Lately, I’ve been feeling pretty stressed about my free time. I’ve taken on so many commitments, both at work and in my personal life, that I don’t seem to have much time for myself. My weekday schedule follows the same pattern of: wake up, do “morning chores” (feed cats, take out their litter, empty the dishwasher, put in a load of laundry, make breakfast, water plants on patio/garden), work from 9-5, exercise, feed the cats, make dinner, watch TV for an hour, go to bed. My weekends are no better. On Saturday, I go grocery shopping at the farmer’s market, tend to our garden for several hours, clean the bathroom or wash our bed sheets depending on which week it is, do any other chores which came up during the week, cook dinner, watch TV, sleep. On Sunday, I: clean the espresso machine, sweep, mop, vacuum, squeeze in an hour of video games, and finish up with an outing that usually lasts the entire day.
By the end of Sunday, I’m exhausted from the long week and disappointed that I didn’t have a solid multi-hour block to sit back, unwind, and do something that I really want to do: like take a really long flight in Flight Simulator, play Minecraft or Valheim, tweak my homelab, or read a book. I usually wake up on Monday anxious about all the chores I need to get done with the goal of getting them done before Sunday so that I will have free time at the week’s end.
I don’t even have kids! I know it will get worse when I do.
Of course when I stumbled upon the “What is your time really worth to you?” quiz from clearerthinking.org on hackernews, I took it immediately. Turns out, my free time is worth a lot to me: on the order of hundreds of dollars an hour. I’m desperate to get just a few more minutes of free time out of my days.
I’m taking the results of my “test” to the extreme – for the past month, every time I have the thought “am I wasting my time?”, I try to find a way to spend money in order to give myself more free time. Here are some examples that I’ve found so far – some of which spend money and some don’t.
- I registered for Global Entry (and by extension TSA Pre-Check) to save myself time at the airport. This cost $100 and so far, I’ve saved a few hours on our vacation to Banff National Park.
- I hired cleaners to come bi-weekly to help clean areas which I spend a lot of time on: the stove, bathroom, cabinet doors, and vacuuming cat hair off the couch. This cost $75 per visit and have saved me a few hours so far.
- In general, I’m trying to look things up on the Internet less. I find that I spend way too long searching for something “perfect” when in reality a single recommendation will do. For example, we recently went on a vacation to Banff National Park and actually used the Visitors Center that we seemed skip on all of our other vacations. We had spent a few hours trying to figure out plans for Canoeing – the visitors center gave us an answer in less than 5 minutes. Easy.
- If I buy food and water when I’m hungry, even if it means paying a bit more or sacrificing quality, I noticed that I’m happier than if I waited for something better (while starving). Again, this helped us out in our recent Banff vacation.
I’ll continue looking for ways to give myself back some time. There are a few things that I’d like to try that I haven’t been able to yet: hiring a laundry service to pick up my laundry, hiring a personal assistant to help me manage my email inbox, hiring someone to help come up with my weekly meal plans.
I fully realize that several of these are only possible because I’m fortunate enough to have money to spend. The concept of spending money to get back time is still new to me, however, since I grew up in a relatively frugal household.