Stop Non-Value Added Activities

by iam1percent on September 13, 2012 · 11 comments

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 a 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.

  1. Can I eliminate this activity?  What will I lose by eliminating this activity?
  2. Can I reduce the amount of time, money, or energy on this activity? 
  3. Is there a way to simplify this activity?

 We live a short life, so let’s not waste a moment of it!

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Daisy @ Add Vodka September 13, 2012 at 9:21 am

There are so many non-value adding activities that I simply have to do because I can’t afford to outsource them. I’m a big believer in outsourcing but unfortunately I still have to save for goals.
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Lance@MoneyLife&More September 13, 2012 at 9:42 am

I optimize my time to a point but sometimes when I end up over optimizing I don’t enjoy things as much. As long as you are aware and thinking of this I think you will be fine but in general I dont try to reach perfect optimization because I will burn out.
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Lauren @ L Bee and the Money Tree September 13, 2012 at 10:49 am

Interesting article-I use this in my life all the time. Although I still watch wayyyy too much television. If you look at your life this way you’d be surprised by how many things you’re doing are actually just a big waste.
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TB at BlueCollarWorkman September 13, 2012 at 2:40 pm

I like the idea of looking at what we do in our lives and thinking about whether it’s really worthwhile stuff, but in some cases I think the value is not a money thing. I like to sit on my couch every sunday and watch football. I like to just drink my beer, lay back and watch football for hours. I could be tgetting lots other stuff done, I could be being productive, I coudl mow the lawn, I could do more of my side busines, but I dont’. I just sit. And watch. bUt for me, this is valuable time. This is a valuable thing. I like this downtime, I enjoy it very much. It’s a mental break which is quite worthwhile if you ask me!
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Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies September 13, 2012 at 8:21 pm

As long as value = money + enjoyment, I concur.
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A 3 percenter September 14, 2012 at 10:11 am

As long as you don’t over-analyze it
If you focus on the most time-consuming activities and don’t sweat the small stuff
And only if the change brings significant savings or extra enjoyment

And not if you are going to be black and white about it. I love cooking and it saves money to eat at home, but this week I’ve been beyond busy at work so the kids are enjoying pasta twice a day :-)


JoeTaxpayer September 15, 2012 at 9:48 pm

Every Superbowl time, I look at the packages of plane/hotel/tix for two and the prices are crazy. Enough money to buy a big TV, and cater a party for your dozen closest friends to watch the game at your house. To each his own I suppose.
I dropped $600 on a pair of Sting tickets, charity auction, so $350 was a write-off. Even so, not sorry I spent $500 net. You only live once.
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Echo September 16, 2012 at 10:25 am

I see people making this argument all the time, and I think, for the most part, outsourcing is just an excuse to be lazy. The problem with applying this logic to all your daily activities is that you’re not productive with every minute of your day, so it’s not reasonable to say your time is worth ‘x’ when you’re not actually going to be making ‘x’ on Saturday afternoon while some kid cuts your grass for $30.

If you don’t want to cut the grass, that’s fine…but don’t hide it under the guise of it not being worth your time.

Same with coupons. Now I’m not a regular coupon clipper, but if I buy something online I’ll sure as hell search for a coupon code before I hit the purchase button.

I understand your point about stopping redundant activities. My beef is just when people who can’t afford to have a cleaning lady and a lawn care service try to justify it by saying it’s not worth their time.

(off to watch 6 hours of football)
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iam1percent September 24, 2012 at 10:00 am

You’re right and make a valid point. But you make my point. You seem to love football and would rather spend your sunday afternoon doing so. That means the value you extract from watching football far exceeds the money, time, and energy spent doing something else (cutting lawn, starting a business, reading a book).

Same goes for me. I value the time I spend with my kids on the weekend much more than I do the money, time, and energy spent to hire a landscaper to manage our lawn.


RichUncle EL September 21, 2012 at 9:54 am

This is something I have a constant battle with because I simply dislike doing something if it doesnt add value. But sometimes you have to bite the bullet and just get on with it eventhough we do not want to. Minimizing TV time is probably the best activity we can cut to get back some value added time that could be allocated for other things.
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