Research: What Is Your Time Really Worth?

01 March 2017 | By Yogobe

Are you in a unstoppable spiral where the days run together? Is it difficult to find the time to live between job, commuting, pickup and leaving, leisure activities and the never-ending pile of laundry? Here we discuss the research on Downshifting – less working hours and consuming less, to get more time for other things.

Jörgen Larsson is time researcher at the sociological institute at Gothenburg University. He has done research on time constraints and families with young children. He is of the opinion that downshifting has had a great impact. But why? We make more money than before, does that not bring us more freedom?

– My research results show that ownership and consumption contributes to time constraints. The more you own, the worse it gets, Jörgen Larsson says to the Swedish TV channel SVT.

Jörgen Larsson shows in his research study “On parents' time pressure”  that the total amount of working hours for a mother and a father with young children has increased with 10 hours per week the last 30 years. This, together with increased consumption levels, is the cause for our growing time pressure. The problem with having enough time is the fourth most common discussion topic during the break at the office.

The research study conducted by Jörgen Larsson, included 1500 people and reveals that when we earn and spend more, we also feel more time pressure. Mothers’ working hours have increased and it has not led to any compensation of shorter working hours for the fathers, which creates less opportunity for us to manage all parts of life.

Do you own your things - or do they own you?
In regards to consumption, Jörgen Larsson mentions Ghandi who suggested that if we own more than 50 things, the things own us. Jörgen believes that we need question our own choices and priorities, which he himself has done. Because he knows how it is when you can't find the time to actually live. In his previous well-paid and stimulating job as a environment consult the tempo just became more intensive, the job took all the energy and there was nothing left for the family.

To change lifestyle is not an easy thing to do, and it requires willpower to say no to time-consuming activities. But persistency prevails. Larsson downshifted and now feels he can live more balanced life as well as more environmentally friendly.

It’s not only our own actions and notions that stand in the way of downshifting. According to Larsson's time research, less people are willing to work fewer hours if others don’t do it. There is a strong full-time norm in our society. It's all planned for you to work 40 hours per week. Only parents with young children are seen as having the right to work less – others are seen as different.

Question the norms and your own expectations
The study “On parents' time pressure” reveals the most important reason to downshift: personal development and your health. So how do we do it? Larsson suggests that we look over our expectations of what we have to do in our everyday life. And it’s good to question the norms! Find quick ways to do some of the things, sleep and exercise, ask for help from family and friends, and pay for certain services, and we increase the resources and energy to keep up with our expectations.

In his book ”Rik på riktigt” (Rich for real), Jörgen Larsson offers some tips on how we can think to have more time, connected to our consumption. Reflect over his questions below before you make your next purchase:

  • Why do I really need this? Which needs does it fill?
  • Is it worth the money? Which values do I get by buying this? More meaning? More love? Happiness? Peace? Will it give me more power in my daily life?
  • What could I do instead (something else I would like to do) for the money?
  • How many hours work does it actually cost?

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