Valuing One’s Own Time

An interesting article in WSJ discusses how we use and value time when it comes to doing household chores. The articles begins with a story of a Manhattan executive who bills at USD 200 an hour and spent 10 hours battling Sprint for USD 9 in late charges!

In an economy of convenience, where time can be purchased in everything from bags of prewashed lettuce to dog-walking services, these studies aim to help answer dozens of questions Americans wrestle with daily: Who can afford a babysitter? A lawn service? A personal shopper? “The household is a little firm,” says Daniel Hamermesh, an economics professor the University of Texas. “It employs labor, it buys technology, it makes decisions about what services to outsource.”

But it is a firm that could use some management consultants. Americans often make drastic miscalculations about the value of their time, taking a do-it-yourself approach to tasks that might be less costly in time and money to hire out. A simple oil change, for example, costs $24.99 at some Jiffy Lube locations. But the supplies to do it yourself can run about $21. Yet about 43 million U.S. residents say they change their own oil.

In the past, economists looked strictly at your income to put a price on your leisure hours. Now, the study of off-the-clock time — or “household production,” as it is formally known — is getting a fresh look, even beginning to take into account intangible factors such as satisfaction and pleasure.

Am wondering about how this applies to blogging. I think I am spending 30 minutes a day on blogging, and 30 minutes on average a day for the Tech Talk columns. So, that’s an hour a day reading, thinking and writing for myself and others. It is a significant time investment. And as I have written here in the past, it is definitely well worth the time spent, though I couldn’t possibly put a tangible financial value on the activity.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.