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Assigning Value to Your Time, and Outsourcing Accordingly

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by Startacus Admin


Want to become more time-conscious? Ian Child, time management expert, trainer and author of "Your Own Personal Time Machine" shares some insights on why outsourcing may help.

Forty-two, as you may already know, is the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything – so says the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. And it seems Douglas Adams may have been onto something, that’s if your ultimate question happens to be ‘how many minutes am I expected to live for, rounded to the nearest million?’

/pexels-jeshootscom-714701Forty-two million minutes sounds like quite a lot, but in universal terms, it’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it kind of amount. The universe is around 13.8 billion years old, so your existence spans a mere 0.000006% of it. Just eighty-odd trips around the sun, and then your molecules return to whatever it was they were doing before they were arranged to create you. So, your time is limited – use it wisely. Value it.

This is an important thing for all new business owners to keep in mind. And an important skill to develop is delegation. It is a business superpower – one that frees up valuable time.

But what value(s) should we be assigning to our time?

I once attended a seminar where my fellow attendees and I were asked to write down our hourly rate. The group included a lawyer, and he had no trouble writing down his answer, but for the rest of us, it took a bit of thought. Should we take our annual income and divide it by the number of working hours in a year? Or do we need to know what we would be doing? If we were to help with his tax return, then that might command a premium that clearing out his garage or digging up some potatoes would not. But eventually we each arrived at our own number, which we duly wrote down.

Our host picked up my piece of paper and gave me a look of mild surprise. Had I gone too high? He handed me a separate piece of paper, declaring that he’d written down the exact amount that I valued one hour of my time to be worth. I unfolded the paper: you value your time at £2.50 per hour.

Uh, what now? That seemed low. Very low.

He asked me to read this out to the rest of the audience, all of whom soon looked as perplexed as I felt.

I was then asked where I did my weekly grocery shopping and on which day of the week I did this shopping and (crucially) how long it took me – two and a half hours (ish).

/pexels-photo-6965700Returning to his lectern, our host pulled up the home shopping page of my supermarket of choice on the big screen so that everybody could see it. A lady sitting at the front was asked to read out how much it would cost for the supermarket to deliver their groceries directly to my front door - it would cost me a fiver.

My shopping options were spelled out: spend half an hour doing an online grocery shop in my pyjamas and pay £5 for someone to deliver it; or save £5 and spend two and a half hours doing the shopping myself, in person. My choice to eschew technology and shop old school had valued my time at £2.50 per hour.

We assume that it’s only the time we allocate to work tasks that has any financial value, yet the reality is it doesn’t matter which hour is involved. The question is simply what value we put on them. And, of course, what we do with them.

Supermarket shopping is just one example of home tasks that take up our time. How much time do you spend mowing your lawn, or vacuuming, or doing laundry, or ironing, or cooking? There are gardeners, and cleaners and even personal chefs who are willing and able to take on those tasks for you. That may seem a bit Downton Abbey, but you don’t need to go full Lord Grantham – you could take baby Bonneville steps.

Henry Ford famously said, ‘Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.’ In other words, your fate is determined not by what you do, but by what you believe. If you believe that doing all the shopping, gardening, and cleaning tasks yourself is good because it saves you money, then that’s a view of the world that is right for you, and good luck to you. On the other hand, if you think doing all these chores yourself costs you time that you could otherwise spend doing something better, then that’s an altogether different situation – one that now includes some new options and fresh opportunities.

Outsourcing the washing up may gain you an extra hour in bed, and if that is all you want, enjoy. But you could also gain an extra hour helping your kids with homework, or an extra couple of hours with your kids at a cinema, or an extra afternoon with them in the park. You could gain extra hours to read more of your favourite authors’ books, or to see friends more often, or to take up a hobby you’ve always fancied having a go at, or to actually make use of that gym membership. These are the types of things that can enrich your life, and the better your life is outside of work, the more likely you are to be refreshed and raring to go when you return to work.

Of course, outsourcing parts of your life can create extra time for work activities too. You can find that you have time for networking events or taking up that client’s offer of golf/tennis/drinks. Perhaps you could move to offices charging a lower rent because you’ve delegated enough time to allow for a longer commute. Or the extra hour you can stay at work cuts your overtime bill. The ways outsourcing can help you are limited only by your imagination.

So, I would urge you to imagine all the things you could be doing if only you had the time and then weigh up the benefits of a little outsourcing so you can start to fit them all in.

/ian Child propertyCEOABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ian Child is a  time management expert, trainer and the author of ‘Your Own Personal Time Machine, a guide to getting your life back’, available exclusively from in paperback and e-book.

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Published on: 14th April 2022

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