Don’t make the mistake of equating an hourly wage for the value of your time


Do you know how much your time is worth? Those of us who are 1099ers can easily tell you our hourly wage. Now, what about everyone else?

Well, there’s a quick trick. Take your yearly salary and divide it by 2,000. So if you make a salary of $200,000 per year, you are making roughly $100 per hour.

Now there are a few assumptions. To start off with, there are actually 2080 work hours in a year. Most people work about 40 hours a week, and there are 52 weeks in a year, so 40×52 would get you about 2,080.

It also doesn’t take into account our non-salary benefits, but most people ignore those anyways. So how much do you make an hour?

If you’re a physician, you probably make somewhere between $100 to $200 an hour. Sound about right? Well, look back. The question was how much is your time worth.

It’s easy to mistake your hourly wage for the value of your time.

Well, it is how much you’d have to pay to get me to work during normal work hours. Being out of residency only a few years, I actually work a bit more than full-time. So I already pick up the maximum hours I’d like to work.

So if you wanted me to work or take me away from my time, you’d have to pay me more than that. I’d say at least 1.5x to 2x my hourly salary is what my time is worth.

So for the average physician, that’s $150 to $300 an hour. You probably fall somewhere in-between that. Let’s stick to the bottom of the spectrum of $150 an hour.

Now comes the hard part. Time for some introspection. What do you do in a day that’s not worth $150 an hour?

Now before you get up in arms, I’m not talking about spending time with family. Taking care of your mental health. Or exercising. All that stuff is priceless.

Do a time audit. I’d recommend keeping track of the next few days instead of just one. One can be an abnormality. A few days will give you more of a trend.

Now, if you’re like me, you probably found a good amount of stuff that you do that’s not worth your time. Let’s start with the ones you hate to do.

For me, it was cleaning, it would take me half a day to clean my apartment, but it still never looked that great. I was able to find a maid for $30 per hour online, and she’d clean my apartment way better than I could in a quarter of the time.

Before my time audit, I’d go to the store to drop off my Amazon returns to save the $5 shipping fee. It took about 30 minutes back and forth. I was spending $75 of my time to save $5. I stopped that pretty quickly. More importantly, I now take a second to think about my Amazon purchases. Do I really need this? Is it worth the effort/time if I have to return it?

What are you doing that’s not worth your time? Can you get rid of it or outsource it?

Now one quick warning. It’s easy to get a little carried away with this line of thinking. You can start to see all opportunities by their cost. Lunch with a friend? That is 2 hours or $300. Is it really worth it?

That doesn’t even include the cost of food. Remember that money will always be there. This way of looking at life is only for the extraneous parts of your life. Family, friends, mental and physical health are all invaluable.

In the end, we should have a little intention with how we spend our time and give it value. That way we can spend it doing more of what we love.

Pranay Parikh is a hospitalist and can be reached at his self-titled site, Pranay Parikh.

Image credit:


Leave a Comment

Most Popular

✓ Join 150,000+ subscribers
✓ Get KevinMD's most popular stories