Time is Precious

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Time is the most valuable thing you have. A mindset that I continually impress on people is that by working, you are selling your time. To rephrase, a company is buying part of your life, in exchange for money. You need the money for altering your life. But you can still live without money.

A job opportunity skittered across my desk last week nearing the 150k range for a Linux dev ops job in Philadelphia. I am overqualified for the position but it is thy type of thing that could easily grow to fit my feet. Why didn’t I take it? I live in rural PA, and it would be 100% in-office work. No telecommuting. A few friends said I was crazy to pass this up. It’s double what I am currently making. I filled them in on how I think about time.

A little time math.

Assuming you sleep for 7 to 9 hours a day As is recommended by many studies, you only have 15-17 hours a day for “useful activity.” The main point here is to stop thinking of sleep as a detriment to your life. Sleep is like driving a car to work. It’s necessary. Better sleep is linked to everything from better diet, to financial success. A post on sleep and my battle with it will eventually follow. With an average of 16 hours a day to work with, that leaves us with, per week:

112 hours

This is how much time you have to use. This is your life. This is your only resource for being you. With this number, you seek your accomplishments and pursue happiness. It promptly becomes dedicated to small and simple tasks that eat up large portions of your day. My morning routine, working or not, is about 15 minutes. If rushed and done poorly, I can make it in 8. That’s shower, teeth, dress, grab breakfast, and ready to leave for work or do something else.

Morning routine: 15minutes, * 7 = 1.75 hours.
Nightly routine: 10 minutes, * 7 = 1 hour, 10 minutes.
Week.Total = 109.08 hours remaining.
Day.Total = 15.5 hours


Assuming an exactly 40 hour work week (haha), with 1 hour lunch:

Monday - Friday work: 8 hours.
Monday - Friday lunch: 1 hour. (Be honest, you zonk out and browse your phone at lunch. Seldom doing anything else.)
Work hours per week = 45

Week.Total = 64.08 hours remaining.
WeekDay.Total = 6.583 hours

The average US commute is approximately 25.4 minutes. That adds up to 4.23 hr/week or ~210 hr/year. Just in commuting. 64.08 - 4.23 = Week.total 59.85 hours remaining. WeekDay.total = 5.77 Effectively, More than HALF of your time is spent making money to allow you to spend money. This of course, assuming you have entirely rigid hours based on US averages. The longer your commute and longer you work, the less valued your time is. A medical student can make 55k in their first job straight out of college. But then you say that they are working 10 hours a day, 6 days a week, and commuting 1 hour each way. This leaves them with only 40 hours a week and earning $14.70 / hr. For the purpose of completing my job offer declination I’ll end the math explanation here.

Where I’m at currently

Current job compared to potential job.

Current position: $70k @  
- 25 min morning routine
- 40 hr week (hourly pay rate)
- 1 hour lunch
- 35 min commute = 45.833 hours supporting 66.16 hours
= 64.08 hours a week free
= ~ 6 hours a day free.
$29.35 / hour.
Potential position: $150k @  
- 25 min morning routine
- ~47 hr week (salary pay rate)
- 1 hour lunch
- 1 hour 15 min commute = 66.58 hours supporting 45.41 hours
= 45.41 hours a week free
= ~ 3.7 hours a day free.
$43.33 / hour

That’s effectively a +47% raise for selling 30% more of my week time, or 38.5% of my daily time.

So, see the problem? This is hardly double the money. It is subtracting further from my time. By spending more time making money, I’d have significantly less useful time. That 3.7 hours on weeknights turns to nothing when adding in dinner, dishes, emails, talking to other human beings, chores, pets, and 2 cat videos on Youtube. I don’t even have kids yet, allotting 0 net time during the week is just not an option. I have far too many hobbies and interests to justify so little free time. I could just be spoiled, coming from homeschooling. I used to complete my daily coursework in no more than 3 hours leaving me with 11-13 hours a day to do nearly anything.

Take away

  • Your weekends are PRECIOUS.
    • If you don’t work them currently, they are your largest resource for free time. They make up 35% of my free time. For people who work more, or commute farther, it’s even more. Don’t give them up.
  • Consider getting rid of things that you don’t really want to be spending money on.
    • Do you really need that unlimited data plan on your phone? $80 /month is 2.6 hours a month for me.
    • Do you need that third or fourth car? Maintenance and insurance can amount to innumerable hours.
    • Think about the tiny house movement. You save time and money. I’d consider a studio apartment again if I weren’t married.

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