but try to always prioritize getting enough sleep. 7 and a half hours a day is recommended.

Check out Tyler’s more recent post, about real life cheat codes that can save you a lot of time, money and effort.

Use Pockets Of Time (And Exercise Hacking)

Instead of letting these moments go to waste, there are a few things you could do. The easiest, most normal solution, is to read. Other alternatives include working out, learning a new language, quick meditation session or teaching yourself new skills little by little.

Another concept I like, is using pockets of time better. Hacking them, to magically get extra time to exercise. Let’s say that you take the bus to your job. The busride takes 15 minutes, and you usually have to wait for 3-10 minutes. If walking takes 40 minutes or less, consider walking. That way you get 40 minutes of exercise for a 15-20 minute investment. I’m not sure if this is applicable to other areas, if you can think of ways, please leave a comment.

Minimize

When you buy less stuff, you spend less money. But you also spend less time organizing all the stuff you have. If you’re like me and you still don’t have an overwhelming amount of stuff, cut down the biggest time drainers. Clothes is big for me. Although I don’t really like buying clothes, and rarely do so, a lot of them have amassed over the years.

Sell/donate or even throw away the clothes that you never use. Sell cooking utensils, pans and tools you don’t use. This is perhaps most relevant if you’re going to be moving multiple times in the future. Consider it a time investment

When it comes to gifts, you can request consumables or experiences. Like movie tickets, a dinner.. things that don’t clog up your living space. Some more benefits of minimizing.

Start A Profitable/Healthy Hobby

Or turn an existing hobby into one that earns you money, or makes you healthier. I could perhaps have put saving money under this category, but I felt it deserved one of it’s own.

Thinking of a profitable hobby can seem overwhelming at first. First of all, discard the notion that it has to be a “traditional hobby”. As long as it’s something you enjoy enough to want to do in your free time, and you earn money doing so.. consider it a profitable hobby.

It’s often easy to oversee the actual talents that could end up making you the most money. If you analyze your skill set, and then compare it to services other people are already selling online, or in person, that can give you a good idea of something that could work for you.

If you like teaching your friends, or strangers, new things, try tutoring. This is a hobby that starts out profitable , and as you become a better tutor you can increase your rates. If you’re a skilled musician, you can tutor  in that.. or anything else you may be skilled at. You can create unique paper airplanes and sell them on Ebay..  the possibilities are endless.

If you like fitness, you could be really effective. Or if you are really good at a specific sport. If you like it enough to be a coach, it can contribute to your health, happiness, wealth and personal growth all at the same time… more or less.

More examples of profitable hobbies. But I don’t want you to be constrained by that list. Find your own unique way to turn a profit with your hobby.

Starting a healthy hobby is pretty simple. If you have hobbies that could include physical exercise, include it. If you’re interested in a sport, try it. If you’re a secret martial arts enthusiast but never actually learned one.. learn one. You get the general idea.

The great thing about profitable hobbies, is with nurture and the right circumstances, they can become your career.

I’ve taken my blogging efforts and started offering freelance writing services. And I’ve started taking long relaxing walks again. And also playing the piano.

Share Your Ideas

What are your core principles for time investing? And according to them, what is your most rewarding activity?

13 Responses

  1. SJ Scott October 9, 2013 / 3:37 pm

    Ragnar,

    Great points here. Not enough people treat time as the valuable commodity that it is.

    One thought I always think about with regards to the value of time:

    You can always make more money; but you can never make more time

    • ragnar October 9, 2013 / 4:38 pm

      Hey SJ. That’s perfect. Thank you for sharing. It’s more important to make the most of your time! Btw, I love your domain name and concept. Good habits are extremely valuable and an integral part of time investing! 🙂

  2. Elle October 9, 2013 / 10:57 pm

    Great points Ragnar.

    Time just is, we don’t really manage it, we manage ourselves within it. We spend so much, including our time and our thoughts. Much better to invest. I’m with you on this.

    • ragnar October 9, 2013 / 11:15 pm

      Thanks for the kind words and for stopping by Elle. It’s easy to forget it because it’s rather intangible, but when you manage to spend it better, it makes a large impact on your life in general and your future.

  3. Leslie Trawler October 10, 2013 / 8:08 am

    This is a great post. For me, time is gold. So I always make sure that I use it wisely.

    • ragnar October 10, 2013 / 6:30 pm

      I am glad to see someone had the right idea, right off the bat! I wasted a lot of my time my whole life.. this whole post is sort of a reminder to myself on how I can and should spend my time better.

  4. Kevin Cole October 10, 2013 / 4:28 pm

    Time is the most precious commodity in the world. No doubt about it.

    Being extremely time conscious has helped me out more than anything else. I’m always aware of HOW I’m spending time and if it’s good or bad.

    Some really solid ideas in here man. Keep it up.

    • ragnar October 10, 2013 / 6:33 pm

      I think I might have been time conscious all along, and that’s part of why I felt so miserable when all I was doing was watching TV… Thanks man, I will!

  5. Randy October 11, 2013 / 7:10 pm

    First of all, “in between Ikea proficient and technical dyslexic”, dude, that is beyond hilarious!

    Your core principle of anything that contributes to happiness and mental well-being would definitely be at the top of my list for sure.

    Fortunately, I’m able to transform my job and other onerous activities into something that not only makes me happy but contributes to personal growth.

    Working at a hotel on the beach facilitates this process from many angles. Before and after work and during breaks I am a mere 200 steps or so away from the Gulf of Mexico. This provides ample opportunity for a quick “meditation session” to ground myself and get into the present moment…definite quality use of a pocket of time!

    Currently, personal growth includes learning a new language. I get lots of practice as many of the hotel staff speak Spanish.

    Meeting people from all over the world during a work shift keeps me living in the here and now by making a true connection with the person in front of me at the time.

    The best investment of time for me with a return of good mental health and personal growth includes a financial return as well. I have tons of downtime at my job so technically I make money while reading Tangible Freedom…a true win-win.

    • ragnar October 11, 2013 / 9:01 pm

      I actually tried to get a hotel job several times before I ended up in Telemarketing.
      Perhaps I should try again… although preferably closer to a beach.

      I had this idea that if I was a receptionist I would have a lot of time to work on my ideas while getting paid to do so..

      Sounds pretty awesome, although I would hopefully read another blog and not my own though! (narcissism is only cool in movies or in books)

  6. Rainer Proksch November 1, 2013 / 12:37 pm

    Although all of us know that time once gone cannot get back, we take it less seriously. If we know the value of time and invest it effectively then the benefits that we get are a lot.

  7. Micah December 13, 2013 / 3:59 pm

    Man, having 5 core principles to constitute what will qualify as a good investment of time. What an idea. Why have I never thought of doing that?

    I have to say having a profitable hobby has made a huge difference for me. Going to the gym gives my day and week better structure. I actually find myself being able to plan things in my mind with greatter clarity whilst exercising. It’s like a sort of pallette cleanser for my brain.

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