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5 Questions That Will Save You Time And Money

5 Questions That Will Save You Time And Money

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    When you’re thinking about productivity, one of the most important questions you should ask yourself is just how much your time is worth. There is no question that there are some tasks you should pay other people to do, but it can be hard to decide just which ones to hand over to trained professional — especially if you are trying to save money.

    Beyond that one crucial question, though, there are plenty of smaller issues that can help you decide which tasks will save you money without inhibiting your productivity and which will end up just being a waste of your time. These questions will help you bring balance to both your spending and to your time.

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    1. Do I have the skills necessary for the task? Sure, I can probably save a boatload of money by fixing my own plumbing.  Just getting a plumber to come out and look at a problem could cost me a hundred dollars. And there’s guaranteed to be a couple hours of my time that gets used up along with my money, while I wait around for the plumber to show. But, unless the problem is extremely minor, I’ll probably hand over my money to the plumber. The fact of the matter is that, even with a home repair guide by my side, I know I don’t have the skills to fix most plumbing issues. And the ones that I can puzzle through will probably take up far more hours of my day. We’re not going to even think about the cost of my making the problem worse.
    2. How much do I enjoy the task? I enjoy gardening, which I could probably forgo in favor of buying vegetables at the supermarket for a lower cost in terms of my time. However, I enjoy my hobby and I’m more than happy to spend a little time on it — even if the return on my time may not be quite worth the time I lavish on my hobby. In contrast, there are a couple of tasks I absolutely hate — like just about everything having to do with cars. I’ll pump gas, but the odds of getting me to do something like change my own oil are slim to none. I’ll gladly pay money to get out of that particular task.
    3. Is a compromise available? So many tasks seem to fall into one of two categories: you either do it yourself or you hire someone to do it. But there are plenty of tasks that you can compromise on: you can do the easy parts of the job and only pay someone else for the parts you don’t find worth your while. A good example might be setting up a website. If you’re a designer, you would probably be very comfortable doing all the design work on the site, and even coding it up yourself. But you might hire someone to write some or all of the website’s content.  And if you find someone you can work well with for paying projects, you can often increase the amount of work you can take on — upping income for both of you.
    4. Can I get this done without spending money? There are plenty of options for getting people to take on tasks without paying cash. There are, after all, other incentives. Students of various types are often looking for experience, such as student massage therapists who while offer free or cheap massages while they’re studying. There are occasions where you get exactly what you pay for, but it’s a strategy often worth investigating. Other options can include bartering — trading something you’ll be doing anyhow for a service from another person is ideal. I’ll often pick up something from the store for my neighbor in exchange for her pet-sitting while I’m traveling.
    5. Is it really practical for me to take on a given task? While I really like the thought of raising my own chickens so that I can stop buying eggs, it isn’t a practical option for me. I’m going to keep buying eggs at the grocery store for a while — at least as long as I have a landlord who would lay an egg of his own if I suggested the idea of keeping a layer or two around. There are thousands of examples of points in our lives when time and other concerns make the effort to save a few dollars entirely impractical. Do-it-yourself doesn’t always make sense, I’m afraid.

    There are lots ways we put value on our time: there’s time we could use to earn money, to spend with our families or to devote ourselves to a hobby. And, yes, we can often save money or make a dollar stretch further by doing certain tasks ourselves. But we must balance between the value of the dollar we might not want to spend on an already-made shirt and the hour we might spend making one. Productivity and personal finance have to go hand in hand — what sense does a budget make if you don’t know how much time you have to spend on both earning money and how much you can spend on tasks that might save you money. As you start planning next month’s budget, it’s worth pulling out the calendar and thinking hard about just how much time you have available in with to do things yourself.

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    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    No!

    It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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    But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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    What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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    But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

    1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
    2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
    3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
    4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
    5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
    6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
    7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
    8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
    9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
    10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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