How to Value Your Time

Knowing time’s value will help you decide how to use your time best.

Stever Robbins
5-minute read
Episode #394

Your Reputation Is Valuable

When figuring out what you’d pay for exposure, make sure to consider its effect on your reputation (also known as “personal brand” in this modern era of internet exploitation). There’s a reason Lady Gaga gets paid $100,000 to attend a party: her reputation gives the party higher status.

If you’re not Lady Gaga, however, it can work the other way: accepting free exposure can damage your brand. (If you are Lady Gaga, love your work! Are you free next Thursday for lunch? I’ve always wanted to try Caravan of Dreams in the East Village. You can wear your meat dress, I’ll wear my eggplant suit, and we can exchange tips on how to keep our clothing fresh in unseasonably warm weather.)

Accepting less than what you’re worth sets a precedent, so factor the reputation effects into how you value exposure.

Use Expected Value

You’ve converted all your options into dollar amounts, but you’re not done. Each option is not equally likely. The people at PLOP say you’ll reach 100,000 people with your article. If that’s true, you’d happily pay $100 to appear on the front page. With a bit of research, however, you discover that PLOP doesn’t even show up in search results. You estimate the chances of reaching 100,000 people at 5%, which might still be high. So multiply the dollar value, $100, by the probability of 5%, to get $5 as the value of the time you’d spend writing PLOP.

Using probabilities is covered in my previous episodes on expected value. There’s a link in this episode’s transcript.

Your Gut Knows

When numbers fail, too, there’s always an old standby. Your gut. You’ve converted everything to one currency. You’ve calculated expected value. That’s all the rational stuff. It’s the raw material for your intuition. Now your intuition can evaluate factors taking into account all the unconscious factors that never see the light of day. For example, whether you’ll be miserable doing the high value thing, versus happy doing the “low” value thing. If your gut give a different answer than your brain, you overlooked something. You gave time the wrong value, or overlooked important pieces of currency. Go back and re-value your time, but correct your valuation based on the feedback from your gut.

Valuing our time is about making tradeoffs. Turn possible uses of time into dollar amounts. For personal time, ask what you’d have to be be paid to give up that time. For exposure, ask what you would be willing to pay for the equivalent exposure. Then multiply by the probability that you’ll really get that payoff, and you have your dollar amount. Then always double-check with your gut. Time may be money, but it’s up to you to decide how much.

This is Stever Robbins. I run webinars and other programs to help people be Extraordinarily Productive, and build extraordinary careers. If you want to know more, visit SteverRobbins.com

Work Less, Do More, and Have a Great Life!



About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT.