time management

Time Well Spent: How to Create Time Dividends

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At 228 Main, we like to think about the many ways one might be rich. The primary task here is to work to grow your buckets, especially those long-term buckets that may serve you across many years.

Many of our clients, however, are also rich in another precious resource: time.

Just as a company may pay dividends to shareholders, the best investors seem to have a knack for finding those investments of time that pay dividends. And paying attention to our time could mean big things for our financial goals and wellbeing, after all.

Take a closer look at a day or a week in your life and how the hours go by. Is there a set place or routine for those things that may seem to eat up “too much time,” like bills or errands or banking or emails?

Activities like these can really frazzle a person, but when we zoom out, a lot them of them shouldn’t come as a surprise. These are everyday, regular activities.

Laura Vanderkam’s book Off the Clock explores our many approaches to the time we have—the skillful and less skillful ways we spend it! She’s got a system for reviewing our time:

“When you do an activity, ask yourself two questions: Will I ever do this again? If so, is there some system I could develop or something I could do now that would make future instances faster or easier?”

The good news is that there are plenty of ways that small interventions—just one little step, now!—can pay time dividends for weeks, months, or years into the future.

Some of our favorites include automatic deductions: monthly payments to take care of any outstanding debt, investment contributions, and retirement contributions. (“Set it and forget it” is a phrase you might hear for this strategy, although we prefer a more mindful approach!)

We are also big fans of quarterly reviews. It’s roughly how often we adjust portfolios, but the passing of the seasons is a wonderful excuse to think about the state of our goals and the bigger vision.

What else can you attach to the schedule? Could you leave yourself notes for things you’d like to review on your birthday, at the new year, before or after tax season, the start or end of an academic year?

A company may divvy up its profits to splash them around to shareholders on a regular basis, but as individuals we too might find those ways to get our time to pay us back later. It just takes a little forethought now.

Clients, want to talk about this or anything else? Call or write, anytime.


Investing includes risks, including fluctuating prices and loss of principal.

Dividend payments are not guaranteed and may be reduced or eliminated at any time by the company.


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Time Well Spent: How To Create Time Dividends 228Main.com Presents: The Best of Leibman Financial Services

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Important but not Urgent

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On the advice of a speaker at a conference, I am in the process of re-reading Stephen Covey’s classic book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. This 1980’s staple of business literature is surprisingly timeless.

One of Covey’s theories is that time management is really self-management. He suggested that all tasks might be categorized according to urgent or not urgent, and important or not important. Those things that are both urgent and important must always be handled: production, emergencies, project deadlines.

But many important things are not urgent:

  • Building relationships.
  • Increasing productive capacity.
  • Looking at new opportunities.
  • Planning.
  • Recreation.

On any given day, these non-urgent things might be ignored without huge cost. But in the long run, the time we spend on them might be a key indicator of success, health, and happiness. A balance between production (urgent and important) and taking care of productive capacity (important but not urgent) may be a hallmark of sustainable enterprise.

This seems to apply to our personal lives as well as business. (If we are doing it right, we lead integrated lives – being the same person off the job and on the job, anyway.) Many things that give us a chance for a longer, healthier life are important but not urgent.

Working on your plans and planning, whether for retirement or estate planning or whatever, falls into that ‘important but not urgent’ category as well. Easy to put off, not a big cost to ignore for a short time, but with a huge impact on long term outcomes.

Clients, if you would like to talk about this or anything else, please email us or call.


Content in this material is for general information only and not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

 

I Mow My Lawn with a Checkbook

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You may have heard a thousand times, “time is money.” For me and perhaps for you, the reminder to use our time well was a needed and useful lesson.

As we grew into adulthood and established our lives, careers, homes, and everything else, money seemed scarce and time was abundant. Using time to get money made a whole lot of sense.

Things change as we age, you may have noticed. A client shared a revelation that came to him shortly after he retired. “I spent all those years worrying about having enough money in retirement, and quickly learned that the scarce thing is time, not money. I’ll run out of time long before I run out of money.”

This conversation led us to the thought that money is time. The point was driven home recently when I received a compliment about my lawn from a neighbor down the street. “You must spend a lot of time taking care of it,” he said. I was forced to admit I spend virtually no time on it.

I mow my lawn with a checkbook. That same tool takes care of the landscaping, and keeps my home clean. It has more functions than a Swiss Army knife. Time, for me, is a scarce resource—a valuable commodity. It is a blessing to be able to spend money and get time.

From time to time you have heard us advise, invest wisely and spend well. These things mean different things to different people. A very dear friend LOVES to mow the lawn, tinker with lawnmowers, fool around with the shrubbery. Good for him, I say. One of the ways he spends money to gain time is by paying us to help with his financial affairs.

To our young clients, a reminder: time is money.

To our not-young clients, a different version: money is time.

If you would like to talk about this or anything else, please email us or call.


The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.