Boosting Your Hourly Value through Your Work Efforts

By Dirk Zeller

Money isn’t the scarcest and most valuable resource; time is. There are plenty of ways to make more money, but there’s no way to add more minutes to an hour. You have a limited amount of this precious commodity, so you want to protect it and spend it as if it’s your own personal trust fund.

Most people think that if they work more hours, they’ll automatically make more money. That’s faulty thinking: You can devote more hours to work, but if you invest the hours in the wrong actions, you gain nothing — and you lose time.

The solution may be to ask for more money for your time. Some workers have a good deal of control over their hourly income and can therefore charge more per hour for their services.

The freelance writer can raise her hourly rate from $65 to $70 and bring in an additional $50 on a ten‐hour project. A tax accountant can increase the fee for income tax preparation from $450 to $510. If he needs six hours to prepare the average income tax return, the accountant just gave himself an increase from $75 to $85 an hour.

However, the simple fact is that most people don’t have the luxury of raising their income at will. So what’s the next best step? Change how you use your time so you get the best return on investment — after all, what you do with your time leads to greater prosperity.

To increase your hourly value, you have to decide whether you’ll work toward earning more money or earning more time. Then focus on performing high‐value activities to achieve that goal; the process of discovering the really important actions or items you can invest your time in can help you change your hourly rate.

The decision of how to increase your hourly value — whether to work toward generating more money in the same amount of time or generating the same amount of money in less time — depends on your circumstances:

  • If you’re in a commission or bonus compensation structure, you can increase productivity to earn additional income.

  • If you’re in a salary‐based position, you can find ways to be more productive within the 40 hours week and reduce the additional hours you put in.

If, however, your job doesn’t enable you to increase your hourly value, whether in terms of money or time, then you have bigger decisions to make. Other changes you can make to directly impact your income are to simply do the following:

  • Find a similar job at a company that pays a bigger salary or offers more freedom with your work hours.

  • Improve your performance and earn a raise or a promotion. Know, however, that the success of your efforts toward a raise or promotion is ultimately up to the higher‐ups.

When evaluating time‐for‐money trades, be sure not to limit your definition of return to money: Ask yourself whether the exchange improves the quality of your life. Look at how your life would change outside of work if you were to double or triple your hourly rate. If what you’re trading for dollars does any of the following, it’s a good trade.

  • Increases your ability and opportunity to earn more money

  • Increases your amount of family time

  • Decreases your work hours

  • Enhances your physical and mental fitness

  • Provides an opportunity for someone who needs it

  • Removes something you don’t enjoy or don’t do well from your life

So that’s a simple look at the overall strategy behind improving your return on investment.