What is the value of your time?

A perceived lack of time is one of the biggest factors affecting our sense of wellbeing, according to research conducted by NAB. Which raises the question, how much is your time worth?

The NAB Wellbeing Insight Report, Time: How we use it and value it, surveyed Australians and found we’d be willing to pay, on average, $98 for an extra hour in every day.

Of course, that value varies enormously according to your life stage. How much would you pay for an extra hour?

The NAB report found cash-strapped retirees and full-time students would pay only $9 and $33 respectively for that mythical extra hour, while men aged 18 to 29 would pay $138, parents $137, and a childless Australian $94, The New Daily reports.

The research states: “During the pandemic, many of us experienced a much less structured and a more distorted sense of time as movement restrictions impacted typical activities …

“Many of the ways we typically market time became unworkable due to lockdowns and restrictions on travel and social gatherings.”

Read more: How to embrace early retirement

Of course, competitive, efficient Americans take such theoretical research literally.

Self-help author James Clear says: “Whether you want more wealth, more friendship, more freedom or more impact, it all comes down to how you spend and value your time.”

He believes putting a monetary value on time is a good way to get the most out of it.

To do so, Mr Clear says he spoke to entrepreneurs, productivity consultants, executive coaches and even professional poker players. Then, he tracked every hour he spent over a three-month period and calculated the value of each hour.

To use his method, first calculate all the hours spent on your job, including commuting. Mr Clear estimates that for many employed people, this comes to roughly 10 hours a day, five days a week, so 2500 hours a year.

Next, work out your “take-home” pay, after tax is deducted.

Now, divide that pay by the number of hours you spend working.

The result can be chastening.

“When we divide their total income by the total time spent working, the value of each hour is much less than what they charge for a given hour of work with a client,” says Mr Clear.

For example, a freelancer charging $40 per hour usually does not make $100,000 a year.

Mr Clear feels once you have your number, it is easy to make decisions.

“If you know your time is worth $25 per hour, then you should never wait in line for 30 minutes to get a $10 gift card.

“If you know your time is worth $60 per hour, then you should always pay $49 for shipping instead of spending one hour shopping at the store.

Most other advice on time and money can be summarised: “Time is our most valuable asset because once it’s gone, it’s gone forever. Unlike money, you can’t earn more time once you’ve spent it.”

Read more: Five steps to easily give your life a makeover

Time management go-getter gurus such as Craig Jarrow and Jon Hall advise us to establish priorities, plan our days and weeks accordingly, and avoid getting side-tracked by our bad habits or those of others.

The pair say you must:

  • schedule
  • learn to say no
  • keep meetings at the appointed length
  • don’t tolerate tardiness
  • let others know your time is valuable.

All excellent advice, we’re sure, for the ambitious, competitive, focused individual trying to save that crucial extra penny or get another rung up the ladder.

But since life is short, we offer the wellbeing antidote to stress-inducing ninja-hacks intended to maximise rat race productivity.

We offer heretic Pom Tom Hodgkinson, founding editor of The Idler, the celebrated magazine about the “fine art of doing nothing” and his book How To Be Idle.

Here are the first words of this subversive tome, surely lucky to have escaped censorship and burning:

“It’s good to be idle. The purpose of this book is both to celebrate laziness and to attack the work culture of the Western world, which has enslaved, demoralised and depressed so many of us.”

It’s fun. For some readers, such fun may constitute time better spent than worrying whether they should have fixed the light globe or not just then.

And it costs less than most of the precious extra hours NAB surveyed us about.

How much is your time worth? Do you get enough time to do nothing?

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