Time is More Valuable Than Money

Time and Money

As 2010 comes to a close, it makes sense to take a moment to consider how we have spent our time throughout the past year, and to choose what to focus on in 2011. Anyone planning entrepreneurial adventures in the coming year should be prepared to judiciously manage their time, as it’s one of an entrepreneur’s most precious commodities. Today’s guest post is on the real value of time, from STVP‘s Executive Director, Tina Seelig.

Most people look at their bank accounts with great attention and assess how much money they have to spend, to invest, and to give away… but, they don’t look at their time the same way, and end up wasting this incredibly valuable resource. In fact, time is much more valuable than money because you can use your time to make money, but you can’t use money to purchase more time.

Time is the great equalizer… each day has only 24 hours – nobody has any more than anyone else. Everyone, from poets to presidents, fills those hours, one after the other, until they are all filled up. Every single minute is unique, and once gone, can never be regained.

When you look at someone who has accomplished a lot, you can be pretty sure that he or she has spent considerable amounts of time mastering the required skills, filling hours upon hours with hard work. There are those who look at others’ accomplishments and say, “I had that idea, “ or “I could have done that.” But ideas are cheap and intentions are just that. If you don’t invest the time needed to achieve those goals then all you have are empty ambitions.

People often say, “I don’t have the time to…,” fill in the blank with whatever you like: exercise, make dinner, write a book, start a company, run for political office. What makes these people think that they have less time than anyone else? Of course they don’t. We all have the same 24 hours in each day and make real decisions about how we spend them. If you really want to get in shape, then carve out time to exercise. If you want to write a book, then pick up a pen and do it. And, if you want to run for president, then get started. It isn’t going to happen if you plan your day around your favorite TV shows or spend hours updating your Facebook page. These are entertaining distractions that eat up your irreplaceable time.

I teach a course on creativity and innovation at Stanford University. During a workshop on how to brainstorm I often give the following prompt: There aren’t enough hours in a day. Come up with creative solutions to this dilemma. The brainstorming results in an endless list of solutions – from the practical to the preposterous – demonstrating that there are lots of ways to extract more from each hour, each day, and each year. Some of the most interesting solutions involve figuring out how to do two things at once. I know many people who have successfully incorporated this approach into their own lives.

For instance, I met a woman named Audrey Carlson several years ago who was struggling to figure out how to spend time with her friends and take care of her growing family. She started a group called “Chop and Chat.” Every Sunday six friends got together to cook at a member’s home. Each member brought the ingredients to make a different recipe that was then split into six portions. Members took home six different main courses for the week. Chop and Chat was an inventive way for the women to cook together, socialize, and prepare meals for their families.

Another example is venture capitalist Fern Mandelbaum. You would assume that meetings with Fern take place in her office… and you’d be wrong. Fern is an avid athlete and her meetings take place on hiking paths. Everyone who knows Fern knows to wear walking shoes and carry a bottle of water to their meetings in anticipation of a strenuous hike. Fern finds that this strategy is a great way to get to know each entrepreneur while also getting exercise.

There is an oft-quoted saying that “time is money.” You can interpret this to mean that time is a valuable currency. In fact, each day another 24 hours is deposited into each of our “bank accounts.” We get a choice about how to spend these hours. We decide how much we spend right away, how much gets invested for the future, and how much we give away. The worst choice is to waste these hours by letting them slip away.

It is almost noon, and I have 12 more hours to invest today!


  1. Saria Nadeem says:

    Time is the most valuable currency.

  2. Forrest Glick says:

    This post reminds me of an observation made during an AlwaysOn conference I attended years ago. The panel discussion focused on the pricing of online music content. “Some users have more money than time, and others have more time than money.” The point being that for 99 cents (the price of a song purchased via iTunes at the time) a portion of users were happy to pay and know they were getting a quality product. Other users were willing to spend time searching for a “free” (aka pirated) copy of the music. As online models evolve, it’s worth considering the price of users’ time and what they are willing to pay for it.

  3. Masa K Maeda says:

    Great posting. A recent customer of mine (let’s call him Bob) had a project in very bad shape and his main complaint was the lack of time to finish the project successfully. One main problem I detected was the way he was using his engineers’ time. They were extremely busy mainly because he never gave his team time to build a solid infrastructure; furthermore Bob didn’t let them collaborate and divided the work so that they would focus on separate things under the premise that the more people doing more parts of the project the sooner it would be done. By guiding Bob and his team through innovative ways to communicate and collaborate, and convincing Bob to give time to the engineers to build a solid infrastructure, the project came back on track and is being finished successfully. The engineers spend more time collaborating and their work hours are being gradually reduced to normal while quality has increased.
    We may not be able to change time but we sure can change the way we use it to our advantage.

  4. Actually, you’re all wrong. Time is money. ;)

    Interesting post.

  5. Twice Tshwenyane says:

    This article spot on and it kind of resonates with this one written here at http://bit.ly/dJ32N0 (page 342) by another lady in the late 1800s.

    ‘The value of time is beyond computation. But time squandered can never be recovered. We cannot call back even one moment.

    The human family have scarcely begun to live when they begin to die, and the world’s incessant labour ends in nothingness unless a true knowledge in regard to eternal life is gained. The man who appreciates time as his working day will fit himself for a mansion and for a life that is immortal. It is well that he was born.

    Of no talent He has given will He require a more strict account than of our time. Our time belongs to God.

    We are admonished to redeem the time. But time squandered can never be recovered. We cannot call back even one moment. The only way in which we can redeem our time is by making the most of that which remains, by being co-workers with God in His great plan of redemption..’

  6. Time is really the only totally non renewable, non substitutable resource, and should be treated with the reverence it therefore deserves.

  7. Al Smith says:

    I agree with the other guy, time is money!!

  8. Interesting, I would love to have been a fly on the way in that class. But anyway, I find living your life to the fullest is a foolproof way to offset wasting time. Its now 2011 and most of us are caught up on Facebook and Twitter & dont think twice about the time we waste. Although post like this remind us we are constantly doing it. I’m a small business owner. So I have found that time is truly a form of currency & when wasted it could end up costing me more then a couple dead lines. I would like to revisit on this subject in the near future. Or perhaps start my own discussion on the value of time. Good stuff
    Thank you
    R Randall

  9. Tosin says:

    It is a no brainer that time is more valuable than money, but so many people just mouth and do nothing about it as it concerns there eveeryday living.

    How ridiculous!

  10. Cassandra says:

    I came across this posting when I was doing a google search for examples of time/money clichés (like “Time is Money”) for a presentation I am giving tomorrow. The Moneyspeaks project is my BFA thesis and it deals with the same topics you cover here. I think you’d find it interesting…


    Good to see another person who recognizes the true value of time!

  11. Neil says:

    I’ve always heard the phrase “time is money” and although catchy but other than that it never inspired me. I am in the process of getting certified to become a group instructor at the gym. It is something that I hope I can turn into a full time business and travel the states hosting large classes and training others to become instructors. “…you can use your time to make money, but you can’t use money to purchase more time…” Now that is that is a phrase that makes me realize how my time spent on the business is as tangible as the money I”ve spent on these certifications.

  12. Indeed, you have good idea! You can get more money, but you cannot get more time.

  13. Russell says:

    Money is the physical symbol of “doing” energy. It has become the gauge of how successful one’s ventures in the physical world are. The idea is to use our energy to create value for the world which (hopefully) results in money. The IDEAL is to find creative ways to create value (money) with the least amount of time consumption and burden…

  14. Paul Woods says:

    Well the way I see it you should run a tight schedule stick to your schedule
    to be more time efficient because you should always have time for family and friends in the end.

  15. Nice read i shared it on fb,keep up the good work

  16. A number of years ago a hired consultant made me record all my daily activities for one week in 15 minute slots. This helped me to eliminate some things, learn to multi task and generally make better use of time, the goal being to add more results to my week, and more $$ to the bottom line. I agree time well invested pays better returns.

  17. Ian says:

    Money makes time.When you have a lot of money you employ people to do tasks that would otherwise bedone yourself

  18. Stiforp says:

    Nice article Matt and yes, now in my 50′s I finally realize for the first time that time is worth a lot more than money.


  19. Tim Love says:

    Time is more valuable than money! I discovered this 10 years ago, gave up the rat race to spend more time doing what I considered important, whilst setting up a home business. Guess what… I ended up working more hours on my home business than what I did when I had a regular 9 – 5 job! Duh! So then I realised that to get back to basics I needed to outsource the more mundane, repetitive areas of my home working job and now I have more time again! So I’ve learned this lesson twice!

  20. Jon Kelley says:

    This is an excellent post. Like all things deemed important, time is fleeting. Money comes and goes.

  21. tetsuo says:

    Good writing. I realized that all succesfull people I know value their time a lot, even more than money. And they’re always well organized and never lose time for useless stuff.

  22. I agree, time is more valuable than money, and it is not always looked at that way. However, when we focus on the value of time, so many times we talk about how we should be doing more with that time. I agree with that partially.

    I think that we need to be planning and spending our time wisely, but doing more is not always better. I love the “Chop and Chat” concept because these ladies are not only spending their time wisely – they have created a way to do more of what they enjoy and less of what they don’t like.

    As a business owner, I am in a constant battle to get more done in less time. What I am finding out is that doing more doesn’t always accomplish more. I’m starting to focus more on what I really enjoy and getting rid of the rest.

    Great post!

  23. hengki says:

    nice writing
    I use it for my homework :)
    so thank you very much


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