Spend your time. SPEND your time?

I was talking to one of my very best friends recently. To save his blushes I’ve changed his name to a fairly random replacement. So now, having cleared that up I’ll start again.

I was talking to my friend Humphrey recently….

Quick bit of context, Humphrey works in technology, Humphrey is in fact a technology whizz, he’s got a first in mathematics from Oxford and a masters in computer science from UCL. He currently works for one of the big online retail businesses as a contract software tester, a “dev in test” to be specific. Now I’m not one to share too much information, and I don’t like to overshare what people say but Humphrey won’t mind.

Humphrey earns north of £500 per day, he’s been working in tech for 5 years. Part of the reason he earn so much is because he found himself in automated testing. People with the sort of technical skills that Humphrey has typically end up in engineering. If he worked in engineering he’d make (probably much) less than that, it’d because he’s an engineering grade tester that he’s so well paid.

Humphrey doesn’t enjoy his job at all, he’d much rather be an engineer, but he chooses to spend his time as a tester for one reason. How much he earns. Back to the chat…

….I had an interesting chat with Humphrey recently where he told me that he’d told his boss that he’d really rather go and work doing something else. His boss offered to up his rate by another £100 per day. A conversation followed between him and his boss where his boss said

“have you ever thought about the phrase ‘spend your time’?”

“huh?”

“have you ever thought about why people use the phrase ‘spend your time’?”

“not really, no”

And the conversation continued along this sort of line until Humphrey’s boss – should we give this character a name too? Seeing as it’s 78% likely that it was a man let’s imagine that Humphrey’s boss was a woman, called Gloria (sorry, tangent) - along this sort of line until Gloria said…

“what else do you spend?”

“money?”

“and what do you get when you do?”

You’re presumably starting to get a sense of what Gloria is like, but, BUT what an interesting chat!

In typical Arch-Graduates-Friday-blog-style that was the intro.

Spending your time, SPENDING it. What on earth? Have you ever stopped to think about that?

When you spend anything else you get something in return, right? It might only be a promise of something that never comes true or it might be to get some insurance on something that might go wrong, but you get something right?

And actually spending time is no different – that’s why we say ‘spending’.

The point that Gloria was making to Humphrey (weird how much I enjoy the made up names) was that Humphrey is spending his time to get money and she later went on to say, openly and honestly (and probably quite aggressively) that ‘this was a sensible thing to be doingvfor someone saving up for a deposit on a flat so grin and bear it’.

My friend Humphrey is 27 years old, he’s been working in an area of technology that he doesn’t enjoy for 5 years. He hasn’t really ever enjoyed his job, but he’s choosing to spend his time in order to earn cash. But Humphrey will never be 22, 23, 24, 25 or 26 again.

So has he got what he wants from these five years?

What if he was 27, had really enjoyed everything he’d done, but was starting to worry about his financial standing and couldn’t ever see himself paying off his student loan? Would he have spent his time in the right way then?

How are you ever supposed to know if you’re spending your time in the right way?

There two things I’d say to this.

Firstly, just by being aware that every day you have 24 hours that you can spend on something is a good start. It will help you to think about what’s important to you in a different way.

But secondly, being clear about what you want out of life on a longer term scale will help a lot. Having goals, having clear goals that you want to achieve in set time periods will be a big help. If you have these then when you are trying to decide how to spend your time then you can decide if your time spent will get you closer to your longer term goal or not.

This is exactly the conversation I ended up having with Humphrey and we sort of decided that the reason we were having this conversation was because he kind of hadn’t ever really had a life goal, which meant he sort of ended up in testing, and ended up staying there and then suddenly he’s having this conversation with Gloria, and then me.

He’s thinking about what he wants to do with his life (and while he’s thinking he’s making a small fortune….)

How will you spend your time this weekend?

'see' you next week.