Rich or poor, young and old, we all have the same quantity of one resource in common: time. Each person has 24 hours a day. While there’s no question that some people can make every minute count a bit more simply by virtue of their existing qualifications, connections, material resources, or levels of willpower and energy, it’s also true that a lot of us can do more by improving what we do with our time. These are a few exercises to help you understand and maximize the value of your time and achieve things that truly matter:
A definition of value
It’s often said that we don’t realize the value of something until it’s gone. When an employee suffers a personal injury at work, they might lose the chance to perform specific jobs or earn more, and their lawyer will fight for just compensation. This is a form of opportunity cost, and the concept extends to what you make of your time.
Every second spent doing something is a second you’re not doing something else. If you want to judge questions of worth accurately, a good definition of value is needed. Track where your time is invested each day, particularly in terms of how you generate income, including time spent dressing up and traveling to and from the office. Then you can arrive at a precise figure of how much each hour is worth because that’s how much money you’d be making if that time were invested in work.
Learning to draw boundaries
Many people who lead busy lives feel as though work drains most of their time and energy. Indeed, even a standard 9-to-5 schedule doesn’t just take up 40 hours of your week. Consider the daily commute, social events outside of work, how you spend breaks, and even how work-related concerns intrude upon your private time at home or dictate your leisure activities.
Drawing boundaries is an essential step toward reclaiming your work-life balance, and you can accomplish that by freeing up your time and making it sacred. Set clear expectations that you won’t be taking work-related calls or answering office emails when it’s your day off. Let your friends know that while hanging out is essential, you also have other to balance multiple priorities in your schedule. Respect your time, and others will be more considerate in turn.
Making the most of your time
Suppose you’ve already gone through the previous steps. You know how much your time is worth. For instance, $25/hour is the average wage rate in the USA as of May 2020. By drawing boundaries, you have four hours of free time each weekday, excluding time spent sleeping or doing essential tasks around the house (plus the weekends off).
Within that time, what activities can you do are worth $25 an hour or more? Framing your use of time in this way will lead you to maximize its value. Is binge-watching an online show worth it, as opposed to teaching yourself a new skill or reconnecting with loved ones over the Internet? Should you indulge in a round of shopping, knowing that every $25 you spend is equivalent to logging another hour at work? Only you can answer these questions. But by merely asking them, you’ll be able to make the most of your time.
Each day brings us another 24 hours to work with, but every hour that passes is forever lost. Follow these steps, and you can make them all count as much as possible.