When I was in my early twenties, I remember going out of my way to save money. Waiting weeks to buy things on sale, eating spaghetti like it was my job, walking multiple blocks out of the way to save a few bucks on lunch, and going back and forth comparing bus ticket prices for weeks before buying.
I had all the time in the world when I was younger. I wasn’t married, I had no kids, no mortgage, no endless mounds of laundry to sort.
When we’re young, most of us have more time than money. As we grow older, that ratio often changes, yet most of us maintain the same financial and lifestyle habits, putting in extra time just so we can save a few dollars here and there.
In order to adjust to the shifting balance of time and money in your life and to stop being busy all the time, you must learn to let go of control, delegate tasks, and buy back your own time.
Most of us go through life in reactive mode. The laundry piles up, and we go start a load. The weekend rolls around, and we start making our grocery lists. Weeds start popping up, so we grab our gardening gloves.
When you’re in reactive mode, there’s always more to do, always more tasks to crowd your calendar. On the flip side, when you’re in proactive mode, you can start to see trends and patterns in your day and start to plan for and delegate tasks.
For example, rather than waiting until the weekend to scramble for groceries, maybe you have a virtual assistant plan the meals for the next month ahead of time. Once you approve, your virtual assistant then orders the groceries online each week and has them delivered to your door.
This is what it means to buy back your time. You trade a few extra dollars for some time back in your schedule.
If you’ve made the decision that you want to buy back some of your time, the next step is to consider the areas of your life that you might be able to delegate. Think about all the things you do on a daily and weekly basis, things like grocery shopping, laundry, cooking, etc.
Chances are, there are some things on the list you enjoy doing more than others, and also some things that you’re more skilled in than others. The goal is to figure out the things that you’re not good at and also don’t enjoy doing, so you can start to delegate those tasks.
To gain clarity on the items you might delegate, try this quick exercise. Get a piece of paper, and divide it into 4 quadrants. Label the vertical axis “Skill” and the horizontal axis “Joy.”
In the top left quadrant, you’ll list things that you’re good at but dislike doing. In the top right quadrant, list things that you love doing and are also good at. In the bottom right quadrant, list things that you are not good at but still enjoy. And in the bottom left quadrant, list things that you are not good at and also don’t enjoy.
Keep going until you’ve categorized all the tasks that you regularly repeat each week.
The best way to start buying back your time and getting the biggest bang for your buck is to delegate the tasks that are in the bottom left quadrant. In other words, pay someone else to do the things that you neither excel at nor enjoy.
Start small. If you’ve been doing everything yourself your whole life, making the shift to delegating personal tasks might take some time.
Start with something small. Aim to buy back just one hour of your time per week, and see what that feels like.
In the process, be sure to give both you and the person you hire some time to adjust. No one can do things 100% exactly as you do it, especially the first time. If you hire a house cleaner, you might need to take some time to show them how you like your countertops cleaned. Or perhaps, you’ll be surprised that they’ll have a better method that you never even thought of.
Go into this adventure open-minded, and give yourself space to experiment and find what works for you.
As Jim Rohn put it, “Time is more valuable than money. You can always make more money, but you can’t make more time.”
Each one of us has an individual journey to walk, and it’s up to you how to spend the time you’re given. If you’re ready to give up being busy, to step up and start delegating, and to live your life on purpose and with purpose, join me in buying back the time in your life.