Does Time = Money?
No doubt, “Time is Money” is something we have all grown up with and hold to be true. It’s also the simplest expression of the spirit of capitalism. History says it was coined in 1748 by Benjamin Franklin who was giving advice to young tradesmen and the full quote is: “He that can earn ten shillings a day by his labor, and goes abroad, or sits idle, one half of that day, though he spends but six pence during his diversion or idleness, ought not to reckon that the only expense; he has really spent, or rather thrown away, five shillings besides.” Wow! That’s almost the King’s English. Nothing like we speak today, but the context is the same. Time wasted is money spent. So, while we all know and believe in the principal, I recently ran across an interesting article describing that a British university professor, Ian Walker proved the old adage “time is money” by creating the following formula:
V = value of an hour
W = person’s hourly wage
T = tax rate
C = local cost of living
As a matter of fact, he believes along with others, that his formula proves that actually time IS money. This formula shows that day-to-day activities can be calculated monetarily to help you understand the value and cost of time. The article gave examples like brushing your teeth for three minutes costs .45 cents, washing your car by hand costs $4.50 and cooking dinner, including the value of time spent and the value of the ingredients, costs $15.72 for men and $14.30 for women. (Don’t even ask about the discrepancy in gender and the cost.)
The article points out that brushing your teeth for three minutes and doing it after every meal is more cost effective than the time and money it would take to pay for care as a result of poor oral hygiene. On the other hand, washing your car by hand can be a waste of time if you have the option of taking your vehicle through an automatic car wash that costs less than $4.50. Note that neither of these “costs” or the formula used to derive them take into consideration any pleasure one might experience beyond the “hard” costs.
I rarely meet, okay, I never meet anyone who isn’t impacted by the “time is money” adage. Most of us constantly juggle loads of duties and responsibilities on a daily basis. We have work, family and activities that we want to spend time on – a whole life to enjoy and experience. That is, if you had the time or can “afford it”, right?
I have a friend and business coach who constantly reminds me that indeed time is the only resource that all of us have the exact same amount of. We all have 24 hours with the exception of the day we are born and the day we die. Both times when we have little power to use or waste the allocated time! I’m not one to bemoan how technology has seeped into our personal lives and therefore erodes the quality of spent time and I don’t judge people who believe that to be true. I simply have the opinion that using the “time is money” formula has value and can create a roadmap for people to get what they want or need to get done. It’s a personal choice with personal consequences. For instance, if you love your “work” and don’t get stressed by long hours and weekends and it has no impact on personal relationships or personal opportunities for leisure, so be it. On the other hand, if you’re stressed by the behaviors and value you place on what you do, the disconnect may cause problems. What’s wise, cost effective time for one person certainly isn’t the same for another. And yes, of course there are social norms that we tend to ascribe to managers, bosses and peers who have influence; those aren’t the drivers. Or at least they don’t need to be.
I hold that we make time for what is most important to us. I also hold that there are oodles of ways to learn how to change patterns and improve on how you spend the time you have, should you choose to do so. The “spend” is each of ours to make. Even the maxim that says, “you can waste your own, but don’t waste someone else’s time” doesn’t hold water with me. I propose that if you want to do that, it’s your right – just be ready for the consequences!
So, if I’ve given you cause to think about how you spend your time $’s, I’m happy that I spent some of my money thinking and sharing my thoughts with you. I’m also very grateful that you spent some of your time on me!