How Much of Free Costs You Time?

How much of free costs you time? 

You’d be amazed!  Or maybe not –

Take the internet for instance – tons of free information online – millions and millions of pieces of information – how much is valuable?  To whom?  For what purpose?  At what cost in time?

Some is very useful but we need to wade through a ton of words before the “nuggets” appear – it’s like panning for gold.  Some information  is exactly what we need, and we feel very lucky when we find it – it’s like winning a  lottery.  And some is simply not worth the time and effort to get to the site where the page sits – for one point – good or bad – 10 pages are written where one paragraph would have sufficed!  We know where it comes from – at university, we’re taught to write a lot of pages where a few would suffice.  When that’s translated into real life, we end up having to spend a lot of time writing about little and reading a lot about little.

It’s free though!   

Imagine the cost in time – the cost of a non-renewable resource!

Some people say: pay for it.  That doesn’t solve the problem either.  You’ll find that everywhere you look whether on the internet or not, a person can pay a lot of money for garbage too and, often, the money is not returned.  They say they will give you your money back but you actually ask for the money, they have all kinds of “fine print” excuses or they just ignore you.  In this case, it costs the time to make the money PLUS the time to wade through this material PLUS the lost opportunity costs PLUS the money!  Big, big price to pay for paying!

Is there a solution?  Only partial solutions but no ideal solution – at least, I haven’t found any – it’s like dating – a person has to date a lot of people before finding the “right one”.  Here are some possible alternatives:

  • One, is to ask others.  Sometimes other people do know where to find quality information, however, “quality” can be subjective – what one person is seeking is not necessarily what the other person is looking for and, thus, the term “quality” is different to each person.  It’s worth a try because all you have to do is ask and have a look.
  • Another is to look towards publications which are respected for content.  Some of these publications, at one time, did have very good researchers and writers, but, I’m sure many of you have noticed how little substance is contained in many articles today even in what used to be highly respected publications.  There are still some, however, which have maintained high standards for content, facts, and well supported arguments and opinions.  One good publication in a particular field can lead to many other good resources.
  • A third is to take the time to research multitude numbers of sites.  Search until you find two or three good quality sources of information and then follow links referenced by those sources.  Of course, this is the most time consuming way to go about finding just what you’re looking for.

Of these three, the second one works the best because, often, quality begets quality.   Thus, you save a lot of time by not having to wade through a multitude of sites and pages.  There are usually links to other good material.   The references may provide a different slant and additional data or resources.

And, next time, you see “free” on anything, read just a few opening paragraphs – you’ll eventually learn to recognize quite quickly whether the information is substantive or not – experience is an excellent teacher!  You’ll eventually be quite amazed how awareness of your time translates into positive, time saving discernment.

And ask yourself:  How much of free is costing me time?  Am I willing to pay that price?



Lorraine Arams

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