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.
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.
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?