Professional Time, Leisure Time, and Wasted Time

Most of this article applies to any situation in which someone hires someone else to perform work, whether it’s paying someone to change the oil in their car or hiring a plumber to fix a leaky faucet. On that note, Connie writes in:

Your schedule seems overstuffed. Have you ever considered hiring an assistant or a housecleaner or something?

I have, actually. We earn enough right now to be able to afford hiring some additional help to take some of the hours off of my shoulder, whether it’s helping with the grunt work behind the scenes of The Simple Dollar or doing some of the household chores (dusting, vacuuming, etc.).

We haven’t done it yet, though, for one simple reason. Let’s say, hypothetically, that I hired someone to take care of ten hours of grunt work a week. What would I then do with those extra ten hours in a week?

For starters, it wouldn’t be ten hours. It would be less than ten hours because of the time invested in managing the person I hired, so let’s be very optimistic and call it eight hours.

Out of those eight hours, how many of them would I put to active, productive use? Would I spend that extra time with my family? Would I spend it on engaging work projects? Or would I just squander that time, considering I can already get all of the things done that I need to get done (albeit with little time to spare occasionally)?

I tend to think that I would just squander it.

It’s important to note here that I think there’s a big difference between leisure time and wasting time. I do get a reasonable amount of leisure time in my life – time spent in an activity that I find enjoyable and have specifically chosen to do. What I have very little of is what I call “wasted” time – time spent in no real activity at all. To me, a good life has a balance of productive time and leisure time with little wasted time in it.

What’s “leisure time” and what’s “wasted time”? Leisure time usually has a designated purpose: I’m going to play a game with my friends or I’m going to take a nap because I’m tired. Wasted time occurs when you spend time without any real activity at all: staring off into space, channel surfing, and so on.

I think “wasted time” occurs when you have an inadequate amount of professional (or academic) demands and an inadequate amount of leisure activities you actually wish to be involved in. If you find yourself “wasting time” on a regular basis, then something else is out of balance in your life. Another observation: people with a lot of “wasted time” in their lives tend to be earning far less than they potentially could be.

The only case where I can see that it is logical to hire someone to work for you is if you have a deep inbalance between your leisure and home needs and your professional needs. For example, if you have more work to do than you can possibly complete while still maintaining a reasonable balance between work and leisure, then you might need to hire someone to help with the work tasks. Alternately, if you are capable of managing your work tasks but are incapable of managing your home tasks without eliminating all leisure time, you might want to consider hiring household help.

I don’t think I’m in either camp, actually. I think I have a healthy balance of professional and leisure activities in my life. Hiring someone would merely put that balance out of whack, and the likely result of that would be “wasted time.” Thus, I’d pay someone money to permit me to essentially be idle.

This is why I’m often mystified as to why people sit in a waiting room at Jiffy Lube looking around or flipping through a newspaper or channel surfing while someone changes the oil on their car. They’re essentially exchanging productive time for “wasted time” and paying someone for this “service,” considering that an oil change is fairly easy to do at home. It makes at least some sense to me to drop a vehicle off to get the oil changed and then pick it up later as that’s paying someone to give you more time for professional or leisure activities.

Getting a grip on your professional time and your leisure time does nothing but pay dividends in your life. It helps you to avoid lots of unnecessary expenses and can often reveal what aspects of your life are in trouble and need repair.

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  1. Meredith says:

    I get that if you know how to do an oil change that you can save some time/money by doing it yourself. However, I always call to make an appointment and they change my oil in 1/2 hour or less twice a year. It costs $40 two times a year and I bring my reading material with me; reading is something I like to do so it’s leisure time, just not at my home. I am sure I am capable of learning how to change my oil, but I don’t think the net benefit would be great to me considering that I would have to buy the oil and dispose of the old oil, neither of which are errands I currently have. Additionally, while I’m sure I’m CAPABLE, I have no basis of information for cars and would be really afraid to mess it up. I am sure this is a good money-saving tip for some, but no thanks.

  2. Annie Jones says:

    Anytime I know I will have to wait for something such as an appointment, I try to have a book with me, or at least a notepad and paper to jot down ideas or to-do lists. I’m then able to turn wasted time into meaningful time.

  3. twblues says:

    I wish I could drop my vehicle off and pick it up later, but I would have to pay for a taxi, which would make the oil change cost twice as much. I’ll just make the best of my wait time with a good book, some phone calls, a crossword puzzle, etc.

  4. Karina says:

    So does reading count as wasted time when it’s at the Jiffy Lube? Just curious on your opinion. I almost always carry a book with me, so that when I do have a spare moment I can whip it out and read.

    Also…I commented on a mailbag last week asking a question about the Vanguard Star Account that you recommended for Alex, and my comment never appeared! Just wondering where it went…:(

  5. Gemond says:

    Waiting for a service to be performed is somewhat akin to waiting for meetings to start, waiting for a doctor’s appointment, etc. It does not have to be wasted time if one plans ahead for either a leisure or work/professional-related activity.

    You could even say that commuting on public transportation (or in a car driven by someone else) is “wasted” time if you are not doing anything else during it.

    Most people are simply too lazy or disorganized and that is how they have “wasted” time. Sometimes people just need time to do nothing for even a bit.

    You need time in life for serendipity, for dealing with stuff you haven’t planned (emotionally, etc.) Everything can’t fall into work or leisure. Not always that simple.

    As for doing it yourself, that does not always make financial sense either. I really believe it depends on individual circumstances. Most people I know work as much as they can, but there is always more to do. Most make enough that it makes more sense to hire help for weekly cleaning and periodic “chores” in and outside the house since they have little free or leisure time.

    To me, time is only wasted if you don’t willingly choose to use it based on your needs and plans.

    You are a rare individual if your life is so balanced, especially with three kids. Everyone I know that has kids and works (both partners in a couple), has NO time for much of anything and a lot of it is spent ferrying kids all over the place. Many literally work out of their cars while at soccer games, waiting for kids lessons to be over, etc.

    Your kids are young and they’re not yet in activities. It will change and your time will not be as available to you.

    Also, if you start to make a certain amount of money, it truly makes no sense to NOT hire people to do certain things. And another consideration: Hiring others also contributes to the economy.

    Service workers have been hard hit by the decline in the economy. I know friends who despite their personal financial problems have done everything they can to continue to hire people as they have in the past for services such as household cleaning, gardening, etc. even as they spend that “freed up” time on looking for new business, developing new skills and doing whatever they can to keep or get new business/clients or improve their performance and that of a company they work for.

    You can do a lot to advance your career/profession or your own company with two hours a day that might be spent on chores.

    Penny wise, pound foolish. It all depends on what you do, etc.

  6. RJ Weiss says:

    This concept reminds me how I used to think I was “saving” money but cutting out X or Y from my expenses. However, I wasn’t putting that money towards a specific purpose. I was just saving money here and spending more here.

    Great ideas though. Hiring help is something my wife and I have talked about. We just haven’t found a decent price, especially for lawn work.

  7. Leah says:

    I’m with twblues: I make the most of random down time by carrying a book or doing something. Sometimes, I just take a walk or enjoy having a moment to sit quietly and think. I don’t know that we can really judge all the people in Jiffy Lube waiting for an oil change; maybe some of them are just glad to have a moment to sit down and have nothing required of them.

    Also, can we do something in terms of defining the leisure/wasted time? It concerns TV. Leisure time: sitting down to watch a specific TV show you enjoy. Wasted time: finishing that show and then aimlessly channel surfing for the next two hours just in case something good is on. I don’t mind those who don’t watch TV (and I spent years not watching it myself), but it is possible to have a balanced approach to TV viewing.

  8. Pop says:

    Awesome post. I actually JUST cancelled T.V. on Monday. I’m not saying it’s not good for anyone, but for me, I found myself just killing time looking for something good to watch. Did you see the American time use survey that the government just put out? There are some serious examples of wasted time in there. TV clocked in at 2 hours, 40 minutes per American per day.

  9. Craig says:

    This is completely ridiculous. You’re saying, “I don’t want to save time because I would just waste it anyway.” Imagine the financial equivalent, “I don’t want to save money because I would just waste it anyway.” If someone told you the latter, I imagine you would give them advice on how to NOT waste the money they’re saving with a particular endeavor. Why don’t you try the same with your time. Keep track of the time you’re saving by outsourcing, and put it to good use.

  10. Cassandra says:

    Sitting in Jiffy Lube? One car and we live in an apartment complex and therefore can’t change our own oil. :) I bring a good book.

  11. chacha1 says:

    The Jiffy Lube example struck a nerve with me as an apartment dweller. Y’all, we can’t even *wash* our cars on property. We have no choice but to take it somewhere else.

    And then, as noted, we have the “choice” of waiting for a bus or taxi to take us somewhere else to do something else during the thirty minutes the car is getting dealt with? That’s not only a waste of time, it’s a waste of money.

    Sitting there and reading quietly, on the other hand: leisure. That may be a very much needed break in someone’s over-scheduled day.

    That said, Trent’s distinction between wasted time and leisure time is well made. I think a lot of ambitious people conflate the two, imagining that just because they get enjoyment or relaxation out of an activity rather than professional advancement or financial gain, that the time is wasted. And it isn’t.

  12. Heather says:

    Redirect even a small portion of the free time of educated people, and amazing projects can be accomplished. Researcher Clay Shirky just wrote about this in Cognitive Surplus.

    “Wikipedia took the idea of peer review and applied it to volunteers on a global scale, becoming the most important English reference work in less than 10 years. Yet the cumulative time devoted to creating Wikipedia, something like 100 million hours of human thought, is expended by Americans every weekend, just watching ads.”

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704025304575284973472694334.html

  13. Tara C says:

    My SO’s TV habit exasperates me but he insists that when he gets home from work, he needs to spend 4 hours a night in front of the TV to wind down and not think about work. I find that extremely difficult to believe, but then, he thinks I’m crazy for spending 2 hours a night reading. I think he’s wasting his life and he thinks it’s leisure. I pray for the TV to break so I can throw it away.

  14. Maya says:

    @chacha: Amen! I’m also an apartment dweller, plus I live in the south. It’s literally 100 degrees outside today. I love the general idea of this post, Trent. But I don’t think you will earn the right to judge those of us reading books in an air-conditioned Jiffy Lube until you’ve tried changing your oil in an apartment complex’s parking lot on a hot, humid day.

  15. Steve says:

    Interesting post. Though I’m not sure the distinction between activities is so black and white. Where is the line between leisure and wasted time when you watch a movie? For instance maybe you would say one, carefully selected classic/moving/whatever movie is not wasting time. But one per day might be. But even that you cannot say without considering everything else you do with your time. The value of everything influences the value of everything else. Is it wasted time or family time if you watch the movie with your child? What if your child is a baby, so they can’t appreciate the movie themselves, but do appreciate (as far as you know) sleeping in your arms while you watch?

    Another aspect is that you could be paying money not to free up time, but to reduce stress. E.g. if you have enough money to afford it, and are frequently worried about finding time to clean your house, it might be worth hiring a house cleaner just to reduce stress. Even if all you do during that time is watch a movie while your baby sleeps in your arms.

  16. jim says:

    What you consider ‘leisure’ versus ‘wasted’ time is a matter of personal opinion. If you like doing it then its not wasted. Some people DO like channel surfing even if you don’t.

    Some wasted time can be avoided with better choices or planning. I avoid wasting time at the oil change place by only going when I drive by and see no line. I can’t change my oil faster then the guys do it. But not everyone has that option as their oil change place may be too busy. Some wasted time is forced on us by circumstances or choosing things we prefer or value more. People in rural areas choose to ‘waste’ time by driving longer distances to get anywhere… that is unless they actually enjoy driving a lot.

  17. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    chacha: I view that as an extra cost of living in your apartment.

    jim: you’re absolutely right in that “leisure” versus “wasted” time is different from person to person.

  18. Patty says:

    jim #9…or they don’t make the trip very often.

    Thats just it Trent. Life’s balance. I’m seeking the balance but don’t have it yet. Too much computer/tv time at work and at home makes it hard to find focus and efficiency. Channel surfing or blog surfing…the value gained vs time spent is not equal in my life right now.

  19. LoriBeth says:

    @ Tara C – I’m with you there. It didn’t bother me until I realized that he’d rather watch tv or play on the computer than spend time with me or the children. And now his clock is ticking…..

  20. Rose says:

    Excellent article! Many people fail to comprehend this when they glibly dismiss frugalities by saying, ‘Oh, my time is worth much more than that!’ Oh, really? Are you really going to work an hour extra each week – and make your regular hourly wage for that extra hour – by not clipping coupons? (Or whatever it might be.) It’s fine if the stress/hassle is not worth it to you; just please don’t pretend that your leisure time is more valuable than mine.

  21. rosa rugosa says:

    I don’t think there’s any need to quibble over what constitutes wasted time. I certainly know when I’m not using my time to its best advantage, and I suspect that most of us know this if we’re being honest with ourselves. I like the distinction between watching an enjoyed show and channel surfing. I don’t watch TV, but the same holds true for my computer. Reading a few carefully chosen blogs, vs. randomly poking around online when I should be doing something else is essentially the same type of analogy.

  22. sheila says:

    @ RJ Weiss

    “I used to think I was “saving” money but cutting out X or Y from my expenses. However, I wasn’t putting that money towards a specific purpose. I was just saving money here and spending more here.”

    I used to do the same thing! That is, until I read somewhere that you don’t really save any money unless you put the savings to work for you.

    Now I make a game out of tracking my savings in various areas and assigning a specific job for each. I put all any “cash back” (such as bank rewards, rebates, etc.) into a specific savings account to help me buy a new computer. I also do a version of “keep the change” — rounding up each purchase to the nearest dollar and putting the difference into a kitty every few weeks to use for an inexpensive date with my husband.

    I’m trying to get my husband in on the act by letting him choose what goal to put the next amount toward. I hope that if I keep doing this, he will adopt the habit himself.

  23. Paul says:

    Not only is leisure vs. wasted time different from person to person, but wasted time can in some cases be more valuable than leisure time. There are diminishing returns you can get from social, learning, and other “healthful” activities that can be outweighed by just vegging out for a few hours.

  24. Barb says:

    Hmmmmm. As someone who lived in Europe for years and was able to afford a housekeeper/cleaning person I expect I have a slightly different perspective. First, I never had to “manage”t his person after the first couple weeks she was in my home (admittedly I am not a type a so I figure as long as she cleans I am happy. If its not how I would clean, so be it). and secondly I never had a problem finding any thing to do. Was some of that time “aimless”? Absolutely. However I would not consider that time wasted. I suppose if youre someone who has problems fulfilling time constructiely, then it would be a waste. AS someone who reads, quilts, games, does crosswords, travels, plays golf and who knows what else, I never have time expanding activities to fill time. As for the person waiting at Jiffy lube? That would be me, getting a quarter of my book read completely uninterrupted.

  25. I am all about making the most of my time. But if I managed to gain some extra time by outsourcing certain tasks, would I waste some of it? Absolutely. But you know what? I would be happier, healthier, more relaxed and a more enjoyable person to be around.

  26. It seems to me like you are the type of person who likes every moment and detail of their life to be planned and scheduled. I wouldn’t be able to enjoy life without being spontaneous or by having every second planned with scheduled leisure time activities. A recent example of this is about a week ago when I asked my girlfriend, “What should we do this weekend?” “I don’t know, we don’t have any plans.” “Want to go to Canada?” “Okay.” In 12 hours we were on the road, on our way to Canada. Those are the sorts of things that flavor my life. I spend a lot of time traveling (I’m in Kaua’i, Hawai’i right now, actually) and I never plan activities before arriving. I have an idea of what I’d like to see but don’t schedule anything since I like the flexibility to do as I chose, when I chose and not be tied to a prearranged itinerary.

    So, long story short, I’m just curious how you handle such things as sponteneity.

  27. Michael says:

    Trent, if you hired an assistant, wouldn’t you spend more time doing your best and favorite work? I realize you know yourself best, of course.

  28. Judy says:

    Not to be rude or anything, but I sometimes wonder whether Trent’s life is not too/over structured. I guess it’s just differences in personalities, but I actually do enjoy ‘wasting time’ once in a while without worrying that I have not been productive.

  29. Victoria says:

    I don’t even see these things as a time issue. I see them more as a preference issue.

    Like I don’t think you really want to relinquish control over to someone else to do the so-called 10 hours of “grunt work” a week. The fact that you call it grunt work indicates a lack of respect for the work itself and the person you theoretically might hire for it, which isn’t a good thing.

    It also seems like hiring a person to do the work would be in your best interest because you sound stressed out.

    I think it’s interesting you placed a nap under leisure time. Some folks would deem that laziness.

    I don’t mow the lawn and hire someone to do it because of a health issue, not a time issue. I get very sick working that hard in high heat and humidity. I do not choose to feel that ill and I am very grateful to the person that mows my lawn. And some people would deem me lazy as well.

    It may be easy for some people to change their oil, but I’m not about to learn how to do it. I’m not going to get under a jacked-up car (doesn’t sound that safe) and try to get off the nut or bolt or whatever it is under there.

    I may sound like a priss, but I’m just realistic about what I’ll do. And I’m not going to go to a Quick Lube Place either and risk having my car ruined. I’ll take it to my trusted mechanic.

    In response to #7 Tara C, I know TV people and anti-TV people (and all other types of “opposites”) need to be good to each other and very understanding or not be in a relationship with that sort of dynamic (not advocating a break-up). Be fair, loving, generous and considerate about each of your individual POVs. It’s not difficult to believe your guy’s POV at all nor is it difficult to understand why you don’t like TV. And, you never know, maybe he prays for your books to disappear. :)

    I have the luxury of working and earning a full-time income at home with the TV on in the background. I like TV, but I don’t like just sitting in front of it doing nothing else. Some people do, I’m not about to judge them.

    The best thing to do is always feel good about what you prefer to do and what everyone else prefers to do and don’t worry about what other people think. Live and let live.

    Like #9 Jim said, time is a personal thing.

    Time is yours to do with as you will. Enjoy life and those around you!

  30. Charles Cohn says:

    I am glad to be able to hire out work that I hate (specifically, yard work). I don’t have to care whether I have a “constructive” activity to do instead.

    I do change my own oil, but I understand where apartment dwellers don’t have the freedom to do that.

  31. Kestra says:

    I strongly agree with the posters who say that hiring out can be worth it. If it’s a task that you really dislike and you can afford to pay someone else, then the improvement to quality of life can be well worth the money. It’s more about the YMOYL philosophy about getting the greatest personal value for the amount of money you’re spending. Maybe I’m spoiled but since I happen to be one of the “lucky” ones born in North America, leading a middle-class lifestyle, I might as well make the most of it. I’d like to spend my time doing things I am good at and/or enjoy, or at least not detest. If I can find ways to avoid the other stuff, then that seems fine. That doesn’t mean it’s all about me. I do like lots of down-time, but stuff I’m good at/enjoy can also be volunteering or community projects. If hiring someone to do my house cleaning or yard-work frees up my time for other useful personal pursuits, I thinks that’s a positive all around.

  32. Evangeline says:

    I guess it is all about using your time to its best advantage, or ‘to each his own.’ I don’t mind getting the oil changed at the dealership. The work gets done, its warranted, the car is washed and it might be the only 30 minutes that day I get to just sit and read a nice magazine. Besides, I would not extract any satisfaction from doing it myself. However, yard work is another story. My neighbor hires someone to do it and I’m content doing my own mowing, raking and pruning. It all goes back to where you place your value on time and money .

  33. joane says:

    Good post. I realized recently that with all my commitments, I have about 3 hours between Monday and Friday to do anything besides the minimum day to day maintenance – and most often that is taken up by a doctor apppt., hair appt., or doing something for my family, or just being too tired. So I would find myself spending most of my weekends housecleaning, paying bills, etc. So now I have scheduled a housekeeper to come in, so I can have time to get to all the other things that I can’t hire people to do – and enjoy some leisue activities on weekends.

  34. As I think Ben Franklin put it, time is indeed money.

    Put simply, you need to eliminate wasted time and manage your professional time down to the minute.

    Mastering these two arts, and they are arts, will give you an abundance of the most important—leisure time.

  35. Sandy L says:

    Can’t help comment about the jiffy lube thing too. I’ve changed oil in my cars before and now go out and get it done.

    It actually think it takes longer to change your oil yourself. It takes time to go out to buy the oil + filter. Time to go dispose of the spent oil, Time to change it, and time to clean yourself up after rolling around under your car.

    I guess if you’re super organized you can add those items to your shopping list, but for me, it was always a spur of the moment activity. The true reason I stopped doing it is access. I could reach the oil plug easily on my last car, but the new one is a pain in the butt to get at. It’s worth the $120/year to just have someone do it.

    I never have problems filling my day though. Not wanting to part with money is my primary do-it yourself motivator.

  36. Meredith says:

    “The only case where I can see that it is logical to hire someone to work for you is if you have a deep inbalance between your leisure and home needs and your professional needs.”

    Could there be another reason? For me I can no longer physically do what I used to be able to do because of a disease. If I did do my own yard work I would not be able to go to work the next day or the day after that. I might end up in the hospital. Maybe that person sitting waiting for their oil change is me.
    What works for one person might not be best for another. I do not spend any of my time cutting, sorting, organizing coupons. Let alone buying and recycling the newspaper that the coupons came in. Food coupon items are unhealthy and encourage me to purchase items I do not even need.
    Would you be willing to look at this from another angle? People may place different values on things depending on their abilities.
    Another thing to consider is someone’s time may be more effectively used doing something that produces income exceeding the cost of cutting the grass.

  37. Barb says:

    I would just add that some people really want/need to have a scheduled life. That sounds like you trent, and that isnt a bad thing in any way. However, I work at home, and i have no schedule. I do what I want each day, and some days less gets done than other days. But I woujld be uncomfortale saying, well, now its this time, and now its this time………hence my different perspective

  38. zoranian says:

    I do have a lot of wasted time, but I do get my oil changed at the “quick change” place so it takes less time than it would if I did it myself. Is it cheap, no, but it saves a ton of time and probably wouldn’t get done otherwise. Most of my wased time is time spent avoiding household or work activities.

  39. Liz says:

    Regarding the oil change: not only may it be difficult to change the oil itself, in my state it must be properly recycled. Not easy to do if you are an individual and have to hunt a disposal site.

  40. Tracy says:

    I can’t even conceive of wasted time. If I’m not actively enjoying myself/relaxing, I switch to something else during my ‘down time’. I actually hire somebody both to clean my house *and* to do yard work – it fits within my budget and I hate both those tasks so much that it’s more than worth it to me. Not only can they do it better/faster than I can, I don’t have to stress out about when I’m not doing it but should and then actively be bored/annoyed when I’m doing it.

    And being able to spend those extra hours relaxing/reading/with friends&family/watchingTV/whatever is far superior – it’s not just about what my time is worth, in some sort of earnings-per-hour formula, but what my quality of life and happiness is worth to me.

    If I couldn’t afford it, obviously the stress of debt/depriving myself would counteract the relief of not having to do those things, and that would negatively impact my quality of life. But as long as I can, I am absolutely thrilled to be able to hire somebody to do the stuff I hate.

  41. Stephanie says:

    If I were to drop my car off for an oil change, I’d need my wife to pick me up and then take me back to retrieve the car. To me, it’s often better to wait rather than inconvenience her and take away her productive or leisure time. I’m happy to read my book (or knit) wherever. If I’m getting something done by having my oil changed at the same time, it seems to me that I’m spending that time in both kinds of activities at once — being productive by getting the oil changed and having leisure time by reading or knitting.

  42. I always struggle with a balance in life. Leisure time is hard for me since once I get home from work I have so much to do!

    I’m hoping that after I have my baby in September and become a stay at home mom that I’ll be able to enjoy leisure time aside from the work that needs to be done. Fortunately I really enjoy house work!

  43. chacha1 says:

    Trent: getting an oil change isn’t a cost of living in an apartment. It’s a cost of owning a car.

    From the number of people who agree with me (though for other reasons), I think this is just one of those things that you see differently because your lifestyle is pretty much opposite a lot of ours.

  44. Gretchen says:

    I’m not even changing my own wiperblades anymore- by the time I went and bought the blades, figured out how to put them on, blah blah, not worth the $2 savings. Plus that you can toss in the garbage, unlike oil.

    Bonus points, though, for not using the TV is a waste of time example for once.

  45. littlepitcher says:

    1-Apartment dwellers with limited tool storage probably will pay for the oil change.
    2-Anyone not absolutely destitute can afford a book and reading is not a time-waster unless you read pure junk. Smartphones have e-readers and budgeting or other apps which can be updated during the wait time.
    This also applies to the cost and time trade-offs on mass transit.
    3-The law of diminishing returns applies here. Can you make enough in your freed-up time to cover the fees/wages plus the hassle–a substantial hassle in the case of domestic taxes and paperwork?
    4-Do you enjoy the routine work? Some utilize grunt work for mindfulness meditation, or find it otherwise relaxing.

  46. iamellis says:

    I think the need to always be productive is a terrible lie… with that said I presume Trent is over-stating his case. A little bit of wasted time can be good for the soul.

  47. Dottie says:

    I think it’s funny you used the example of an “Jiffy Lube”oil change as a waste of time. In my life I consider it a time saver. I have to make a bank deposit for work about 3 times a week and drive by a “Jiffy Lube” to get to the bank. When I start to notice it’s time for an oil change I start to pay attention to the line of cars. In the past 6 years I have never waited in line. When I notice it is empty I pull right in.. I don’t even get out of the car when they change the oil, usually clean out my purse and straighten up the truck while I wait. I have never spent more than 10-15 min. max each visit and leave with new oil and a clean purse! Yes, it costs more to have someone else do it, but hey I guess this is one life’s luxuries for me..I am not about to crawl under an SUV and do it myself.

  48. KC says:

    It’s funny cause I just had my oil changed today. I’ll be honest, I don’t know how to do it and I don’t like to get dirty. It’s well worth it for me to drive 10 mins to the oil change place and spend 20 mins letting them do it while I read a book or check on email via my phone. I can only imagine how much time it would take me to change my oil – more than 30 mins I suspect when you log in the time to drive to the auto parts place for filter, oil, etc. I also think I’d probably hurt something eventually – cut my hand, tear a nail, etc.

    My point is some activities are productive uses of our time and some are not. Changing oil is not worth it to me. However I will replace wiper blades or the air filter – it’s safer and cheaper than having jiffy lube do it. I don’t do yard work and neither does my husband – we’ve both mildly injured ourselves in the past fiddling with blades, weedeater twine, hedgetrimmers, etc. And we dont’ enjoy it – so much so that we put it off til the job is twice as hard as it should be. But I do clean the house – I don’t mind it, I do a good job and I know I won’t hurt myself. Plus you do housework year round – yard work just in the summer for the most part – so if you have to choose one it’s cheaper to have a lawn worker than a maid. We all choose tasks we enjoy and are capable at – we do those ourselves to save money. Other jobs we hire out due to our lack of ability to do them and do them well.

  49. Jan says:

    It’s well worth the money to me to have a housekeeper come twice a month rather than spend my weekend time scrubbing toilets and vacuuming. I like a clean house but hate having my weekends devoted to chores. Yes we have teenagers now and we all share the chores, but I long for the days when I could just write a check instead.

  50. Crystal says:

    We have a biweekly housekeeper, a biweekly lawn guy, and a mechanic. I could technically do all of this myself, but I don’t want to. I want to save for my future and live in my present…my ideal life just doesn’t include hours of chores, lawn care, or car services.

    I’m not sure if the time I save is used for anything special, but I guess it would be considered “leisure time”…time with friends, hubby, family, and my blog. Of course, your definition of “wasted time” seems just a little silly…how often does anybody just sit around and really do nothing? I’m guessing from past posts that watching tv is “wasted time”, but I’ve already disagreed with that, so I’ll move on. I think paying for services is awesome if you have your financial life in order already. It’s not like I can take all of my “saved” money to the grave with me…

  51. Steffie says:

    As for hiring someone to do stuff you can do for yourself, if everyone did everything for themselves where would all of these debt-ridden people find those part-time jobs that are always mentioned as a way to get out of debt ? Sometimes it is just nice to sit and do nothing while the guy is changing my oil etc.

  52. Russ Smith says:

    Amazing Trent, great article again. I’m always pleasantly surprised when i visit your site. Thanks for another great and applicable article.

  53. marta says:

    I was thinking exactly the same thing, Steffie.

    We don’t have to do *everything* ourselves. Otherwise even more people would be unemployed! When I go to a hairdresser to have my hair cut, when I hire professionals to paint my walls, etc, I am contributing to the economy. Other people hire *me* to do specific jobs they can’t (or won’t) do themselves.

    I have also said before that I don’t particularly care for having every minute of my time accounted for. Today I took a couple of buses to run a few errands. During the trips, I looked at the views, checked my e-mail on my phone, and so on. Waste of time? Nope. I needed those few minutes of downtime today.

  54. Michelle says:

    I choose to get my oil changed at the most expensive place in town. Why? Because I can sit in my car while they do it, and I don’t have to get my 3 kids out, try and keep them calm in a waiting room, then load them back up. If I were to try and do it at home, I’d have to hire a sitter to come watch the 3 kids while I did it! Not to mention the fee charged for recycling old oil. So, I have 3 choices, 1) Hire a sitter, change my own oil, and pay the recycling fee 2) Take my kids to a cheap oil change place and fight with them for an hour or 3) Go to the more expensive place, sit in the car with everyone strapped in car seats, and pay for the privilege. I’ll go with option 3. To me, it’s something worth paying for.

  55. Todd says:

    If you do hire help, please treat those providing this work fairly. I hired a lawn service a few years ago, always dealing with the business office. One day, in speaking with one of the two workers mowing and trimming my grass, they told me they were being paid $6 an hour and were expected to finish two yards per hour. I was paying $30 for their 30 minutes a week of work on my yard–and they were getting $3 each for that half hour. I asked them if they would come and take care of my yard themselves (using my mower and trimmer) in the evenings for $25. They were very excited for the chance. I encouraged my neighbors to do the same.

    These guys eventually started their own lawn business, and they make a lot more than minimum wage. I hate the thought that someone might be mowing my yard or scrubbing my floors for minimum wage, while someone else pockets the profits. Get to know the people who are doing work for you and help make sure they are treated fairly.

  56. Sarah says:

    Good post — I wrestle with this concept when I consider hiring a house cleaner. I have arrived at a similar place. Sometimes I miss out on fun activities because I work all week, have five kids under ten and then on the weekends I need to clean and organize. However, I am forced to focus and hone my time. When I have hired a house cleaner I’ve found that I didn’t better use my time. To constrast, when I have a lot to do it becomes about priorities. When I prioritize my kids, and then teach them to clean with me then things work the best. If I can’t get done everything on my list, I begin to question priorities and think about simplifying.

  57. Nikki says:

    I consider this everytime I drop my clothes off to be washed and folded. I’ve been doing this for about 4 months now. I really hate doing laundry, I rarely actually get everything folded, hung up, and put away when I do it, and I feel like I’m wasting time while I’m doing it – I live in an apartment complex, I do not have a washer and dryer in my apartment (it would cost over $500 to have one installed) and I don’t feel comfortable leaving my laundry in the machines while I go off and do something else, so I’m stuck there for at least an hour and a half. Then, I have to spend at least 20 minutes folding and putting clothes on hangers, or I spend 15 minutes every morning digging through the piles of clean laundry for something to wear, and then ironing it (yes, I AM whining about it!). And, it costs between $6.75 and $9 to do, every two weeks.

    When I drop my clothes off, it costs me between $20 and $35 every two weeks. I drop them off (takes about 15 minutes to drive there, have everything weighed, and get my ticket), go run my errands (grocery shopping, library, vet, etc.), have lunch with a friend, get a call to pick up, and take 10 minutes to pay, pick up, and drive home. Everything is clean, folded, on hangers, ready to put away (five minutes tops).

    So, yes, I WILL exchange 2-3 hours of my salary, and 20-30 minutes of my time, every two weeks to get my laundry done. Better that than 30 minutes to an hour of my salary, and 2 hours or more of my time.

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