VALUE / HOUR Calculation

Your time is most valuable when you’re doing the thing YOU are good at.

Do you know what an hour of your time is worth? You should! Knowing this one number can help you make small decisions daily. Read on for an extended examination of the great time mystery (aka, WHERE DOES IT GO?!).
Or, skip right to our favorite Value/Hour Quiz at


Did you know that there are 365 days in a year?

Of course you did! But did you know that you have around 2,000 work hours in a year?

I didn’t.

2,000 hours. Was I making good use of them? I had no idea. And it made me nervous. Time is the one thing we can’t get more of. Or, can we?

A Closer Look at the Numbers

In the fall of 2018, I helped one of my favorite clients, Wendy Clark, design some worksheets around life/work balance and time/value. And though I do know that there are 365 days in a year, I found myself super surprised at some of the other numbers she put in front of me:

LIFE Days / Hours WORK Days / Hours
365 Days in a Year 250 Work Days in a Year
55 Weeks in a Year 50 Work Weeks in a Year
7 Days in a Week 5 Work Days in a Week
168 Hours in a Week 40 Work Hours in a Week
8,700 Hours in a Year 2,000 Work Hours in a Year

There it was, in black and white. As my math teacher sister says, the numbers never lie. There really are 2,000 work hours in every year. If there were 8,700 hours in a year and work was taking 2,000, where were the other hours going?!

Where Do All the Hours Go?

Some simple math tells us that after subtracting work, we still have 6,700 hours every year. We work. We sleep. We eat. We watch tv, play on our phones and with our kids and dogs, we garden, we exercise, we read… Does that really take up 6,700 hours?!

Wendy shared another tool with me that showed me where a little more of my time was going. Her Time Budget Equation is based off the Gross Profit Margin equation used for business calculations.

Gross Profit Margin equation: Gross Revenue () Cost of Goods Sold () Gross Margins (=) Net Profit

Wendy’s Life Hours equation:
Hours / Year (-) Sleep & Self-Care (-) Work Hours (=) Free Hours

Now, let’s fill in the equation with numbers:
[8,700 hours/year] – [(8 hours sleep/night = 2,900 sleep hours/year) +
(1 hour self care/day = 365 hours)] – [2,000 hours/year] = 3,500 hours
of free time /year

My takeaway from this turns was that we spend a lot of our hours/year time sleeping! Which of course I knew, but the numbers look very different when you zoom out and take a big picture view. Is there a task you do every day? How much time to does that task take? Do the math.

Getting to Your Value Number

Even after adding in sleep and a little self-care, we still have 3,500 hours per year. Which seems like a lot, but after knowing that we have 8,700 hours total per year, it begins to feel very precious. Limited. Especially when we begin to think about how many hours we spend cleaning or cooking every week…

So, how do we SAVE time? Or get more time? By knowing our value per hour. If we know the value of one hour of our day, we know what our time is worth. That number allows us to outsource work that we don’t want to do or that we are not good at, which gives us more time!

There are a lot of calculators our there that will walk you through calculating the value of your time. But the best one that I’ve found is at Clearer Thinking, whose goal is to use high-quality research and evidence to build fun, interactive tools that help you understand yourself and your decisions.

The calculator is easy to understand and then walks you through the reasoning at the end, make it easy and enjoyable to digest how you are thinking about your personal value and how you might want to shift that thinking.

Putting Your Value/Hour in Action

Now that you know your number,  how do you use it? For tasks big and small, and purchases, too!

Evaluate each task in your life. Think of Marie Kondo, and ask yourself, “Does this task bring anything good to my life? Do I like doing it? What do I get from it?”

Next, if you find yourself doing any task that you dread (which will often eat up extra time in the form of procrastination) or a task that you’re not good at (which also eats extra time) or a task that you do rarely and must relearn every time, write it down.

Then, figure out if there is someone you can hire to do that task for you and get an estimate. If the cost is less than your Value / Hour, HIRE THEM. And just like that, you’ve bought yourself some honest to goodness time.


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