How to Turn Your Time into Money at Work

November 21, 2006

How can we most effectively use our time to maximize our income?

Time Is Money
When you’re at work, every minute that goes by is costing your employer money. In return, they expect productivity; they expect you to generate value for them. If you work for yourself, you want every minute you spend to be generating some type of income.

Gimme Your Money
So, when you’re working, time is money. When someone asks, “Can I have a few minutes of your time?”, what they’re really asking is “Can I have some of your money?”

Next time someone interrupts for a “quick question”, think carefully of what your time is worth before responding. My weakness is that I like to help other people out and have a tendency to say, “Sure, what do you need”. Of course working an 18 hour day yesterday helped put things into perspective and was the inspiration behind this post.

Turning Time into Money
So, how can we do a better job of not giving away our time and instead turning it into money?

The first step is determining what activities generate the most income for you. As an employee, what projects or accomplishments will you be evaluated on next performance review? If you’re self employed, what products or services bring in the most money? Which clients generate the most revenue or have the most potential? If you don’t know these metrics, figure them out quickly!

Once you know where your effort is most effective then you can turn to prioritizing your time. A great resource for this is Stephen Covey’s book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, which describes habits we can form to be more effective in our efforts. The third habit he talks about is called “Put First Things First”. He uses the following quadrant:

to help us plan how we spend our time based on how urgent and importance a task is. In our case, the importance would relate to the amount of money it generates. The urgency would correspond to the priority we set for a task.

Junk Mail Theory
How do we know which quadrant it belongs in for sure? Sometimes I worry I’ll stick a task in quadrant II or III that potentially should be in quadrant I.

The way I get over this concern is by thinking of it like throwing away what looks to be junk mail. If it’s really important, you will get another follow up letter. The same with tasks, if I misclassify it, sooner or later it will pop back up into quadrant I.

So basically, when something comes up at work, if it’s not in Quadrant I, don’t do it! Give this approach a shot and you’ll find yourself making more money and giving less of it away!

Outside of Work
For discussion on what your time is worth outside of work, check out these articles at Mighty Bargain Hunter, Free Money Finance, Blueprint for Financial Prosperity and Make Love Not Debt.


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Ben Edwards, the founder of Money Smart Life, saved up enough to buy a Nintendo back when he was 12 years old. When he used the money to buy shares of Wal-Mart stock instead, he knew he wasn't like the other kids... His addiction to personal finance has paid off for his family and now he's helping you to afford the life that you want. Check him out on the web at Google Plus, Twitter and Facebook.

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