Download: Time Is Money - Literally!
Everyone, regardless of their race, gender or wealth class, faces the problem of limited resources. It does not matter whether you are a man or a woman, black or white and even poor or a billionaire: we all have to be conscious of the limited resources at our disposal.
Perhaps, the most valuable resource for anyone or anything is time. With time, we age. With time, material things lose their characteristics and deteriorate. No one and nothing can escape the ravages of time.
Since time is the most valuable resource, the imperative for everyone is to do everything in the shortest time possible, in order to save time. Of course, the phrase “saving time”, is just a figure of speech. No one can actually “save time”, because time flows continuously and respects no one.
Before we can start “saving time”, it is crucial to understand its value. One of the most interesting sayings used to describe the value of time is the expression, “Time is money”. Simple and to the point, but a very important principle.
The phrase, “Time is money”, is attributed to an essay by Benjamin Franklin, that appeared in George Fisher’s 1748 book, The American Instructor: or Young Man’s Best Companion, titled “Advice to a Young Tradesman”.
Franklin wrote, “Remember that time is money…” He was conveying the idea that, if someone who can earn a certain amount of money, and then goes abroad and spends his time in idleness for half the time he was supposed to be working, he does not only spend money during his idle time abroad, but also loses out on the money he would have earned, if he was otherwise engaged in his occupation.
The saying is intended to convey the monetary cost of laziness, by pointing out that, when one is paid for the amount of time one spends working, minimising non-working time also minimises the amount of money that is lost to other pursuits.
When thinking about the value of money, it is also important to think broadly about the subject instead of just thinking only in monetary terms. The concept of “Opportunity Cost” shades more light on the subject.
There is an interesting concept in Economics referred to as Opportunity Cost. What is Opportunity Cost exactly? Opportunity Costs represent the potential benefits that an individual, investor, or business misses out on, when choosing one alternative over another.
This is closely related to the idea of “Time is money”. When we engage in certain activities, we forego other activities, due to the limited supply of resources. Again, let me reiterate that, it doesn’t matter who you are, or how much money you have, everyone has limited resources.
Take the example of a young woman who has just graduated high school. She faces two options to be used with the funds on hand: to either go to university for 4 years, or to use the money in order to start a business.
Bearing in mind that she has limited funding, she has to choose between one or the other. If she decides to go to university, she typically cannot start a business. Same goes for if she decides to start a business, she may not go to university. What is apparent in her case is the fact that she can not do both.
The thing about opportunity costs though, is that they are by definition unseen, and can often be overlooked. Whenever we make a choice due to limited resources, there exists at the same time, numerous lost opportunities: opportunity costs.
The interesting thing however, with respect to time, is that it is always an additional cost, which we may fail to identify most of the time.
Continuing with the example of the girl who has just graduated high school, she faces additional costs in time. Even though she spends actual money to go to university or start a business, she may not avoid spending 4 years either in university, or running her business. For her, time is also a cost, independent of the money she spends pursuing either of her options.
It should be clear therefore that, in anything we do, whether we spend actual money or not, we always face an additional cost in time, and this cost also represents an opportunity cost. You can therefore spend money or time, or both.
This line of thinking clearly demonstrates that “time is money”. As we are all aware, money currency can be converted between different currencies. Just as you can convert the Botswana Pula to US Dollars and back, you may convert time into actual money currency, when you do work.
When I started my freelance business, in what seems like ages ago, which has now spawned the Webmobyle company, my resources were very limited. I therefore had to make do, by achieving my business objectives with little funds at my disposal. Things are better now, but there is still big room for improvement.
This meant that I had to do most things myself, and I had to do it the hard way, because I could not afford quick solutions, which often require money. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because I learned and grew a lot as a developer and business person in the process.
We earn when we work. In order to earn, we can either pay others to do the work, or we do the work ourselves. Either way, work needs to be done. Furthermore, regardless of whether we are doing the work ourselves or paying someone else to do it, time needs to be spent. There is no running from this.
By looking at things this way, it is obvious that actual money and time are interchangeable, when it comes to earning. The end-goal for earning is to be able to afford resources: which includes time and money currency, as well as property. We can spend money or time to buy any resources we need or desire. This is why time is money- literally.
Decision making lies at the heart of spending time, or money in the face of limited resources. Since we face opportunity costs at every turn, we have to become efficient at managing our time, and really good at prioritising what needs to be done.
We cannot do everything our hearts desire, because we have limited time and money. I still find that I have to spend relatively more time than money, to achieve my goals at Webmobyle and in my personal life. I anticipate that this will change as the business grows even more, and we can afford to pay for more things in monetary terms.
How do you spend your time in order to earn? What is your time/money balance, when it comes to earning? Do you rely on spending relatively more of your time or more money, to get the resources you need or want and to get things done? Let us know in the comments.
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