The increasing value of time

I was passing by Jerry’s Pizza a few days ago and spotted their slogan “We sell free time”.  They do. You don’t have to cook. You make a phonecall. And, ta-da! in 30 minutes, food is on the table.

After mopping the floors of my new home for about two hours (yes, 3 rooms is a lot, especially when you’ve got to clean!) I wished for a Scooba. Is 2 hours of my time every few days worth 1600 RON (about 400 Euro)? I say definitely yes.

So this got me thinking…Time will become – if not already – the most pricey commodity there is. We’ll end up paying more and more, just to purchase the equivalent of free time.

We buy cars because we believe they will take us faster from one place to another (and they do, most times).
I see more and more people taking the plane from Bucharest to Cluj or Timisoara, paying the extra price over the train, just to get there in one hour, not ten.
People hire cleaning maids because they don’t want to spend time cleaning. They want to do something else.
I purchased a dishwasher, first because I hate washing dishes, second because I save time. Of course, my mother considers it a fad.

What do all these mean?

We give more and more value to our free time.

Then, why don’t we give the same value to our time at work?

How to give more value to your time at work:

1. Don’t allow yourself to be interrupted, unless you can add (and receive) value from that conversation.

If your job is to provide answers and solutions, stop, give your full attention, and listen.
Think twice before sending the person to someone else, unless they really have the answer. The same might happen to you.

2. Don’t go into meetings where you’re not needed.

Whenever you’re unsure whether that meeting is really worth your time, ask yourself how can you better do your job, or help others do theirs, if you go. Don’t tell me that lame excuse “But I have to go”. If you can’t find one good reason to go to that meeting, go ask the meeting organizer. And if they can’t find a good reason either, you’re off.
And if you do get dragged into a meeting, get involved. Don’t let time pass by, fiddling with your Blackberry or doodling on your notepad. Ask questions, provoke, entice action.

3.  Get into projects/tasks you really love.

Work doesn’t have to be all boring and “no fun, just pay”. Find ways to make it fun. If you were in your free time, would you still enjoy doing what you’re doing now?
If not, what can you change about your current activity?

4. Delegate stuff you’re not good at, or hate doing.

5. Outsource stuff that others do better. They’ll be in the spotlight, and you’ll have time off.

6. If you’re afraid you’ll be less important after doing the above, you’re probably in the wrong job. Find something you’re good at and enjoy, invest your time in the proper place.

7. Put time in adding value to yourself. Go to trainings, read books, talk to other people. Yes, while at work!
You don’t get paid only for answering emails.
Your boss actually expects out-of-the box ideas, fresh thinking, new solutions.

8. Talk about yourself and your work, and ask the same from others. Exchange experiences. Get inspiration. Build relationships.

9. Show respect to other people’s time. Be punctual. Respect your deadlines. Demonstrate fairness towards other’s time, even if you’re more senior and, on paper, your time is worth more.

If time has more and more value, it doesn’t mean we should stuff more and more tasks and projects into the limited work day. Instead, we should ask ourselves more often:

what really matters?

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