Your time is not valuable

(to anyone but you)

There is this little paradox: I would pay just about anything to get more time for myself — on this planet, on this day, to get more sleep — but the thought that someone else should pay me for my time is a terrible idea.

One way to look at this is that my time is worth so much more to me than to anyone else, so there’s no way I could charge it! But a more useful way to think about it is that nobody else actually cares how I spend my time. Other people only care whether or not I produce something they’re willing to pay for.

It’s been a lot of fun dusting off the long-lost skills from my film minor in college and exploring YouTube as a way to think in public. So with that in mind, I’ve spend [irrelevant number] of hours on a video that hopefully will convince you to try to shake yourself out of the mindset that your time is what you get paid for.

Click to watch! And hit reply to let me know what you think, or say it in public on Twitter or YouTube.

A hundred years ago, most people did things like factory or mining work: for a certain amount of time, you could contribute 15 new car bumpers, or 75 lbs of coal, or 16 watch components.

Since the amount you could produce was linked to the amount of time you spent on the line, it made sense to link pay to time spent at work.

Today in the U.S., most white-collar work is not like that anymore. It makes no sense to link time to pay because time is not nearly as connected to outcomes as it used to be, but unfortunately most people still think it is. The only thing that matters is whether you deliver something more valuable than your price.

For any client, customer, and even most employers: your time is not valuable. Your results are valuable.

Unlinking these two concepts is incredibly empowering.