Do you clip coupons? Do you cut your own lawn? Do you wash your jeans after 1 use? Do you check e-mail multiple times every hour of every day? Do you watch more than 2 hours of TV a day? Do you shop for clothes frequently?
Have you ever asked yourself if the time, money, or effort in these activities are worth the value that you extract from it? In other words, does the follow equation apply?
Value (from activity) > Time + Effort + Money
We will all assess these activities differently, so the value that I get from hiring a landscaper versus cutting my own lawn will be different from your calculation. It’s similar to the old story about how it’s not worth the time for Bill Gates to stop and pick up a $100 bill off the street on his way to work if it means he’ll miss 5 seconds of work (assuming he makes more than $100 every 5 seconds).
We can certainly see value miscalculations around Christmas time. My wife thought that I would value seeing Jerry Seinfeld live. She assumed the value that I would extract from seeing him live would be worth more than the cost of the tickets. She’s correct in seeing that I would enjoy seeing Seinfeld live, but I would not have paid $500 for 2 tickets to see him. My assessment of this activity was that the value of seeing Seinfeld live was far below the time and money spent on the activity. We often see this when we get Christmas sweaters or tube socks as Christmas gifts.
Another example of this was when my wife and I were debating whether or not to buy an iPad. For us, the money and time spent buying the product doesn’t add any additional value to our lives. We both have smartphones and have a laptop so I’m not sure what an iPad will provide over and above these other devices.
So what’s the point
The point is that we should look at what we do everyday and ask ourselves if the time spent on the activity is worth it or if the money spent is worth the cost. I mean, really take a hard look at every single activity. Take inventory of the activities in your day beginning with the first activity you do after you wake up in the morning and ending with the last activity before you go to bed in the evening. Do this everyday for about a week. Be brutally honest with your activities. What you did, not what you should’ve done. Next, review this list by yourself or with your significant other and ask 3 questions.
- Can I eliminate this activity? What will I lose by eliminating this activity?
- Can I reduce the amount of time, money, or energy on this activity?
- Is there a way to simplify this activity?
We live a short life, so let’s not waste a moment of it!