How Much Is Your Time Worth?

What is the value of your time? In this action step we will see how to use visualization to help us guide our activities, when appropriate, by assigning and recognizing their value in monetary terms.

The next time some asks you, “What is your time worth?” you may have a different answer.

Discovering the Value of Your Time

Some years ago when a “back to the land” movement was popular in this country I read a book about modern day homesteading that included quite a few rather interesting concepts. One had to do with learning how to value various forms of work.

The author had made a list of his various chores such as gardening or chopping wood for the stove and then calculated a value of each activity in terms of dollars per hour. While some of these paid as little as 50 cents an hour by his calculation, one (picking some kind of greens that grew wild in a ditch along the road and which he sold to a local restaurant) paid about $40.00 per hour.

Now in his case he didn’t want to spend all his time doing the highest paying job because his whole goal was to live a self-reliant lifestyle, but he thought it worthwhile to ask himself the question, “What is the value of your time doing each work activity?” He found it was a profitable question to ask.

Self Employment: the Value of Your Time

Especially when we operate our own business (something I recommend on some scale for most people who want to succeed financially), it is an extremely valuable idea to become aware of the monetary value of our various activities.

If you do have a business of any kind, no matter how small or large, you will have less trouble with this idea. Some activities are effectively useless while others are highly productive.


I used to do a lot of public speaking. People paid me for the time I was speaking but in calculating my compensation I added in the time for preparation and promotion. It was easy to see that time I spent planning (arranging for engagements, etc.) and time speaking were worth a lot more than time spent arranging the contents of my briefcase!

Not to get too philosophical, let me make the point here that in reality the value of your time is nothing. The only real value of your time is the value of the work you get done in that time!

Employee Perspective: the Value of Time

Even if not a business owner, it is useful to look at your work related activities and think about their value to you in terms of earning power.

One employer I met educated his employees about this when they received orientation. He would point out different workers and comment on how much he paid for workers with their skills, offering to pay the new employee the same if they could show him they could do the same work!

As an employee, think long term about the value you can contribute to the business by your activities. I know one employee who has arranged to get higher pay from his employer for part of his work by getting training for a specialized “part time job” with irregular hours at the same place he worked regularly at a lower paying job.

Visualize the Dollar Value of Your Time

Perhaps you, too, will want to make a visual chart as this homesteader did, listing a number of your primary activities with an estimated hourly value beside each one. Post it where you can see it from time to time.

This simple technique could generate the motivation needed to assign more time to those projects that will produce the most results. If you have a chart that suggests one activity produces $25.00 in value to you in the same time another produces only $5.00, it isn’t hard to see how that might shape your choice of what to do next.

Without identifying specific amounts of money you could make a similar chart with varying stacks of money for different activities in which you are engaged. This would be more useful where exact amounts of money are hard to identify. The goal is to focus your attention on the activities you want to commit your time to.

Most of my work is like that—I cannot put a precise dollar amount on most of my activities but I know that writing is more valuable than sorting email and that marketing is more valuable than cleaning the office.

Most people squander a lot of time. Using a tool like this can be a good technique to help us focus on doing more productive work, the kind of activities that produce the most income.

Determine the Value of Your Time

This action step may not be for everyone. It may be more difficult for you to isolate the value of your time except in a general way. But it can be quite informative for you to at least ask yourself how much your time is worth and think about the implications that your observations have for activity choices.