$33. That’s how much I calculated an hour of my time being worth up until last year. I took my annual post-tax income and divided it by an estimate of how many hours I worked in a given year. Here’s what immediately happened:
- I became very conscious of when I was wasting my time. That’s not to say I spent less time on leisure but rather, that I was more conscious of when I was subconsciously procrastinating even if the work I was doing looked productive.
- I let go of my learned guilt that spending = bad and that any opportunity to save should be taken. For example, if a cab ride that cost $10 would have saved me 30 mins of commute (or $15 worth of time), taking that ride makes sense!
- I also became conscious of how others‘ affect the value of my time. If I had things got super busy at work and I found myself spending more and more time there, I was aware that my per hour value was implicitly dropping and I would either find ways to work more efficiently, place more boundaries around my work, or justify a higher raise.
This worked for years. It worked quite well as a way to reimagine how I was spending and investing my most important, non-renewable resource. However, using this measurement also implied that my time’s worth was correlated with its ability to produce income; I am my salary.
These days I am forced to either think of new ways of measuring my time or dispense with measurement entirely, given a large decrease in income but an increase in the things I actually want to put out in the world. I’m writing and cooking more now – a lot more – and on some days I wonder if I shouldn’t instead be using that time looking for higher paid work since not doing so means my time is “worth” less. But then I hear from friends who tell me how they’re applying the cooking concepts I’m putting out, from a food publication editor that my words have a place on their site, and I am aware of the space I am able to enter both at my desk and in my kitchen away from yet another sales report or powerpoint. That must be worth something right? Perhaps I’ll change my mind at the end of the month when rent is due.