Monday, November 21, 2011

Time as a criteria for purchases

Last year I received a bonus from work and discussed with my friend Gene the things I was thinking about spending it on. He suggested getting a handheld game console, as a way to get back into gaming, which we both used to enjoy. He saw it as a way for him to use his down time waiting for planes, waiting for his partner when going out, and so forth.

It sounded really fun, and I was heading down the path of getting one when I realized that I had none of the kinds of downtime that Gene had. I have no time that isn't used for something.

It made me realize that if I was thinking about bringing anything new into my life, then its impact on time would need to be the primary criteria. If I brought in anything new, it would either need to have a 1 to 1 replacement of time spent on something else, or it would actually need to save me time. But it couldn't require me to find new time, because there just isn't any. (Three children under age four, full time work, attachment get the picture.)

Enjoyment or satisfaction, traditional criteria for a purchase would have to be secondary to time. If something had immense enjoyment but required me to find time for it, then I wouldn't actually get to use it, and so I would never realize the enjoyment benefits of it.

A handheld gaming console might be fun, but since it would take time I don't have, there's no point. An MP3 player might be fun, and it would simply replace time I already spend listening to the radio, so it's a better decision. (Although there is some up front time cost to organizing mp3s, playlists, etc.) I haven't been able to find any good examples of something you can buy that brings you enjoyment and saves you time. But if you have any ideas, let me know, because half a year later, my bonus is still sitting waiting for me to spend it. It turns out that this time criteria is a pretty strict filter, because I still haven't bought anything.

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