My Time Audit week is over, and I have learned a lot of interesting things. I’ll try to share some of my insights with you over the next few days — and I would love to hear from those of you who also did a time audit. What did you learn about your time?
One of the ideas I’ve been particularly ruminating on throughout the week is the old adage, “Time is Money*”.
Because I am an entreprenuer of sorts, and because my income is directly related to my output, I realize that I might be more likely swayed by the “Time is Money” mantra than perhaps someone who is salaried.
I often find myself asking: “Could I earn more during this ____ (hour, morning, day, etc.) than I would have to pay someone to ____ (mow the lawn, babysit the kids, teach them Hebrew instead of me, etc. )?”
Of course, before we can decide if we should outsource our FILL-IN-THE-BLANK (lawn care, house cleaning, car maintenance, child care, etc.) we also need to ask ourselves some questions:
#1. Amidst all of our life’s priorities, how important is this one thing?
#2. Is it something we want to do ourselves? And if so, why? Is it because we enjoy doing it?
#3. How much time does it take? Does it come at the expense of other priorities?
#4. Can we afford to outsource?
Let’s take a very simple example: Mowing the lawn.
Under how important is this one thing, I find myself wondering:
- How much do I care about a “nice” front and back yard? How much does my husband care? (I’m about a 7/10, he’s probably a 9/10 – reverse those number for having a clean and tidy house, by the way.)
- How much of this “caring” is internally motivated (meaning: it really matters to ME) vs. externally motivated (meaning: I don’t want people to think badly of me if we have a weed-infested, foot-high yard). Even if something is externally motivated, that doesn’t necessarily mean we have to outsource it, or that its priority is less valid — but it is good to have a handle on where our motivations are coming from.
Under the is this something we want to do ourselves question, my husband really needs to be the one to answer that — since he’s the one who does 90% of the work on this particular task (I might water the garden, weed a flower bed or help spread some mulch, but he does the overwhelming balance of this particular task).
- He would say yes. He enjoys being outside, he loves working in the yard, and he personally takes pride in how the yard looks when he’s done.
Under how much time does it take, the answer is “it depends”.
- Mowing the lawn is obviously seasonal in Kansas City. He doesn’t have to do it at all between November and April. And given our late spring, it looks like even May won’t be too bad. But during the summer months, he mows every week or two, and is out there at least 90 minutes to 2 hours at a time (we have a fairly large yard).
- Since my husband works full-time, Sundays are really the only day he can take care of the yard. But Sundays are the day that we have designated as my “big work day” (he’s mostly in charge of the kids from 9-5, while I work on writing blog posts for later in the week, taking care of behind-the-scenes admin tasks that have been piling up all week, organizing giveaways, etc.). So two hours in the middle of the day may well come in the “way of” other priorities (my work), unless he can fully and safely involve our kids with him while he takes care of the lawn.
And finally, on the can we afford to have someone else do this question:
- Since our income is far from unlimited, choosing to spend money on A means not being able to spend money on B. Even if it’s”only” $50, that money would have to come from somewhere.
- If we can’t earn that $50 in the two hours it would take him to mow (the direct “time is money” solution), then we need to decide if there’s something else in our budget that is less important to us.
Which turns this whole puzzle into a bit of Rubik’s Cube of prioritization.
And which also reinforces for me that while time may not literally be money – it sure is inextricably correlated with money.
We haven’t decided, by the way, about the lawn. There’s not a clear winner based on our answers to the above questions, but I think my husband will more than likely continue to do it – mostly because he really enjoys it. And if we’re going to pay for someone else to do something for us (assuming we can afford it), it really should be something we don’t enjoy — or really aren’t good at doing anyway.
Have you decided to “outsource” certain tasks and responsibilities in your life? Did it come down to “Time is Money”? Or were there other factors at play? Has the decision freed up time for you to do other — more important — things in your day? I’d love to hear from you about how your family handles these questions!
*Money is certainly not the only reason to reevaluate your family’s schedule and priorities, but it is a very compelling one.