Business Protection - Smart-Money Use of Non-Business Time


Sure, time is money. No argument there. More than that, time is our most precious commodity. Success often depends on the ability to manage our time well. Whether scheduling meetings, doing the books, training new people or introducing a new product or service, successful business owners know that every day is a calculated race against the clock.

But what about non-business time? That has a dollar value, too. How you use — or misuse — your free time is a determining factor in the quality of life you and your family enjoy. That's why some people can work 70 or 80 hours a week, yet still manage to participate in a highly rewarding home life. Meanwhile, others see leisure time as an opportunity to channel surf the television and then fall asleep on the couch. Or they devote their down time to household chores and yard maintenance, even though they'd rather be out playing golf.

We spend time just like we spend money. For instance: Pat is a vice president of a computer software company and earns $125,000 a year. However, she spent last Saturday comparison shopping through six stores for her husband's birthday present saving a total of $12. Then there's Don, an attorney who used a week's vacation last summer wallpapering his dining room.

The problem: We can waste time just like we waste money. That's what these two people have in common. Pat saved a few bucks on her husband's sweater, but lost a whole day she could have spent enjoying his company. Don saved several hundred dollars by papering his own dining room; however, he wasted a week of vacation time that could have been spent more enjoyably with his family.

How can you get the best value from your non-work time? Evaluate how to best use your time in light of the following:

  • The pleasure factor. This can override all other considerations. If you're a true-blue do-it-yourselfer who enjoys planting shrubs or building that new kennel for the dog, go ahead. If not, you might be better off hiring someone to do the work for you and either putting in a few extra hours in the business or spending more time with your family.

  • The dollar-value-of-your-time factor. This is a hard-cash tangible, based on how much your time is worth. If your work time is worth $120 an hour, your leisure time is worth the same. So, if you don't really enjoy the task of cutting the lawn, for instance, hire the neighbor kid to do it for $25 and go to a ball game or take the dogs for a walk in the park.

  • The convenience factor. In spite of the cost, it is sometimes better to hand over the receipt shoe box to a CPA rather than do your own taxes; to call the plumber rather than fix that leaky faucet yourself; or to tote home carry-out rather than spend an hour making dinner.

  • The guilt factor. This is perhaps the most powerful reason we end up doing things we're really rather not do. After all, don't real women bake cookies for their children and iron their husband's shirts? Don't real men fertilize their own lawns and change the oil on their own cars? The answer is NO! "Real" men and women make smart use of their time for themselves and for their families.

Beyond Dollars

How to enjoy your leisure time: Many business owners are self-styled beasts of burden. We are so caught up in what we do that it can consume us. However, if we don't learn how to break away, we risk never fully enjoying the fruits of our labors.

A few suggestions:

  • Learn how to relax. Many business owners don't feel comfortable out of "business mode." So, we clutch the briefcase or try to do work at home. Try learning to be more than just a business person. Not only will it be fun, but it will make you fresher and more focused at work.

  • Plan your leisure activities, just as you do your business time. Map out your day off to include a little yard work, watching your daughter's softball game, and an hour or two of being a couch potato. Or take a whole day off and give it to your son, daughter, spouse, or friend to do with as they please.

  • Don't bring work home or on vacations. Leave the briefcase at the office or in the car. Also, encourage customers not to contact you at home. If you force yourself to get all your work done before you come home, you'll get more done on business time sort of like getting ice cream if you finish your veggies!

If you're like most business owners today, you work hard putting in long hours each day doing what you do best. One of the rewards should be a comfortable lifestyle. Make sure you at least take the time to enjoy it.

This material is being provided for informational purposes only. Neither EMA Financial and Insurance Services nor its agents provide legal, tax or accounting advice. Please contact your own advisors for legal, tax and accounting advice.


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