Put Your Own Value on Your Time

I’ve always been one of those people who puts a lot of effort into school work. I’m generally good at it and I can tell from the start how long a project will take. This has been useful as I slowly work my way through my master’s program — I take one class each semester in addition to freelancing full-time, so being able to shoe-horn papers and other projects into my work schedule is necessary. Last week, though, I intentionally half-assed a project.

I knew that the project, if I did it correctly, would take me five hours. I could have probably come up with the full five hours. But the approach I took got it done in under three hours. I made the choice because of the value I place on my time. I valued the time I could put into getting the Creativity Toolbox ready to launch far more than a single assignment. I valued the time I spent on projects for my clients more, as well. I even valued the time I spent canning tomatoes — you can when the tomatoes are ripe, because they don’t stay ripe.

Making Sure You Value Your Own Time

It’s easy to let other people put a value on your time. By giving me a five-hour assignment my professor certainly did, as did the university when they laid out the per-credit-hour price of taking a class. Heck, every employer out there has placed a dollar value on the time of their employees. But the actual value of your time can’t be external. Rather, you have to come to a conclusion about how you value your own time, rather than just relying on all those folks who will take advantage of your time given the opportunity.

The value you place on your time doesn’t have to be financial, a fact many of us forget. Canning tomatoes isn’t the most efficient way to spend my time, after all. If it was simply a matter of money, I’d go work on client work, and pay for a couple of cans from the supermarket. But for various reasons, I do value the time I put in in preserving food. I can with one of my best friends and we have a good time doing so. I also value knowing exactly where my food comes from and am willing to invest time in that priority, which also explains why I garden.

Understanding the Values Others Expect

So I didn’t value the assignment my professor wanted me to complete. I did a generally bad job on it and while I won’t have a zero in the grade book, my score will reflect my choice. I knew that before I made my choice and, while it let me consider a little more about the choice I was making, it didn’t ultimately change my mind. But there are always consequences for how we value our time and it’s important to consider those consequences before making a decision either way.

Valuing anything over a job or work for a client can, for instance, have the consequence that we don’t get paid. That’s a pretty serious consequence and is good enough to keep us at work most days. But letting your job take priority over everything else can have a big impact as well: you might not ever get to see your family, do anything fun or otherwise see the world outside your office.

How do you value your time?

Image by Flickr user Mohd Shazni

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2 Responses to “ Put Your Own Value on Your Time ”

  1. Travis says:

    To me, these two sentences are the heart of your post:

    “The actual value of your time can’t be external. Rather, you have to come to a conclusion about how you value your own time.”

    This was a recent breakthrough for me, and it’s still a tough thing to get my head around that WE choose the value of things. This is much more apparent when you work as a freelancer- as we both do- but it’s part of living an effective life. Sometimes, we can the tomatoes. Other times, we pay somebody to can those tomatoes (or don’t bother canning at all) so we can finish that big book project.

    It’s a constant process of getting clear on what matters; one that most people never both with. But it pays.

    Great post!

  2. Ali Hale says:

    I really like this post. I think that lots of us (overgeneralisation — but women especially) get very hung up on doing what we “should”, particularly when it comes to school work.

    I loved doing my MA, but I stopped once I felt I’d got what *I* wanted out of each assignment. My (one and only) essay was dashed off in a bit of a hurry and was nothing like as academically rigorous as stuff I did for my BA. I didn’t agonise forever over the chapters of my novel I handed in for my final piece — getting married was more of a priority.

    I’m slooowly learning that I don’t have to be the kid who worked hard just to please her teachers. I find that getting clear about what *I* want from something is key: then I know when to stop.

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