Stop Overvaluing Your Time

Heather says:

I promise, I’m not going to wax all nostalgic and talk about how no one ever wishes they’d have swept just one more time. No, that’s not my direction at all. Yesterday, I was listening to This Week in Tech, mostly because I’m a huge geek and partly because my cabinets needed scrubbing. I knew somewhere under the peanut butter and kid grime they were white, I just had to be able to prove it to people who happened to stop by for a visit.

While I was scrubbing, Leo Laparte noted how much TV the average American watches daily, as stated by Nielsen Ratings. (5.1 hours assuming 30 days in a month). With the exception of freelancers, earning income outside of your work hours can be difficult. Yet, when I talk to people about steps they can take to control their budget or improve their surroundings, the most common excuse I hear is, “I don’t have time for that.”

If you find yourself saying, “Oh, I don’t have time for that,” each time a cost-saving project is mentioned, take an inventory of how you spend your time. Be as honest as possible. I know I’m guilty of wasting a LOT of time on the Internet, even when I half-heartedly justify it as research. It’s also a good idea to note the more time a person exposes themselves to commercials, the more likely they may be to feel a need that wasn’t there before.

Marketers refer to this as creating a need.

It’s really hard to want this season’s hottest accessory if you haven’t seen what it is. And as far as I can tell, the real life fashion police aren’t quite as harsh as one might imagine; all it takes is looking around at Wal-Mart on a Saturday afternoon to realize this. No one is handing out fines for a fashion faux pas*.

*Note: I am not suggesting that we all need to walk around in rags, but it’d be a good idea to keep in mind that a column writer probably couldn’t afford both rent and Manalo Blahniks unless of course, there were some serious endorsements being underwritten.

So what’s my point?

You have the same number of hours as everyone else on the planet. Yes, you may have kids (hey, I’m right there with you), you may be caring for an elderly relative, you may work an insane number of hours. Some of these things are obligations and some of these things are an excuse wrapped in a martyr’s cloak of responsibility.

Take a few minutes to check the circulars for sales, plan your menu, write down your grocery list.

You can do these things with the TV on in the background. If you need to spend time with the kids, sit them down and ask for their input during the process. These are skills they need and it’s unlikely they will learn them at school.

If that’s too much, we have already written several menus and grocery lists, including a month long menu plan with complete shopping list.

Take your new found time to make your surroundings more pleasant. Organize and clean your living areas. It’s surprising how a messy room relays a feeling of helplesness. If you’re at a loss, Ivy has some great posts on getting started:

Getting Started on Your Messy House

Mess Begets Mess, So Try the Vice Versa

Spring Cleaning: Room by Room

So what are you waiting for?



9 Comments

  1. Kristena C. on May 27, 2009 at 8:05 pm

    Was there ever a followup to the Spring Cleaning: room-by-room post? It says in the post there will be a followup with the rest of the house but I can’t seem to find it.

  2. Keter on May 27, 2009 at 3:04 am

    As a chronic over-committer, I have a real issue with a long to-do list, so time is probably my most precious resource. When I was younger, I had to work every waking hour – sometimes two jobs, sometimes job plus learning a new skill, and always single parenting. Now that I have more time for myself, I find that when I budget my time, I tend to choose activities that have both a practical and emotional payback, like gardening or home improvement projects. Digging and hammering is good therapy and good exercise for a person who spends so many hours on a computer (for work and personal projects).

    Every morning, I ask my husband “what’s on the itinerary for today?” This makes us both think about what we want to accomplish and coordinate. For example, one of us may have a project that will require a second set of hands for part of it. We also schedule trips into town and bundle our activities so we aren’t spending too much time and gas driving around. Driving is a HUGE waste because there’s really nothing else you can do during that time, it accomplishes nothing, and it costs a lot, so we minimize it as much as possible.

    We don’t have a TV, and aside from following the occasional YouTube link, we don’t use the computer as a TV. My computer time can easily take over an entire day, so I segregate it into distinct time blocks. My husband is into talk radio, so he has a radio on all the time in his workshop – that would make me crazy! But I do put on music when I do housework or projects with a lot of repetitive steps, as it seems to make it go quicker.

  3. gracie on May 26, 2009 at 9:27 pm

    i knew it was bad when in her sleep my then 3 year old said: ‘ buy me that for my birthday’, which she did for a while when she was in front of the boob-tube, our cable goes away on june 21st! – when the contract is up

  4. ThatBobbieGirl on May 26, 2009 at 8:32 pm

    Thanks for the reminder about being frugal with our time. Doing a time inventory will probably make me cringe. I know I can do better.

    Re: commercials – ten years ago, when we built this house (ok, started building – it’s still far from done) we didn’t realize that we would not be able to get cable here without actually paying for the cable company to run the line up the road. Since we didn’t have an extra $5000 to spare for that, we’ve been cable-less since 1999. Neither do we have a dish, because where we are located, it just will not work. Our kids were never huge on begging for things that they saw on TV, but after a couple years of no commercials, they just didn’t ask for stuff very much. Then, when we started homeschooling, it just stopped. They were no longer around other people who talked about their new cool stuff or the new cool stuff they wanted to get, ALL THE TIME. They were much more content with what they had, and when it came time to make Christmas wish lists for relatives, my kids would have a hard time coming up with items to ask for!

  5. Karen on May 26, 2009 at 8:23 pm

    I came across another time-management blog entry today:
    http://www.momadvice.com/blog/2009/05/7-tips-for-leading-balanced-blogger.htm ,
    which was linked from Cheap Healthy Good: http://cheaphealthygood.blogspot.com/

  6. Alicia on May 26, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    Well said about internet and online business. I am very much worried about the price. Every website have their own pricing with hidden terms and conditions which is really shocking when it comes to picture. Time matters!

  7. Karen on May 26, 2009 at 2:09 pm

    Great post.

    The way I see it, time frugality is a lot like money frugality. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Just like overspending can lead to debt, which can lead to increased spending (on interest), being disorganised leads to spending more time finding, tidying, shopping ….

  8. Heather on May 26, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    Angela, that’s a great suggestion. I wince every time I think of the honey-do list we have looming. We need to get back to being productive ::shakes fist at Netflix and their complete seasons of Lost::

  9. Angela on May 26, 2009 at 11:06 am

    I never though much about commercials till my two middle children have gotten older. I swear everything on every commersial becomes a, “MOM, we need that….” it drives me bonkers. My husband and I are TV surfers, so commersials are the time to see what else is on.

    Along with shopping list it is sometimes a good idea to write and what needs to be done list. That way you are able to think about one thing at a time that needs to be done instead of 15. Not a cure all but it does help some frome jumping from job to job.

    I have a garage that needs cleaning. I am getting rid of all those empty boxes that I though I would need again soon because we did not plan on living in the house very long… it has been 3 years and there are no plans of moving any where right now.

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