Thursday, May 22, 2008

Time is Money

Would You Pay $16.67 to See the Latest Simpsons Episode?

I hadn't planned on starting time management posts yet, but today I had an experience that made me say "doh!". Here for your enjoyment is a short story about how I paid $16.67 to watch The Simpsons online.

Hulu is Pretty Cool

We don't currently have a cable or satellite subscription, because we don't really have time to watch TV right now, and that $50 a month should be going towards our house down payment anyways. That doesn't mean we can't watch a lot of our favorite shows though. is a pretty cool site. You can watch all sorts of shows, current and old, as well as movies. We use it to keep up with The Office and a couple of other shows we like.

Consulting Makes For Extra Bucks

I've been doing some programming on the side to help increase our income, and for the job I am working on right now I get $25/hour. There's plenty of work to do, and I got up at 5:00 to get a start on it before heading in to my real job.

After I'd been programming for a couple of hours, I decided to head in early. Then I checked my email, read a few blogs, then decided to see what was new on In a moment of weakness, my drive to go to work early disappeared...and I watched The Simpsons.

Of course my browser crashed part way through, and so the episode took almost 40 minutes to watch. That's 40 minutes I could have been either at work or doing consulting. 40/60*$25 = $16.67. On my way to work I started thinking about all the time I waste and realized that
I could be bringing home a lot more if I would just buckle down and work.

The Value of Time

How should I be balancing my time then? Different activities have different values of course, and spending all my time on the highest value thing would mean other important things would fall by the wayside.

My family is the most important to me (highest non-financial value). Working at my job makes me the most money (highest financial value). Spending time on either of those pursuits would usually give the highest returns to me (happiness or money). Relaxing is important too of course, but losing $16.67 in opportunity costs just to watch a mediocre episode of the Simpsons just doesn't make logical sense.

Improving My Time ROI

In order to make better use of my time, I've created a schedule for myself. I decided that during the week I will try to be more strict on my time usage, and that the weekends will remain unstructured for the time being.

Each of my time blocks are color coded to reflect why they are important and so I can see if I'm at least trying to live a balanced life.

The Personal Projects entry is orange and green because I have hope that a couple of my personal projects will eventually act as extra streams of income as well.

Tell me what you think about my schedule, and leave any stories you might have about time you've wasted and regretted.

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