You have, no doubt, heard the phrase "the time value of
money". It means that a dollar in your hand today is worth
more than a dollar in your hand a year from now. Why?
Because of what you can do with that dollar over the next
year. You can invest that dollar in an interest bearing
account and have $1.05 at the end of the year. If you
decide to take your buck in a year, your opportunity cost
(foregone investment) will be five cents. Not to mention
what inflation will have done to your purchasing power in
As interesting as the time value of money is to economists
and financial planners, if you're anything like me, you
probably find the whole subject just a little short of riveting.
So here's something more interesting to think about. The
money value of time. Your time, that is.
Why do you need to think about the money value of time?
Because, quite simply, once you truly understand what your
time is worth, in dollar terms, you will work your business
more productively and efficiently than ever before.
In my other life, I'm an attorney. I work for a downtown
Los Angeles law firm and, like any other law firm, what
counts is how many billable hours I clock each month.
We have software to track it all for us of course. My
time is charged out at $250 an hour. In a minimum of
six minute increments. This means that if I so much as
pick up and read a one paragraph letter from another
attorney, my client is billed $25.
Spend enough time tracking your time like this, getting
to the end of the day and needing to see at least seven
billable hours totaled on your computer screen and you
soon develop a very healthy respect for the dollar value
And because I don't want to have to be at the office for
ten hours before I've generated seven that are billable,
let me assure you I work very efficiently indeed.
In the process, I've become an expert at avoiding time
wasters and unproductive activities. As a result I can
usually generate seven billable hours from being in the
office for only eight. (The other hour is unavoidable
non-billable general admin type stuff.)
My point? Start thinking like an attorney when it comes
to how you value and spend your time. Here's how.
First, decide what level of income you need from your
business. For the purposes of our example, let's say
it's $52,000 per year or $1,000 per week.
Next, decide how many hours you want to work each
week. To keep the math simple, let's say you're going to
work 50 hours a week. Therefore, on average, you need
to generate $20 for every hour of time you spend working
in your business.
But not all of your time will be revenue-generating (i.e.,
"billable") time. Any business has its share of non-billable
time - those routine administrative tasks that must be
done even though they make no contribution to your
So, now you have a choice. You can either work more
hours each week to cover your non-billable time, or you
can increase the amount you need to earn from every
billable hour. The first option means working longer. The
second option means working smarter. Your choice.
Whatever you decide, keep that hourly rate firmly in
mind. Every hour of your time is worth $20 (or whatever
rate you have calculated for yourself).
Think about that when the phone rings on a work day and
it's your sister wanting you to go with her to mall this
afternoon. There's three hours or $60 you've just thrown
away (not to mention what you spend at the mall!). Tell
her you'll go with her on Saturday instead. You have to
work today. Think twice about the hour and a half it will
take you to do your errands this afternoon. Another $30
gone. Do them on your own time, not your business's.
Think $30 here or there won't make any difference? Think
about this. Do it twice a week and you've just lost over
$3,000 for the year in potential business. And when you
consider that some of that $3,000 in business would have
become repeat business, you're cheating your business
out of some serious income.
Apply the same thought process to when you actually
ARE working also. What's the better use of your time --
writing an article for this week's issue of your ezine which
will hopefully be picked up by other sites and publishers,
thereby providing you with valuable free publicity -- or
stopping what you're doing every ten minutes each time
you get new email? And reading it.
Remember: the hour or two you spend writing your
article needs to return the equivalent of $40 in income.
Writing articles is the equivalent of free advertising.
You can *easily* generate at *least* $40 in income
with that sort of no-cost publicity. My articles published
on other websites and in other ezines bring me hundreds
of new visitors each week. All for about two hours worth
of work on my part. No amount of time spent reading
email will ever do that.
Contrast how much income you generate by reading non-
business-related email during working hours. Zero. It
makes absolutely no contribution to your bottom line. So,
don't do it when you're working. Do it on your own time.
By having your "hourly rate" uppermost in mind at all
times, you can always decide what's the best use of
your time. Quite simply, it's whatever alternative will make
a direct contribution to your bottom line.
Now, obviously, no-one's going to step forward and hand
you $20 every time you complete an hour's work. You're
not someone else's employee - you're running your own
Some weeks you'll put in 50 hours but will only receive
$100 that week. Or less. But other weeks, you'll put in
the same number of hours and bank $1,500. It's swings
It's a good idea to review your expenditure of time against
revenue generated on a monthly or bi-monthly basis to get
an accurate picture of how you're tracking.
The point is to know what your time is worth so you can
ensure you're getting the maximum return on your
investment that you possibly can.
It will also help you to determine when the all-important
big step of hiring employees is the most cost-effective
thing to do. If you can generate more income from each
hour if you are free to devote your time to business
development activities than it will cost you to pay an
employee to take over the routine, administrative tasks
that are currently sucking up all your time, you should
hire the employee. If you don't know what your time
is worth though, how will you ever know when that time
So, next time you're not feeling particularly motivated
to write that article and think you'll maybe just go read
the newspaper for an hour or so instead, consider this.
Would you rather spend $20 to read the newspaper at
11:15 on a Tuesday morning or would you rather read
it for free at 7:30?
Time is money and money is time. Spend them wisely.
Elena Fawkner is editor of A Home-Based Business Online ...
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Tuesday, 20-Apr-2021 14:45:03 CDT