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Before becoming self-employed, it never occurred to me to assign a dollar value to my time. I suppose that was probably to the advantage of my employers. When self-employed, however, it’s crucial. One you’re past the I’ll-take-every-assignment-that-comes-my-way-oh-god-please-don’t-let-me-starve phase, you absolutely have to know what your time is worth to assess whether an assignment is worth taking, which gigs have priority over others and which jobs (or clients) are simply sucking up too much of your time.

Check it out. I made my own clipart with these dollars I found in my closet.

Check it out. I made my own clipart with these dollars I found in my closet.

That said, there are traps one can become ensnared in after growing comfortable with the monetary value of one’s time.

    • You can undervalue the jobs that take longer and pay less, but are always there. Big paying jobs often come and go. Part of the monetary value of the hours spent on the “regular stuff” is made up for by not having to search out new work.
    • It’s easy to begin counting every hour of your life in monetary terms. Is going to the movies really worth it? Sitting there and losing money for two hours? Is taking a three-day weekend totally insane? If you add money lost per hour to the cost of getting away, you will literally never leave your house. And especially when you work from home, you really need leave your house sometimes.
    • Monetizing time overvalues efficiency and undervalues things like connecting with people in person, careful editing, making time to think creatively and exploring new ideas.

Again, not to get all contradictory or anything, but knowing the monetary value of your time is an absolute must. Knowing which hours to measure and why, however, is just as important.

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