Entrepreneurs

Council Post: How The Pandemic Changed The Value Of Time Vs. Money For Business Owners: A Guide

By Arash Asli, co-founder and CEO of Yocale.com, an online scheduling and client management software for appointment-based businesses.

The global pandemic has forever altered the ways in which we live our lives, and perhaps no place better encapsulates this than Google’s autocomplete predictions; a simple search beginning with “the pandemic has changed” ends with our lives, the way we work, me, education, the world, the way consumers shop, business and on and on.

One of the most common threads is that the pandemic has altered the way we value time.

This is not a new idea, but we are only beginning to see the true reckoning of it now.

Just recently, Microsoft predicted that approximately 40% of the global workforce is considering leaving their jobs in what has been coined “the Great Resignation.”

Similarly, “hustle culture” is presumed to be dead. 

And now?

Perhaps in a twisted turn of events, especially for many business owners trapped in a vicious cycle of earning more money, we are finding that money does not necessarily lead to greater satisfaction. 

But do you know what does?

Time.

Of course, the research has suggested this for years, but it is only now becoming part of the cultural conversation. 

So, the question becomes: How can business owners, caught up in a habit of working harder and harder because they believe money will enrich their lives (and even for those trying to make ends meet), shift their mindset?

Why Business Owners Should Prioritize Time Over Money (According To Research)

Historically, greater income has been associated with greater well-being. However, research is beginning to shift on the topic. 

Research published in the Social Psychological and Personality Science journal repeatedly shows that valuing time over money is associated with greater well-being, including here and here

Furthermore, research has found that there is actually a tipping point when greater income is no longer associated with well-being (and can actually have a negative effect).

A 2010 study found that while income is associated with greater life evaluation (thoughts about one’s life) and emotional well-being, emotional well-being does not increase beyond an annual income of $75,000.

Similarly, a more recent study published in Nature Human Behaviour in 2018 found that while satiation occurs globally at $95,000 for life evaluation and $60,000 to $75,000 for emotional well-being, greater income beyond this satiation level is actually associated with lower life evaluations.

So, the old cliche holds true: Money does not appear to buy happiness. 

And not only does valuing time over money lead to increased well-being, it has also been proven to facilitate social connection. This makes sense, but the implications of this are important, with social relationships proven to improve mental health, physical health and lifespan. 

How To Prioritize Time Over Money

But if valuing time over money is associated with greater well-being, how can business owners make this shift? Here are some suggestions:

Spend More Time Thinking About Time And Less About Money. It may sound obvious, but research has shown that thinking about time motivates individuals to spend more time with family and friends and less time working. In contrast, thinking about money causes people to socialize less and work more. 

A lot of this has to do with becoming aware of one’s thoughts; meditation has been identified as a consistent alternative therapy to develop consciousness.

Working on improving your emotional intelligence also goes hand in hand with this, too. 

• Purchase Time-Saving Services (Buy Time). Perhaps ironically, research has also shown that time-saving services, such as housecleaning, increase relationship satisfaction. Not only do these services reduce stress but they also propel couples to spend more time with each other; interestingly, couples will even spend more time with each other in the midst of high stress levels. 

This concept of “buying time” can extend to time-buying services within your business in the form of outsourcing (payroll, and so on).

• Process Management (Work Smarter, Not Harder). Within a business context, process management is imperative. In short, it’s about identifying core business processes and improving them — but in the right way (that is, with software that automates and streamlines).

For appointment-based businesses like salons, therapists or even lawyers and notaries where time is quite literally money, manual tasks like scheduling and capturing data can be completely automated with online booking and client management software, reducing time on the phone by 80%, according to my company’s findings.

The same is true of administrative tasks that involve paperwork. Notaries involved in the sale of a property, for example, can eliminate this process with an automated, digital form. Health providers, as another example, can easily use a practice management system to reduce the need to dig up receipts. Other businesses can use an inventory manager to reduce the need for manual counting, reporting tools can predict future sales and so on. 

• Recognize That More Hours Do Not Equal Greater Productivity. Research has also shown that longer hours do not translate into increased productivity; a study by Stanford University, for instance, found that output reduces drastically after 55 hours. It’s exactly why more companies are moving toward a four-day workweek.

• Optimize Your Workspace To Promote Effectiveness (Without Overwork). Finally, research supports a myriad of small ways that people can boost productivity in a given day; this includes standing desks, natural sounds and even blue-light glasses.

Wrapping It Up

While greater financial resources have historically been associated with greater well-being, research shows that there is a tipping point after which more money also detracts from it. 

Furthermore, we now know that valuing time over money increases happiness and leads to more social relationships (with implications for health and lifespan).

But in order to tap into the powerful benefits of a time-centric perspective, business owners must quite literally spend time thinking about the value of time instead of money.

They must also buy time-saving services, strengthen their process management (and invest in time-saving software) and rest.

If they do this, they’ll see greater returns, not only in the context of their personal well-being but also in terms of productivity.

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