Return on time

Lost time is never found again

We’re all familiar with ROI – return on investment – which allows you to gauge the worthwhileness (is that a word?) of an investment.

But far more valuable and far more scarce than money is time.

And yet, for most of us, we spend our time with far less caution and pay little or no attention to the return on time invested.

Think about it. If you are asked to invest money in something; you will consider how much you have to invest, your appetite to risk and finally the potential reward.

If you were to invest £1000 to get £1001 back but may lose your initial £1000 then you’d most certainly not invest.

So why does this differ for time?

If I asked you to spend a day with me, and the activity is largely irrelevant, the criteria for the most part is simply “am I available?”  If yes then I’m 80% sure you would agree to the day.

Ironically if the answer is no,  you may then consider an alternative day to invest so as not to let me down.

With time, the question is not always “what will I get for this?” but simply “am I using that time for anything else?”

This is dangerous.

I would argue that using your time to sit still in a dark room can be more productive and preferable to some activities and yet being “busy” and active are often preferred courses of action- even if they only make you feel productive.

We spend time and invest money.

I think the key issue here is one of perception.

Time is to be spent and to spend something is to use it and not see a return. This is true of money- we spend money on things which give little or no return. The difference is that we also invest money – or at least understand that we should be investing money….

I wrote this post to highlight that the care with which you should plan your financial life should be mirrored in the care with which you manage your time. If you appreciate some time must be spent and there is little or no return, and that some time must be invested each month to see a return in the future – then big things will start to happen.

So what can you invest your time in?

  • Learning something new – a language, a course, a skill such as playing guitar
  • Nourishing friendships – invest time with your loved ones- possibly the highest yield time investment there is.
  • YOU time – from exercise, to meditation, to indulging your passion for stamps, time for you is super important yet often neglected.
  • Others – if you help others by mentoring, teaching or spending time with them not only will you feel great, they may also repay the favour one day.
  • Planning– Surely one of the best ways to invest time is in planning how to invest your time and minimise waste.

I can’t tell you how to spend your time and nor would I want to – I’m simply asking you to consider where you spend your time and why. I’m also asking you to set a little time aside each month to invest for the future as you would with your money.

You could argue of all things to consider in your life, return on time is one of the most crucial.

Something to think about.