Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Time vs. Money

I hosted a well-attended and exciting brunch+workshop in Brooklyn on Sunday. In one exercise, I had each person draw 2 pie charts – one for how they spend their time and the other on how they spend their money. After talking about current and future priorities, it was interesting to see how much of our time/money was being spent on non-relevant activities.

It got me thinking about the trade-offs between time and money and how difficult it is to balance these two commodities. Those who have a lot of one are usually lacking in the other. For most overachievers, though, I think that time is the bigger limiting factor, which naturally leads many of us to “outsource” elements of our personal lives.

Most overachievers are involved in demanding jobs, which keeps us incredibly busy. Every free hour outside of work is precious. Outsourcing allows us to pay for services that we would otherwise have to do on our own. These time-saving services include: wash-and-fold at the Laundromat, ordering take-out, not standing in line, or hiring a wedding planner, mover, nanny, dog-walker, landscaper, etc. Of course, the things that shouldn't be outsourced are the things that are important to us, things that we enjoy, or things that only we can do.

For those people with less money (but more time), these tasks are not a big deal. It's not that their time is less precious, but they have more of it and usually prefer saving money. They will do just about everything themselves, from basic things like laundry, cooking, cleaning, gardening, and bargain hunting, to more complex things like major home improvements and car repair.

But, of course, most of us fall somewhere in between the complete outsourcer and the DIY'er. We have enough money to pick the few “outsourcing activities” that are worth it, based on our personal preference of tasks we like or loathe. In my own personal realm of trade-offs, I'm perfectly willing to pack a lunch, but you'll rarely find me trying to install a new sink or cabinets.

  • Which is your more precious commodity – time or money?
  • What task do you wish you could pay someone else to do?
  • What task do you wish you had more time to do yourself?

1 comment:

foo said...

Oh what an interesting exercise!

I think while I don't have a lot of money these days, I've been emphasizing time more and more -- I can beg, borrow, or steal money, but I can't do the same with time. And right now I need to use the time to ensure that I have money in the future.