A couple of weeks ago Eric declared that the person who coined the phrase, “time is money,” is an idiot. Benjamin Franklin has been called many things, but idiot is not a word commonly found associated with one of our most famous founding fathers.
I didn’t take issue with everything Eric said in his post, but he missed the mark for a large part of society and he has been good enough to allow me the opportunity to offer a counter argument.
What was that idiot Ben Franklin thinking?
The quote, Time is Money, dates to 1748 and was written by Benjamin Franklin in the essay “Advice to a Young Tradesman.” It was written in and for a different time, but the truth remains. The full quote reads:
Remember, that time is money. He that can earn ten shillings a day by his labor, and goes abroad, or sits idle, one half of that day, though he spends but six pence during his diversion or idleness, ought not to reckon that the only expense; he has really spent, or rather thrown away, five shillings besides.
Exactly! There’s more to consider than how little money you spend during your down time, you have to take into account how little you work during your productive time.
Time is Money from an employer’s perspective
For those of you who aren’t self-employed, how many of you do not waste one minute of your employer’s time? In a 2013 study conducted by Salary.com, an IBM company, only 10% of respondents claimed they did not waste any of their employer’s time. A shocking 11% claimed they wasted “a few hours a day” and 24% admitted to wasting an hour a day. In other words, a full 90% of employees admitted to taking money for time they did not work.
How are people wasting their employer’s time and money? A good 43% say they spent that time chatting with coworkers and 28% admitted to surfing the web instead of doing their jobs. I wonder how many of these people would think it was fair for their employer to pay them 70-90% of their salary?
You think time isn’t money in this situation? Just ask the employer who is paying 90% – or any percent – of his employees to not work.
Time is Money from the perspective of the self-employed
I am self-employed as are most of my friends and to some degree we all understand that time has a value and sometimes that value is expressed in dollars. Not one of us is a fool.
The idea that we sit there and calculate to the microsecond how much money we lose when we go watch little Timmy’s baseball game is silly. We’re talking very basic math here and surprisingly enough most of us can do it rather quickly in our heads. Many of us are self-employed for the very reason that we want the flexibility to be able to spend more time with our families, but we also understand that there are only so many hours in a day and if we’re going to support our families we have to spend many of those hours working. Quick math allows us to decide how many hours we need to work that day and which hours will be allocated to our work.
Do I put a dollar figure on every hour of the day? Of course not! It’s ludicrous to think that. I’m not sure I’ve ever met anyone who lives by an absolute rule that “time is money.” I don’t actually use the saying, but it is something that rests in the back of my mind as I plan my day. Anyone who has worked for themselves and especially those of us who work from home, know how many distractions there are. Thinking of time as money to avoid distractions isn’t a bad thing in this situation.
Yes, time is fleeting. This is exactly why it is important to recognize that in certain situations, your time has a dollar value on it. Whether you set that dollar figure or an employer sets it, you should make as much of that time as possible. If you don’t, you risk cheating your employer, your family or both.