Time is money. Or can it be happiness?

One of my fields of expertise is luxury hospitality.

And a key concept in there is time, for instance the fact affluent people are also time-poor, which can have various consequences, from the demand of good travel advisors to the length of their stay, from wanting to pack more and varied experiences into a single holiday to the growth of bleisure trips.

So we can say luxury also means time. Which is maybe our most precious resource.

But if time is money, can money buy us more time to be happy?

Or subtract negative time from our days. Buy us positive experiences.

Instead of having more time to make more money, in an endless stressing circle.

Ashley Whillans, assistant professor at Harvard Business School discusses her research on time-money trade-offs in a podcast and in the “Time for happiness” article.

Time poverty affects us all, in every trade, economic condition and also life stage. With consequences such as stress, anxiety, depression, loss of productivity (instead of the opposite), obesity, strains on our personal life and relationships.

The key idea would then be to make choices based on time, not money.

Here is some very interesting food for thought Ashley and her team put up for our consideration:

> Using time-saving services [and digital technologies, I might add] (so using money) to get more free time and really enjoy it.

> Using time to make more meaningful interactions with those we love.

> Saving time for the future, but also saving time to enjoy for ourselves.

> Focussing on what time is going to get us versus what other people might think of us.

As a freelancer, I can relate very well to the time-money-happiness circle.

Freelancing is often thought of as a liberating career choice, while in fact, many times, you end up working more hours than you’d do in a 9-to-5 job.

Why? Because you can rely only on yourself and in your mind the equation “if you don’t work, you don’t earn” is always very much in the foreground. An attitude which, especially in your first years, may generate burn out and unhealthy business practices, such as working late or on weekends, or working with late payers.

On my personal journey, I have learned to say many no’s — to things, persons or situations which I’ve come to recognize don’t work for me —, I’m trying to keep my fees consistently in the medium-high range (through experience, CPD, niche specialization, particular search for customers matching my know-how) with the goal of working a bit less, earning the same and collaborating on challenging projects with interesting (for me) clients.

A big part or my resolutions (even though I don’t like the word) for the year(s) to come is finding out and concentrating on what really makes me happy — both professionally and personally — and finding time for it. Making flexibility more central in my work schedule. And spending more time experiencing awe, as suggested in the article.

Which will not be easy, as in the end we’re all very much conditioned by acquired behaviour, and social judgement. As well as by  the “future time slack” syndrome, believing in the future we will have more time than now.

So can time be the true currency of the future? And should we learn to manage it as we do with money?


About the author
I am an Italian specialist in translation and proofediting, working in the marketing, creative and legal fields. I put my many years of experience to the advantage of my clients by creating texts resonating with the Italian-speaking audience and making brands locally relevant. Connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter or visit my website.