Investing Commentary

4 Tips on How to Think about the Value of Time in Your Life

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On some level, everyone is aware of the fact that “time” is a vitally important resource, that often has some correlation with money, but which is arguably significantly more important than money when it comes to your ability to achieve your goals, and live life on your preferred terms.

There are many different ways of thinking about “value.” Gold is valuable, of course, and is something that people have long coveted throughout the ages. But where does the “value” of gold come from? Well, primarily from its scarcity and the fact that it represents a largely fixed quantity.

In line with the train of thought, time can certainly be considered a vital resource – even more important than gold.

Here are a few tips on how to think about the value of time in your life.

Time is one of the primary resources you’ll likely want to “buy” with money

You’ve probably heard the short humorous proverb that starts with a wealthy man meeting a poor fisherman on the river of the bank, and engaging him in conversation.

The wealthy man asks the fishermen why he isn’t more industrious, so that he could catch more fish. The fisherman asks why he would want to do that. The wealthy man responds that he would be able to turn a greater profit, buy a boat, acquire more fish, and then continue scaling up until he, in turn, was a wealthy man.

The fisherman asks what he’d want to do that. The wealthy man responds – rather lamely – that this would give the fishermen the ability to indulge in luxuries like… the free time to sit by the river bank fishing.

Money can open many doors in life, and it is certainly a vital resource for basic survival, never mind the pursuit of various goals and ambitions. But it’s worth keeping in mind that one of the primary “luxuries” that we all typically hope to obtain for ourselves through our wealth, is, after all, time to spend as we see fit.

Henry David Thoreau, the famous American author of “Walden,” is often misunderstood in that he is thought to have just been someone who advocates for simple living out in the woods, for its own sake.

In fact, Thoreau’s writing is heavily concerned with the balance between money and time – and is specifically centered on how to optimize that balance.

If you are habitually undervaluing and sacrificing your time, that’s not a great sign.

Time is the one resource that can’t be hoarded, accumulated, or earned back

Unlike money, time can’t be hoarded, accumulated, earned back, or saved – although it can be “invested” in things.

In fact, in this regard, time is arguably the only resource that falls into this particular and unique category.

Of course, this makes time quite a scarce resource, and therefore an exceedingly valuable one. When you choose to invest your time in something, you should do so with a full awareness of the value of that time, upfront. Unlike with an investment of money, you need to be aware that when you’re trading your time you are – to a significant degree – trading life.

Make sure, then, that the trade and investment is worthwhile.

Time, in combination with energy, is a prerequisite investment in anything you want to achieve in life

Not only is time something that you “can” invest in different projects, ventures, and undertakings – it is in fact a prerequisite investment in anything you want to achieve in life (in combination with “energy.”)

While any business venture will require some investment of money, as well most hobbies and pastimes, time is an ingredient that simply can’t be overlooked.

While you certainly can minimize the amount of time you need to dedicate to something, via an increase in efficiency and “smart work” practices, you should absolutely be mindful about directing this most essential resource towards the most meaningful and desirable projects, and away from those which are just a “waste.”

An inefficient use of time can cost you money in a very real and direct sense

Everyone’s heard the saying “time is money,” and this is true in a very literal and direct sense in many cases.

If you are an entrepreneur, in particular, you will likely be in a position where every potential resource at your disposal is sorely limited. You have fewer team members than you might like, less money to invest than you might like, and certainly less time than you might like, for all the different tasks you’d care to engage in.

Wasting half your work hours on broadly redundant or unproductive tasks would, therefore, represent both a waste of money and of the potential success of your business.

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