Time is money

I am sure that most of us are familiar with the idea that “time is money.”  It’s a formula that seems to float in humanity’s subconscious and pop up every so often. Be it in literature or conversation with someone.  We are often reminded that time is a valuable resource because our time in this world is finite, so it’s better to do things as quickly as possible and get more done in a shorter amount of time…

However, the idea that time is money has a long history.  Originally, this phrase can be linked back to Benjamin Franklin, who wrote in his 1748 essay, “Advice to a Young Tradesman”, “Remember that time is money,” he then goes on to remind his reader of the cost of laziness. When you’re not working, he says, you’re just throwing potential earnings away. 

One of the great laws of labour that was generally accepted was that time equals money: The less time you waste, the more you can get done and the more money you can make.

The phrase also embodies a wish for success and a need for a foolproof way to achieve it. Simply put, if you put in enough time…the money will come.

Not working as hard as possible could mean, as Franklin once suggested, an opportunity cost.  However, it could be deemed worth it if how hard you work seems to be interfering with your ability to enjoy life.

Over time (excuse the pun) a new approach surfaced – professionals started saying that they want to “work smarter, not harder” to make the most effective use of their time. Opinions vary: “some say this is often easier said than done” or “Sounds good. But how do you actually do that?”  We not debating or evaluating any time-related statement as yet.

The terms “effective” and “efficient” were started to be used (often used interchangeably) in time management.  It was realised that you can drastically improve your ability to get important things done when you understand the difference between these two mindsets of how to manage time.  Let’s start by looking at the definition for each: 

  • Effective (adj.): Adequate to accomplish a purpose; producing the intended or expected result.
  • Efficient (adj.) Performing or functioning in the best possible manner with the least waste of time and effort.

To remember this, think of efficiency as being part of effectiveness. It’s not just about getting things done, but doing the best things, and doing them in the best way.

From the previous Blogs, you will recall that the focal point has been on Self Development with New Year’s Resolutions as a departure point.  I am sure that you might have thought for a moment that I am saying that a Self Development Strategy for the New Year will rest upon time management and that it is the key to all your problems. That is unfortunately not my point.

The previous blog referred to a period of rest and or reflection.  I wish to extend this period but encourage you to reflect on the issue of time with regard to the opportunity cost that Franklin refers to.

When you are planning on making some improvements in your life the new goals and positive focussed actions provide great motivation as you become aware of the benefits it should bring about.  Unfortunately, the motivation diminishes over time, but that is a topic for discussion on another day.

It is easy to see the benefits and motivational impact of “action”.  However, it is easy to forget or ignore the fact that “inaction” comes with costs.  If you are not getting the results you want in life, you are just as responsible for the “inactions” as you are for the “actions” you take.

It was pointed out that the reason why some people have not created the life they really want is more often due to their failure to take action (inaction) then taking the wrong action.  There is an obvious reason for this:  when you take action, even the wrong action, you get feedback that quickly lets you know if you are on the right track or not.  You can identify any adjustments you need to make.  If you do not take action, you do not get that feedback!

During the pause period, I would like to challenge you to reflect on your actions and inactions hoping that you will realise that inaction comes with great costs.

In a future blog, we can look at examples of areas where inaction can cause problems in your life.  Think about how it will cost you and how much it will cost you.