Thursday, 9 June 2011

The value of time

What's my time worth?

I don't mean at work, where this is carefully calculated to cover overheads and salaries, I'm talking about my time once i walk out of that office door.

In recent years, i've become ever more protective of my free time, feeling like I have less available, and that I need to try and hang onto that which I have. Given my daily routine involves me walking out the door at about 6:15 to head to the gym, and getting home at around 7pm, I think that's a fair call... As with anything in this world, this means that it ends up becoming a value judgement on any given activity as to whether I can be bothered or not (which isn't to be honest the best basis for deciding if you do something).

Coming back to my initial question though, in the past week, I've had two different things that really illustrated to me where my attitudes stand now and how this has changed in the past few years.

The first of these was that, for the first time since I moved out of my parent's house in early 2006, I hired a cleaner. While this was something various housemates and I had discussed in the past, we had always previously ended up saying 'stuff it, we'll do it ourselves.' This was the first time that I clearly felt that the money it would cost to get someone in (once a fortnight, so not like we're getting carried away here) was worth less to me than the time it would take me to do the same job for myself... interesting, but let's continue...

The second of these was that some mates of mine are in the process of setting up a business, and asked me for some input into research they could use to support their business case. To be honest, I'm not sure exactly how much they were hoping for from me, whether it was just some general advice, or at the other extreme to take it and run the project from them. What I did realise was that this was something I was willing to give up time to work on and discuss with them at length. I guess this does come with the caveat that they were bringing together two things that I genuinely enjoy, which were the practice of research and sport (their business idea is generally sports related), but at the same time... I do research all day, why do it when I get home too?

This brings me back to my initial point about the relative value of relaxation vs. something else. Looking at what I do now, I guess the simple response would be that I'm cherry picking the stuff I enjoy, which is a valid comment and I'd imagine true of most of us (before we start hitting the responsibilitie of family, kids, etc...

I guess what really interests me is looking at how the relative value of these has changed for me (and will no doubt continue to do so in the future)? As has often been said, the only constant in this world is change. Accepting that and assuming the demands on our time will continually increase leads me to ask where do I see myself five years down the track and where would I want to be?

The question for me now is how close are those two things to each other, and what can I be doing to bring them together more?

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