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What Is Your Time Worth?

What Is Your Time Worth?

What Is Your Time Worth?

    I don’t like to take risks.

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    I also haven’t had my own business for very long, so I’ve felt like every penny I made had to be sealed away in a vault for safekeeping in case I’d wake up one morning and have no writing assignments, no consulting clients, and no speaking engagements.

    Mentors told me I needed to invest in my business, but I didn’t really listen. The thought of parting with any of my hard-won cash made me feel a little sick. What if I didn’t get that money back?

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    So even as my business grew, I did everything myself. And I mean everything. If a book needed to be overnighted to a new contact, I ran to the post office over lunch. I learned the rules of small business accounting. I became a scheduling pro.

    In the last year, I decided to develop two workbooks for my corporate seminars on recruiting and retaining members of the Millennial Generation. I designed the first one myself. It looked pretty decent – after all, I do have a modicum of talent when it comes to print design. The only trouble was, all the formatting and tweaking and formatting and tweaking some more took me 22 hours over the course of a week.

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    Online print firms charge about $200 to design the same type of workbook. My hourly consulting rate is $100, so I spent $2200 of my own time.

    That was when I realized that doing any and all tasks myself to save a few bucks was actually harming my business. I could have been spending those 22 hours fostering new client relationships, or improving the ones I already have. These are the relationships that allow me to do what I do, and without them, I wouldn’t have the freedom to do the work that’s personally meaningful to me. Things needed to change.

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    So for the next workbook, I decided to get smarter. I let an online firm handle the design. They finished the project in a week, and it looked just as nice as the first one. I saved $2000. And incidentally, this $2200 figure doesn’t take into account the speaking engagements I do every other week, which command a much higher hourly rate. So if I had used the workbook design time to secure additional speaking gigs, I would have saved thousands more.

    Even if for some reason I didn’t care about the clients or the money, my 21 month old son would love to spend 22 hours with me. I would take him to the park and music class. I would watch him run around the Chicago Children’s Museum squealing with excitement. I would pocket the memories of these hours, because he’s never going to be 21 months old again.

    You all are just as busy as I am. And while there’s this pull to be independent, we need to realize that our time is worth something – a lot, actually. We can all be happier, wealthier, and more successful if we play to our strengths and spend our time doing things that only we have the unique combination of talent and experience to pull off.

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    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    No!

    It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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    But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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    What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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    But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

    1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
    2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
    3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
    4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
    5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
    6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
    7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
    8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
    9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
    10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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