Friday, January 8, 2010

Finding more time

Over the last few days I have been reading a lot of articles about getting back to basics and how we don’t need so many things in our lives. It got me thinking about how much time we waste on things we don’t need.

1.) We go to work to earn money to buy the things
2.) We spend time looking for, purchasing and taking home the things
3.) We spend time finding somewhere to put it, cleaning it, moving it around, storing it etc...
4.) Then finally we spend time getting rid of it, either by trying to sell it to regain some of the lost money or by just taking it to the tip or op shop.
See that? That is A LOT of wasted time for something you didn’t really need and probably didn’t want. I am not saying this goes for everything, but it does go for a fair amount of things we have/buy.

Considering what most of us want more of is time, why do we waste so much of it?

If we break those 4 things down further it can get quite scary how much we actually pay for stuff.

1.) We go to work to earn money to buy the things.
In my post about your real wage, which you can read here I spoke about working out your real hourly income. It was a little scary. I will be using the basis from that post that my real wage was $10 hr (rounded up) for the rest of these calculations. Say you want to buy a kitchen appliance, you know a hot dog maker, food processor, pie maker or something.

2.) We spend time looking for, purchasing and taking home the thing (in this example, the kitchen appliance).
You might spend an hour researching reviews and things online, 20 – 30 minutes to get to the store and park. Another hour in the shops, looking for, trying and buying the thing you want, then another 20 – 30 mins home. So all up that is up to 3 hours you have just spent getting this item. If the appliance cost $100, you already spent 10 hours working to get it. But in actual fact you just spent 3 hours looking for and purchasing it, so it has cost you $130 and 13 hours!

3.) We spend time finding somewhere to put it, cleaning it, moving it around, storing it etc...
So you get it home, unpack it and find somewhere for it to live. You probably use it this week because it is new and exciting. A few weeks later, it’s not really getting used, so gets moved to a cupboard. Later, you want to use that space for something else, so it gets moved again. Eventually it ends up in the garage or shed, taking up space. Each time you moved it you gave it a quick clean. In between moving it, it probably got put back in the kitchen for a few weeks, because “Oh, I might use that this week for xyz!” Uh huh. You don’t, it goes back into storage.

So you’ve wasted a few more hours just moving the appliance around. Let’s be kind and say it was just 2 hours in total, because it doesn’t really take that long to put something in a cupboard, but it can take a while if you decide to de-clutter that cupboard first, then again later after the item has been stored, then again when you de-clutter the garage after putting it in there, but for our purposes, it was only 2 hours. That’s another $20, so your appliance has now cost you $160 and 16 hours.

4.) Then finally we spend time getting rid of it, either by trying to sell it to regain some of the lost money or by just taking it to the tip or op shop.
So by now, your appliance has cost you $160, even though it’s not worth that much. You think “If I list it on eBay/newspaper classifieds/have a garage sale I can get $20 back”. So you list it. You take the pictures, see how much it is going for on eBay, write the description and list it. Then spend the week answering questions about it, finally selling it for $20 if you’re lucky. You then get to arrange a time and wait around for them to pick it up or go to the post office and post it. Then write feedback for them. All up that process probably takes 1 – 2 hours, plus the fees they charge to list, pay by PayPal and final selling fee, so you’re probably looking at having got $15 for it, after the fees.

A garage sale would be an all day thing or newspaper classifieds would cost a few dollars, then take time for people to come look and maybe buy it.

Otherwise you de-clutter and take it to the second hand shop/list it on freecycle or take it to the tip. The tip means you have to pay to get rid of it!

So, say you spent 1 more hour getting rid of this item; you have wasted a total of 17 hours on this appliance. Now if you were lucky you did recoup $15, or 1.5hrs worth. Still, if you work 8 hours a day means you have just wasted 2 WHOLE working days on this thing you don’t use. No wonder we are all short on time!

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