Time isn’t Money; Value is

Why Watching All 10 Seasons of Friends is Killing Your Competitive Advantage as a Student

Imagine that you’re a paper producer. Your goal is to make tons and tons of paper. And good news, you own a tree farm with hundreds of acres of trees — just the right kind for grinding down into pulp and converting into paper.

Now imagine that instead of grinding the trees into a pulp and making paper, you cut them down into lumber and make them furniture instead. Despite having all the right tools to make paper, you end up choosing to convert your trees into something completely different.

Time isn’t money.

Trees aren’t paper and time isn’t money. Each is an essential ingredient that can be converted into the desired end product. However, time can easily be converted into watching Netflix, for example, which is making furniture instead of paper.

Though you haven’t been gifted with acres of trees, you have been gifted with four (or five) years of college. This can lead to money, if you choose to use it well.

Not all time gives equal value.

An easy way to convert time into money is to get a job. Duh. But depending on the job, that may be a bad idea if doesn’t have much value. Not all energy spent is equal. For example, one hour working at McDonalds will earn you $7.25, where as one hour working at a high-end grocery store might earn you $8.00. On a larger scale, years of working retail returns thousands of dollars. Years of working on launching a new website makes you Mark Zuckerberg. In theory, you could actually invest more energy into your retail job and see far less return than Mark. It’s a classic case of work-smarter-not-harder.

So, invest your time in what gives the most value.

Working smarter for a college student means taking full advantage of your one competitive advantage — freedom to invest your time well. There are very, very few things that a college student MUST to do, other that go to class. You may be busy, but you aren’t busy like a recently-married 27 year-old with a kid and promotion on the line. You may be poor, but you don’t need money the same way a 40 year-old with a mortgage and a family needs money. It’s not that you have any more more time; it’s that you have more free time. You have fewer obligations filling your 24 hours — freeing you to invest in what really matters. You get to use your time to gain value, which ultimately leads to money (and hopefully a more fulfilling/relevant career). Or in other words, you can use your trees to make pulp, which leads to paper.

There are always exceptions, but the majority of college students spend their hours investing in jobs they don’t need, re-watching season 3 of “Friends”, or going out drinking with friends. Again, none of those are inherently bad things, but they won’t give you long-term value in a monetary sense.

There are ~18 million other students currently working towards the same piece of paper that you are. Not only will you be competing with other graduates when you apply for your first job, you will also be competing with 35 year-olds who have a decade’s worth of experiences on top of their degrees.

Spend your time well. That’s the secret. It’s not enough to have lots of time; it matters what you invest it in.

If you’re a designer, collaborate with a businessman and launch a clothing line. If you’re an accountant, kick-start your business by doing some free work for local painters. If you’re a make-up artist, find a photographer and create a photoshoot together. If you’re a filmmaker, make a Kickstarter for your latest documentary idea and get it funded. If you’re a musician, make an EP already. If you’re a student (you are), get an internship. And if you’re a web developer, launch a Facebook.

Your time doesn’t have to make you any money (though it may), it just has to give you value. After all, value is money.

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