How Much is Your Time Worth?
No April Fool’s joke from me. As usual, I’m Missy No Fun.
I’m having a lot of trouble concentrating this week. My work tasks feel big and gooey, like trying to scoop up mountains of marshmallow filling and put it in plastic containers.
Actually, the tasks themselves are not that difficult. Maybe it’s my brain that feels like a mountain of marshmallow filling (the vegan kind, of course), trying to hold some shape in my plastic skull.
i09 had a post about an online calculator that can tell you how much your time is worth. I clicked over to fill out the questionnaire and find out my hourly rate, but I didn’t like the terms of service for the site (a heads up to all: read it and understand it before you use the calculator), so I didn’t fill out the questionnaire. Therefore, I do not know my worth. I mean, I can guess, but no algorithm has spat out how much I should get paid.
I guess I was also turned off by the calculator creator’s comment on i09:
Greenberg says many of us don’t delegate as much as we should, instead continuing to do tasks — for instance, cleaning, household repairs, or errands — that others who place a lower dollar value on their own time could do at least as effectively, if not more so.
At first, I was like, “oh, maybe I should hire someone to do these menial tasks in my life.” But then I thought, “wait, why should someone else do these things that I can do?” It’s one thing if I can’t get X done, and I hire Y to get X done. If doing X takes me away from something more important, or if I worked out of the house and could not possibly find time to do X. It’s another thing to be perfectly capable of getting X done, but hiring Y to do it simply because an algorithm told me that my time is worth more. It’s not as if I’d use that gained time to make more money. I can’t just decide that I’d like to use my hours to earn more vs. taking care of unpaid daily tasks. I would need to find someone who wishes to hire me to work for those hours, and to do so, I’d have to use a lot of hours trying to find work: not the best use of my gained time.
The way Greenberg puts it, it sounds like I should take advantage of some poor fool who doesn’t know that they could put more value on their time. (“Who place a lower dollar value on their own time” — so it’s not that some employers pay less for certain jobs; it’s that those employees have placed a lower value on their own time by doing them?) I understand that there is a benefit to both parties when you hire someone — you get the work done for you, and the other person receives money for doing the job — and that it is detrimental to people in need of a job if I don’t hire them and provide a job. But still, the whole thing felt a little Alex P. Keaton-esque. I almost expected there to be a note within the terms of service that Alex P. Keaton will show up at your house to mock your liberal ideals.
The whole thing made me feel a little sad for humanity if we start looking at the worth of our time in that way. I liked that the woman in the article spent time thinking about how to spend the gift card. Maybe she enjoyed considering her options for twenty minutes. Maybe she was trying to take the giver of the card into consideration and wonder internally what they would want her to buy. The concept of quick, mindless consumption, just spending the gift card as if it’s some task to check off a to-do list instead of something to enjoy (someone gave it to her as a gift!), all for the sake of some algorithm which told her that she’d be better off clicking on the first item she sees and then getting back to work because… time is money.
The worth of my time has been on my mind a lot because I’m reading Michael Moss’s Salt, Sugar, Fat, and it has drastically changed our life. We’ve gone back to how we used to eat, and then surpassed that craziness into a pit of insanity that even I sometimes look around in and say, “is this really the best use of our time?” A long time ago, we ate few processed foods. I made our bread, vegetable stock, and ice cream. The kids were home with me, and we didn’t have anything “better” to do. So I made everything.
And then, when they started school, I picked up more hours of work. And with that work, I ran out of time to make most things. I started buying my bread and ice cream. (I still made the veggie stock, but that’s only because I’m very particular.) Actually, I bought a lot of things. Most things. I still baked and cooked, but I took a lot of short-cuts.
And then came this book, and I decided that we needed to stop purchasing processed foods. Making your own food creates a major time suck. I’ve managed to boil down bread baking to a minimal amount of time, but still. Every minute that I’m baking and cooking is a minute that I’m not working. Or I’m not relaxing. Or I’m not… virtual farming on Hay Day or wiping out confections on Candy Crush.
Is it worth my time? To eat better? To remove a lot of those chemicals from our lives? Which items are worth buying and which items are worth making? And is it enough if we eat like this 80% of the time if the other 20% of the time is laden with high fructose corn syrup or azodicarbonamide?
You can see how disjointed my brain is this week: this post began about a time calculator and ended up being a musing on clean eating.
Is anyone else cutting out processed foods from their life? Would you have any interest in hearing how I’m doing it and sharing recipes/methods? Creating a small virtual village of Moss’ers (that’s what I’m privately calling all of us who are freaked out after reading Moss’s book and suddenly dumping our nutella), where we can list the homemade mixes we’ve created in order to save time?