Was it time well spent? Or, was it time well saved?
Time well spent happens when we get more out than we put in. The return on our focus ends up being greater than our efforts.
Time well saved happens when we realize we’d have put more in than we’d have gotten out. Unless we were able to avoid the effort at hand, we’d have been punished for making the investment.
We can figure both out easily in hindsight, but the goal is to see them coming in advance. A good test is to simply ask, “will this be time well spent or time well saved?” Or, from another perspective, “will I regret this more if I do this or if I don’t do this?”
There’s an abundance of “happiness” literature that says experiences are more valuable than possessions. At the root of it all is how we spend and save time. There are no experiences or possessions without some time cost.
When we think about creating value, whether in our own careers or our client’s lives, time is the common denominator. How we treat our time, how we treat other’s time, how we spend and barter for it – these are the sources of value creation.
If we want to know why or if something is “worth it,” we can try approaching the problem from the perspective of time first. Before money, before effort – reduce it to time. We can do a lot of good by asking, and helping others to ask these simple questions. We can do it more frequently and with greater intention. In fact, it barely adds any time at all. So,
Will this be time well spent or time well saved?