Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Value of Time

Marketing, Money and More (Issue 14)


Time


I'm kind of a geek at heart. I watch more Discovery Channel programming than "normal" shows. One thing that always fascinates me is the concept of "time.". Time is the 4th dimension. If you believe in the concept of String Theory, then you know that we operate in an 11 dimension universe in a vast multiverse of universes. Before I go into a mind-blowing rant, I'm going to explain (or at least try to explain) my views on time. Time as it stands today is experienced by each person differently. In moments of high-stress where your adrenaline is pumping hard, your perception of time is changed allowing your brain to process more information.

Experiments have been done showing this is true. A display on a perceptual chronometer was used to flash numbers on a screen that in normal circumstances could not be read by a person. When time is slowed or our ability to take in more visual information per second is increased, the numbers on the screen are revealed. Check it out the video (Click Here).

It is also true that gravity and velocity affect time. Astronauts in outer space are experiencing time differently than those of us on earth. Although only milliseconds of a difference, astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) actually age slower than we do on earth (.007 seconds slower to be exact).



What Is My Time Worth?


Now that I've gone over the science of time and how crazy time really is, we begin to think of our own time, who values it, how we value it and what our daily activities say about how we value our time. Having worked int he advertising industry, I used to sell "time." I know. How do you sell "time?" I had rate sheets for processes involved in the creative process. "Concepting" might be billed at a rate of $125 per hour while "copywriting" was billed at $90 per hour. If it takes 50 hours of billable "time" to create a sales kit, then I would factor in all of the different rates and hours and build an estimate. Is someone's time really worth $125, $200, $250 or even $1? Clients never felt like they were buying "time". They felt like they were buying an "end-product" which would ultimately be the sales kit.

My time is divided by my personal activities and my work time. Essentially I sold 40 hours of my weekly time to my employer, mobileStorm (and happily in case my CEO is reading this.) That time is worth more to mobileStorm than what it is worth to me, economically speaking. mobileStorm also invests in my knowledge of digital marketing, increasing the value of my time as it is used to consult for clients. The more my time can be sold for, the value of my time goes up.

Opportunity costs play a big role. I just recently moved. I wanted to save time and money. Unfortunately I couldn't save both. I chose to save money and move all of my belongings myself. I took my personal time and my work time to move all of my stuff. I've hired movers in the past to the tune of $100 per hour. If the time I'd save equals 20 hours by hiring movers for 5 hours, then I need to make $25 an hour or more for this to make sense financially. Fortunately for me, it did make financial sense to get movers. This was also great because moving is one of my top 3 most horrible things I can do next to cutting myself and getting cavities filled.


Older, Wiser and Less Time to Waste


As I've gotten older and more mature in my career, I've begun to value time much more highly. As I've worked in multiple roles from owning my own consulting business, to working for other people, I had my time valued anywhere from $10 per hour to $250 per hour. In my personal life, friends and family don't pay for my time (although sometimes I wish I could charge.) That time is beyond monetary value, but somewhere in my mind when I prioritize family and friends above work I must have made some calculation.

I have had people ask for free advice or a favor or to help a nonprofit. I rarely have turned down requests for such things and I have become known for being dependable and someone that can be counted on to help. My views are changing now and I have made a conscious effort to turn down more of these opportunities to give away my time. I believe my past generosity was necessary to prove myself, my willingness, my general work ethic and to just be a good friend and human being. In order for me to raise my value and the value of my time, I have to pull back on my inventory of hours and make sure that opportunities to sell my time are very carefully calculated.


Time to Change


Thinking like this can make you feel cold, heartless and make everything into a money comparison. I am not saying that you shouldn't visit your mom and dad for Christmas because your time is worth too much. I'm saying that being aware or what your time is currently valued at and what you would like to be paid for your time. Take the time to come up with a dollar value for what you would like to earn and apply that to the total hours you would be willing to commit to your professional activities. If your current earnings per hour worked are not inline with what you value your time at, then it is "time" to look at increasing your professional value. Take comparative salaries of others and see what those people have in terms of experience, schooling or abilities. The goal should be to acquire the skills and experience necessary to achieve your ideal hourly value. Obviously financial situations change and I think we have all taken less than would have liked to do a task or project because we needed the income. If you are in a stable position and you can inch up your professional hourly value year by year, then you can get closer and closer to having your time valued very highly by others.... earning more and having your priceless personal time to do what makes you happy.


Alternatively you could build your business on the ISS and charge more per Earth hour than any other business on the Planet! I invested time in sharing my thoughts in this blog and I hope to one day have it pay off in the form of a published book. We'll see as this is my testing ground. I'd love to hear some feedback on how you feel about your time.