Wasted Moments

by Karen Kuebler

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Elbert Hubbard, a philosopher from the turn of the century, stated that our opportunities are available in the by-products of our daily existence. These by-products are the few minutes here and there that we don't think much about.

I decided to think more about the by-products of my daily existence and demonstrate opportunities that are easily taken for granted. For purposes of my illustration, I valued my time at \$25 per hour and provide nine examples that would take place in the course of an ordinary day:

1. I regularly utilize our Public Library for books and movies. By using the Internet to place holds and renew items, I save at least one hour per week. Annual savings = \$1,300.
2. By grouping my errands and only shopping from lists, I save many wasted trips and countless moments wandering around stores. A conservative estimate would be 1.5 hours saved per week totaling \$1,950 in savings for one year.
3. It's embarrassing to admit that I used to watch a soap opera every day for 25 years! I calculated that 5 hours per week added up to 260 hours in one year. The amount saved by not watching this program was \$6,500 per year. Even more frightening, the opportunity costs lost watching this program for 25 years = \$162,500!
4. Doing all of my banking (deposits and bill paying) via electronic funds transfers easily saves 2 hours per month for a total of 24 hours = \$600 saved per year.
5. Interruptions take a big bite out of each day. By putting controls into place to minimize interruptions, I easily gain 30 minutes per day for a total of 182 hours a year = \$4,550 saved annually.
6. By preparing extra food when cooking meals and freezing leftovers, I save at least 2 nights per week of time consuming meal preparation. A conservative estimate would be a savings of 2 hours per week = \$2,600 saved annually.
7. If I tape two favorite television programs, 5 days per week and watch them at my convenience, I can fast forward commercials saving 15 minutes per program. Saving 30 minutes, 5 days a week in wasted commercials nets 130 minutes per year = \$3,250 saved annually.
8. Setting my alarm 30 minutes earlier each day gives me 182 hours or 7.5 days more per year to spend doing something of significance. Whether it is reading, exercising, mediating or working on a project, I have just added 7.5 days to my year = \$4,550 in yearly savings!
9. I am often kept waiting 5 minutes here, 10 minutes there (or more) for other people to show up for an appointment or meeting. My time might not be of value to the person who has kept me waiting, but I am going to guard this precious asset as much as I possibly can. I carry a folder with reading material and notecards with me. If I gain a minimum of 15 minutes a day from those who have kept me waiting, I will have used the time to catch up on my reading and correspondence while saving an equivalent of \$2,281 annually.

These examples are very ordinary ways in which time slips away from us each day. I used a conservative amount of \$25 per hour and conservative estimates of time wasted with examples such as interruptions and waiting for meetings/appointments. I would actually value my time at a higher rate, but for purposes of the examples I shared, we just witnessed how I could easily waste the equivalent of \$27,581 in one year. It becomes mind boggling when you attach a numerical value to your time.

Examine the "by-products" of your day, those moments that might otherwise tick away unnoticed. Attach a monetary value to this precious commodity and become aware of the dollars going down the drain when this valuable resource is lost forever. Time is an "equal opportunity" resource. Everyone receives the same amount each day and it can't be saved for another day. Once this moment is gone, it is gone forever. Make sure that you are making the best use of each minute that you have. You will achieve your goals by capturing today and controlling each critical moment by effectively using the "by-products" of your daily living.

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