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Investing Time vs. Spending Time (tynan.com)
62 points by bradly on Dec 24, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 9 comments



I'm having hard time wrapping my head around the time-money analogy here. In the case of money, by investing it or delaying spending, you can have more of it in future. In the case of time this does not hold, because time is essentially a shrinking resource. You can't have more time in future by delaying spending or 'investing' it in the manner OP suggests.

Return on time, (ROT?), is always something other than time and thus measures of it are highly subjective. In the end, what you are spending is your life and although there might be preferable ways of doing it, I'd imagine that being the achievers they are, HN members usually err on the side of investing it. Actually PG's essay offers a nice exposition of spending time (having fun) vs investing it vs fake work:

http://www.paulgraham.com/selfindulgence.html


Seems to me you can spend time now to save more time later. That isn't the only reason that time is 'invested', but neither are future financial returns the only reason people invest money.

And that's leaving aside entirely the idea that time == money (ie. you can often substitute one for the other, or invest one to later gain the other).


> Return on time, (ROT?), is always something other than time

Unless you are doing something to prolong your life (eating healthy, working on an anti-aging cure etc). I don't think the analogy is that bad.


Good way to put your thoughts across. I like the analogy and comparison of time with money. I feel time is sometimes more valuable of a resource than money and need to be invested wisely. What most people do is they spend time (also for money) in short term gains vs focussing and investing on long term gains (same goes for money).


At the end, his example for rebalancing our time portfolio: Despite the many positive outcomes of practicing pickup artistry, he'll actually sometimes recommend giving it up if it hasn't produced the long term returns you expected!


This applies to startups as well. You have a very limited man-hours. How you spend it matters a lot. Do you improve the product a little bit every day?

Investing time understanding users or improving your tools makes a big difference in the long term. When you understand your users you can work on the right features. When you sharpen your tools you spend less time wasting time with repeat tasks. For example, how long it takes to release a new version of your product matters a lot. Automated testing for most common problems makes you move faster.

In general, the best way to invest your time is to automate repetitive tasks.


Interesting analogy, check out my post here talking also about time as an investment as pertains to overtime at work. http://deliberate-software.com/501-developer/


See also PG's essay on a similar theme:

http://www.paulgraham.com/selfindulgence.html


Hey, thanks a lot for linking this-- very much appreciated.




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