“The most powerful force in the universe is compound interest”
This is not an article about money or math, it’s about something much more powerful. But first a pop quiz: What is compound interest? Don’t worry if you don’t know, the concept behind compound interest is simple- you take some money invest it, during the process your investment earns interest and also interest on the interest. Before you know it you have much more than you started with. For example, if you start with $100 and earn 10% interest you’re quick math would say you’d get $10 after the first year. The second year you don’t just earn $10, you earn $11. The $10 you expect plus $1 on the $10 of interest from last year. Each year that’s more and more. So instead of your $100 doubling in 10 years as quick math would tell you ($10 for each of 10 years) you double in 7.2 years! The longer you allow for this phenomena, the more you earn. After 20 years, the return wouldn’t be $200 extra, it would be more than $600 extra!
Math lesson is over, now let’s take this compounding process and apply it to a more valuable asset you have: Time! Time for your family, time for your career, time for yourself. They key is to make your time more valuable and remove items that are just taking your time. Invest in yourself. Here’s five ways to compound time:
Investing in learning time is crucial. Sometimes learning simple techniques can end up saving you a lot of time in the long run. For example you can earn how to type faster or the more advanced features of your word processor. An initial investment of time saves you time daily. With more time daily you can spend it on crafting better documents which in turn leads to more powerful presentations which minimizes rework etc. Just learn.
Invest a small amount of time to get a machine/computer to do your job for you. This is why I love computers. They have the potential to do exactly what you need, you just have to tell it in the right way. It may require a special program, a special setup, a macro or even some programming, but if you find the right command, your computer will do your work for you without complaint.
You don’t have to do everything yourself. Get rid of the easy tasks so someone else does it for you. Need someone to do your errands, help with cleaning or repairs? Try TaskRabbit.com. Need someone to do some of your chauffeuring- try Uber. Need someone to do payroll? Try a company like ADP then all you need to do is spend a couple of minutes sending them your data and they take care of the rest. If there’s any kind of task you need there’s almost certainly someone who is offering that service online. This will cost some money, but if you can directly use that time to make more money by putting in extra hours at the office or free lancing you can profit from the difference and/or save time.
Some tasks are too complex or personalized to outsource- instead you can insource it (delegate). Train someone to do your job inside your organization or family- a few minutes of training or direction can give you huge dividends in the long term. Sometimes, just asking is all you need to do and they may be glad to help out. Other times a barter can have a large impact. For example, your computer knowledgeable friend can write a macro for you and you can arrange everything for the party she’s hosting.
When there is a system to your actions it makes it much easier to succeed. This is potentially the most powerful but overlooked technique. Think about a recipe- it tells you exactly what you need to do. For projects that you create look into making it systematic. It takes away complexity and limits the risk of problems (problems take up a lot of time). This will allow you to outsource parts of it and speed up subsequent runs.
To get the most value for your time combine these techniques and get yourself organized. I recommend the book “Getting Things Done” by David Allen. If you don’t have time for the full book yet, be sure to read 3 techniques to get started (http://magnacare.typepad.com/blog/2014/04/3-simple-steps-to-help-you-get-er-done.html). You can start small but keep investing.
There is so much value to your time, don’t waste it. Invest in yourself.