How much is an hour worth to you?
Whether you’re calculating your time by how much you earn per hour or how much of your day you’re using up, it’s to your advantage to know exactly what your time is worth so that you can both budget and spend it appropriately.
As Romi Neustadt, author of You Can Have It All, Just Not at the Same Damn Time, explains in MarketWatch:
Let’s say your hourly worth is $300. The 10 minutes you might spend scrolling through Facebook to take a mental break from a particularly taxing project? That’s 50 bucks, which you might consider it a worthwhile escape.
But 45 minutes of getting lost down the scroll hole without even realising where the time has gone? That’s $225 down the toilet. If one of your priorities is living in vibrant health, that time could’ve gone toward a yoga class, a run with a friend or a massage.
To be fair, it’s hard to squeeze a massage into 45 free minutes unless your home or workplace is already very close to a massage studio (same goes for taking a run with a friend, unless you’re already near a gym or running trail and you both have the same 45 minutes free). There are reasons we “scroll hole,” as Neustadt puts it. Sometimes we just can’t think of anything better to do with our time.
But the argument Neustadt is making is that we should be trying to value our time a little more, not fritter it away thoughtlessly. She’s used the hourly worth metric to attach numbers to hours, but you could also use a percentage-based metric; if you spend 45 minutes scrolling social media, for example, you’ve used up 3% of the 1,440 minutes allotted to you every day.
Of course, once you factor in sleep, commuting, hygiene, meal prep, and so on, you might realise that you’re giving 37.5% of the two unscheduled hours you have each day to social media.
And that might be enough to make yourself re-budget your time.
Neustadt also suggests outsourcing tasks that cost less than your hourly worth to complete, and saying no to any new commitments that literally aren’t worth your time. Although not all of us will be able to put our financial resources towards outsourcing tasks like housecleaning or cooking—and even if we have the money, there are plenty of reasons why we may not want to—we can still ask ourselves whether we should accept the next time-consuming request that comes our way, or simply say no.
Because every hour is in fact valuable, and it’s our job to spend as many hours as possible living the kind of life we truly want.