The time-cost of absolutely everything

In 2011, Cillian Murphy starred in a futuristic movie called In Time that depicted a world where the only currency was time itself. Everybody was granted 25 years when they were born and when 25 years was up, poof! that was it,

It spawned a whole black market where people sought ways to steal time from others and sell it to the highest bidder, you get the picture – good guys, baddies, car chases, tension.

One of the elements of this movie that intrigued me was the fact that it is scarily closer to the truth of how things actually are than most of us would like to believe. Allow me explain.

Good news about time: Time is infinite. Bad news about time: YOUR time (and mine) is not! Time for you and me is FINITE!

You and I are alive. We have been granted x amount of time on planet earth. When it is up, it is up, and someday (hopefully a long way away) it will be done and, poof! that will be that (today, my piece is not a discussion on an afterlife).

According to Wikipedia, the average life expectancy globally is circa 71 years.

“Worldwide, the average life expectancy at birth was 71.0 years (68 years and 6 months for males and 73 years and 6 months for females) over the period 2010–2013 according to United Nations World Population Prospects 2012 Revision”*

Ireland, where I live is ranked 19th in the world and it would appear we fare better than most, adding 10.4 years to the average – 81.4 for us as a nation, thank you very much, with the ladies enjoying 83.4 years with us fellas trailing in behind at at 79.4 years.

That’s it. It’s FINITE!

And so it struck me that there is a time cost to absolutely everything.

Everything takes time. Doing nothing takes time, Writing this takes time, reading this takes time (and I appreciate your taking your time and allowing me be part of it), arguing takes time, laughing takes time, going to the theatre takes time, eating, exercising, sleeping, making love, all take time.

And my question to you is, what are you doing with your time?

Let’s talk about the fiscal value of time for a moment?

Rather than splitting hairs on this I am going to use a fictitious employee arbitrarily taking home (after taxes) €24,000 from a full-time job, €2,000 per month. Her outgoings are thus:

  • Rent and bills: €1,000
  • Food: €400
  • Car payments: €200
  • School costs: €100
  • Credit card debt €100
  • Holiday fund €100
  • Entertainment €100

With a takehome paycheck of €2,000 per month and on the basis that she works 40 hours per week to earn her crust, she netts €12.50 per hour, therefore we can calculate the time cost of absolutely everything. Let’s look at that list again?

  • Rent and bills: €1,000 costs her 80 hours or TWO FULL WEEKS
  • Food: €400 costs her 32 hours or 4 full days
  • Car payments: €200, 16 hours, 2 days
  • School costs: €100 costs our friend 8 hours, one full day
  • Credit card debt €100 costs 8 hours, one full day
  • Holiday fund €100, 8 hours, one full day
  • Entertainment €100, again 8 hours, one full day

A coffee for €3.00 costs 14 minutes…

A pint for €5.00 costs 24 minutes…

A hair do for €50 is 4 hours…

The other challenge with time being finite is that (unlike in Mr Murphy’s movie) it is irreplaceable. Once it is spent, it is spent, and gone forever, never to be recaptured and so the question I am posing to myself as much as to you is what are we spending our time on?

How much time, based on the averages do you have left? What are you spending your precious time on now? Is it what you want to be spending it on? If not, what way do you want your life to look a year from now? What changes do you want, perhaps need, to make?

I’ll finish by quoting the poet Mary Oliver who asks “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”



MORE: If you enjoyed that and would like to read/watch last week’s Blog/Vlog on Leverage (one way to get more out of your time) – click here.

FREE AUDIO BOOK: If would like a complimentary copy of the ‘Feeding Johnny – How to Build a Business Despite the Roadblocks’ in audio, narrated by yours truly so you get all the nuances, feel free to grab one here.

STAY CONNECTED: If this is your thing, consider joining in the conversation here.

Thanks for thinking with me.

Yours truly,


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2 Responses to “The time-cost of absolutely everything”
  1. Glenn Pearson

    Hi Colm,

    Thank you for this great article. You are spot on. When you put in this prospective it is a wake-up call. I am in the process of making huge changes… this article has made it me realize the importance of life, and what is left I must cherish and improve apon.
    Cheers G

  2. Colm

    Thanks Glenn

    It applies to us all I’m afraid. We should take stock a little more often.

    Stay in touch.


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