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Investing in time pays dividends

Time is our most valuable and finite resource. But often in this age of buzzing devices and communication overload we can feel like we just don’t have enough of it. Like a hamster running around a wheel, we end up feeling simultaneously burnt out while going nowhere.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Time, like money, performs best when we invest it wisely. So it makes sense that understanding the principals of time investment could leave you with more hours in the day to pursue the things you love.

Embrace an investment strategy

They key to getting results in any area of your life is to make sure you have a strategy. The same goes for how you invest your time.

The first step is be clear about your goals. Think about what you’re working towards and how much time you’ll need to commit to them.

Once you have an estimation of the hours you’ll need, see how you can reorganise your time budget to fit things in. If your time budget is stretched, it might mean you need to delegate certain tasks to others. This could mean different things to different people. At work it may mean delegating administrative tasks to leave you more time to focus on strategy. On the home front, it could mean getting a hand with the gardening or lawn mowing, hiring a cleaner, or having groceries delivered to your door.

Pay yourself first

Often when planning out the week, the temptation is to leave the activities we find meaningful until last, hoping to pursue them in whatever time remains after more urgent responsibilities are attended to. The problem with this strategy is, inevitably all those other tasks take longer than expected, leaving no time for what makes you happy.

The solution to this problem is to pay yourself first. If something really means a lot to you, put it on the top of your priority list and do it first thing in the morning when you’re feeling fresh and alert. Starting your day with something you love will leave a psychological afterglow that may make you more efficient with the rest of your tasks anyway.

Diversification is key

Any good investment strategy should straddle a diverse range of asset classes, the same applies for time. If you become too fixated on one activity, you’ll end up burnt out and bored. But if you fill each day with a mixture of activities and break them up accordingly, you’ll feel invigorated and fulfilled.

The other trick here is to know when to pursue what. Creative tasks may benefit from the energy of mornings, while administrative ones are sometimes easier in the afternoon when your mind has slowed down a bit and you’re not jumping from thought to thought.

Compounding growth?

Though none of us are getting any younger, it is fair to say that time well invested delivers compounding returns over the long term. Think about any new task or hobby you take on like learning a language or an instrument. At first, it’s exceptionally difficult, and the return in terms of happiness or fulfilment is low. But the more you practice, the better you get, and the return gets higher and higher as time goes on.

The same goes for upskilling for work. The extra study hours may at first seem a turn off, but the reward that is career longevity, salary or status shift may be worth it. Similarly, exercising and healthy eating take time out of our days, but the ensuing wellbeing compounds over the years, building a buffer against disease and the deteriorating effects of age.

How you invest your time can have a significant impact on the value you take from each day. So if you’re looking for compounding returns this year, it might be worth taking your schedule off auto pilot and working out a time investment strategy that works for you.


This article is general in nature. Before making any financial or investment decisions, we recommend you consult a financial planner to take into account your particular investment objectives, financial situation and individual needs. Principal Wealth Management Pty Ltd trading as BMO Financial Solutions ABN 53 109 336 601 is a Corporate Authorised Representative of McPherson & Associates Pty Ltd Australian Financial Services Licence (AFSL) 229883. McPherson & Associates Pty Ltd and its Authorised Representatives do not accept any liability for any errors or omissions of information supplied in this article.

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Jemma Brown

About the author

Jemma Brown joined the BMO Financial Solutions team at BMO at the beginning of 2013 as a Paraplanner. Originally from Zimbabwe, Jemma went to James Nash High School at Gympie, excelling in economics and statistics.  She returned to Africa and gained valuable experience in the financial planning industry by undertaking an internship at Imara - a leading African Asset Management and Investment READ MORE

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