How I solved the more money vs. more time conundrum

close up photo of hourglass and american paper bills

My more time vs. more money equation has always looked like this:

Time > Money

As a creative, I need time to think, absorb, and formulate my ideas.

When I spend the majority of my time earning money, I run out of valuable time to bring my ideas to life.

This sets up a frustrating, seemingly endless search for balance.

However, with some careful planning, I have found some great ways to solve the more money vs. more time conundrum.

Here are some suggested solutions.

  1. Use your expertise to earn more money in less time: You have spent years honing your craft, which allows you to charge a premium for your work. Take advantage of your expertise by teaching others your craft or building additional streams of income that allow you to set your own schedule. The likely outcome is that you can charge a much higher hourly rate than if you held a normal desk job, which in turn gives you more time for your creative pursuits.

  2. Follow the 2x Minimum Wage Rule: For work to make sense within a balanced career path, you need to be making above the established minimum wage in your area. I like the goal of making at least twice the amount of minimum wage so you can work for less time and make comparatively more money. Set a goal to make at least 2x the minimum wage from now on.

  3. Explore passive income: Passive income is income that is generated without you needing to invest an hour of your time. This is a foreign concept for many creatives, who rely on time spent on a task to receive payment for their work (i.e., sitting in a 2.5-hour rehearsal to receive payment for playing in an orchestra). The idea behind passive income is lovely: Create something, cast it out into the world, and it will support your livelihood for the rest of your life while you sit on the beach and watch the sunset. While this outcome is occasionally true, passive income takes a lot of work, especially up front. Passive income can be a wonderful way to supplement your income and if you create the right product, book, or online tool, you can generate income passively for years.

  4. Know the value of your time: Take time to research and learn about where you are right at this moment from a financial perspective and chart your income. I wrote this post to help, which includes a simple spreadsheet to help you think about and compare your various sources of income. I’d also encourage you to check out this podcast where I discuss the virtues of setting up a ten-year personal strategy.

I’m still trying to maximize the amount of time I have to create and I’d love to hear suggestions about how you have solved the more money vs. more time conundrum in the comments below.

Thanks for reading!

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Nate Zeisler is the Dean for Community Initiatives at the Colburn School in Los Angeles. He envisions a world where students majoring in the arts have a clear path to a sustainable career, where creative minds are empowered and inspired to rule the workforce, and where access to the arts is not just for the privileged few, but for all.

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