December 12, 2016

Using Limited Time to Still Obtain Big Success

To achieve reasonable success, many would gain by reconsidering their usage of one of the scarcest resources of our modern era: their precious time.

A lot of people struggle with our hectic way of life and find it hard to keep up with all that is expected of them. That’s why we would like, in the 12-Minute Tradition, to provide suggestions to help balance your schedule and regain some control back over it.

You’ll see that sometimes, reallocating only small parcels of your time can greatly improve your results.

We also believe that, with experience, very successful people have become masters at maximizing their time. They seem to have the ability to detect most important matters and effectively mingle with ever changing elements of their busy agenda. We hope our humble propositions can get you a step closer to that ultimate state.

Invest Stress-Free Time in Planning

Most people consider planning as a waste of time. We prefer to view it as a great way to reduce stress and to accomplish more when time is limited.

Adequate planning will help you know what’s possible to realize within your available or allowed time. It could also aid you identify how to get better and in the end, make you more efficient.

Planning is a good way to prepare for a rush or to use time when you are less occupied to prepare for periods that you will be. The objective is to even out or balance your schedule as much as possible. Adjustments will always be possible and easier along the way.

For instance, before doing any grocery shopping, we now have to habit to take a little time to plan our weekly menu. It reduces our stress level before dinner after a long day at work in addition to making us save some money. Planning ahead enables us to focus on execution (preparing the meal) when time is limited.

We like to do it on Sunday mornings but planning can be done at any moment when time is not limited and stress is minimal. Planning allows you to move stressful jam-packed periods in your schedule to quieter more relaxed ones.

Sometimes Investing a Little Time Can Amount to Big Savings

One of the most interesting perks of efficient time management is saving resources and money. As the famous expression says: Time is Money! Another related truth is that, in some circumstances, wisely using a little time can make you save a lot of money. The trick is to look for and identify those special opportunities and to take advantage of them as often as possible.

The less time you take the better. Saving a quick buck is good and can be gratifying. But also the bigger the savings the better. So don’t hesitate to invest a little more time to find and benefit from huge saving possibilities. 

One perfect illustration comes from the personal finance realm: the classic auto or home insurance automatic renewal. At their expiration after one or two years, many insurance companies have the nagging habit to renew your contracts and unilaterally try to boost their prizes. Over time, quiet loyal customers simply get charged always increasing premiums.

Let’s demonstrate this with an example from our own financial life. Late last summer, we received our auto insurance renewal papers where annual premiums were hiked by about 80$. Not that much would you say but we still took some time to check it out and shop around. After only a few phone calls, we managed to get similar coverage for 235$ a year less than our existing 2-year contract. All in all, this little operation will save us 630$ for the next 2 years (80$+235$ times 2).

To make a conservative estimate, the whole process took about 2 hours of our time. So, we were able to save 215$ / hour! I don’t know about you, but my job certainly doesn’t pay me that much!

We always like to calculate and convert of savings into hourly rates to motivate ourselves and also to measure if the effort was pertinent.

We try to remain very conservative in our estimates but still often obtain pretty astonishing numbers. That simple method made us realize that if you make sensible choices, taking an hour here and there can many times translate into huge savings.

And that’s without taking into account another incredible phenomenon: the compounding effect. In a sense, we already covered all this a couple months back when we wrote about Reducing Recurring Expenses to Build Wealth.

Last month, another powerful example of using time to reduce expenses came up as we mentioned how it’s ridiculously simple to Reduce Your Telecom Bill Just by Asking. In this one, we managed to save 12$ a month in just half an hour. Even though that saving should theoretically stand forever, let’s assume it’s only good for 2 years as we will upgrade our service at some point and will be forced to renegotiate. Still, that short phone call turned out to an amazing saving of 288$ (12$ x 24 months) or an hourly equivalent of 576$.

Doing things yourself is also a great way to potentially save money. Let’s see how our DIY investing fares in that matter.

Last couple years, compared to how we used to invest before (mutual and index funds), DIY investing got us a little over 6000$ extra per year. Let’s conservatively assume we take about 2 hours a week to take care of our DIY Portfolio. We probably take much less time than that as it’s one of the major points of our simple patient investing method. We are also well aware that not everyone will be able to obtain the same kind of results. That being said, for us, DIY investing represents about 60$ per hour (6K$ / 2 hours / 50 weeks) Not as impressive as earlier examples but still quite respectable.

We’ll finish this section with a potential saving situation where your time would be wasted and that should simply not be pursued.

High gas prizes is a buzzing subject these days and people often go to extreme lengths to save just a little cash when they fuel up. The other day, two adjacent gas stations posted a difference of 5¢ per litre on their regular gas prizes. There was a long lineup at the cheapest station of at least 30 minutes and even maybe up to an hour. We needed about 30 litres so we decided to go to the deserted station. The 1.50$ saving or 3$ an hour was just not worth the wait.

Quality and Regularity Go a Long Way

For many people, being afraid to invest a lot of time in projects can be a real show stopper. But we strongly believe that, over quantity, the quality of your efforts is even more important. As in most situations, regular well concentrated efforts will achieve much more than a lot of dispersed ones.

So, try to invest quality time in your projects and you’ll see that you can accomplish wonders.

In the same fashion, you’ll notice that successful people usually learn from their mistakes and are always willing and open to improve the quality of their work. Can this be one of their secrets? For them, quality takes over quantity more and more. They also know their precious time is quite limited and have developed early on, the uncanny ability to make the most out of it.

Many leaders of thriving productive societies seem to truly grasp and understand the importance of all this. For instance, they have wisely learned that, most people can accomplish as much in a 6 hour workday or in a 30 hour week. In that model, workers develop a sense of accomplishment and also remain healthier and happy. Maintaining good quality of work over shorter periods of time is not only interesting and possible but much more sustainable. The end result is much more cost effective for everyone. Sadly, not all US business people are inclined to evolve in that logical direction.

That's all from us today. We hope our unique point of view can encourage and push you to try to challenge yourself to maximize your time. Just remember that in due time, consistent small gestures will amount to great success.

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