Is it Time or Something Else?

Charlene Norman
3 min readMar 10, 2024

The other day, I encountered the usual ‘What’s your time worth’ argument. You know the one.

You don’t build wealth by penny-pinching. Because your time is more valuable than you think. Instead, what you are supposed to do is

  1. Decide the value of an hour of your time.
  2. Outsource any task that will cost less than what you could earn in that time.
  3. Enforce your hourly rate, and don’t deviate.

All of this sounds absolutely fabulous until it doesn’t work — and for far too many, it doesn’t work.

The list of reasons why it doesn’t work is long. However, here are three:

  1. Child care, elder care, family care, and domestic goddess activities (like cooking, cleaning, and laundry) have pretty much zero value attached to them because, for far too long, society has chosen to pay little, if anything, for those services. If you don’t believe me, check into the level of earnings a person employed in those categories makes TODAY.
  2. Support or foundation roles in any company (like those people who work in distribution, on the filling lines, hold clerical roles, hold the fort on the customer-facing posts, (or essentially anyone not part of the senior management level) are traditionally paid much, much less than those who work in the hallowed halls of upper management. Again, if you don’t believe me, look at the groundswell of support and power the unions are gathering.
  3. Once we decide what an hour of our time is worth, most of us do not take that next step of What do I need to do to bring in that hour of revenue?

For those on any consistent earnings track, like a salary or a business that pays a base personal income, this is never an issue. Keep on keeping on, and maybe make some smarter decisions about what can be ‘farmed out.’

For those who are self-employed, however, this is a huge issue. And unfortunately, far too many don’t have the necessary time or room to do so.

And that’s when I get to hear any or all of the following:

I have no money for that. I must do it myself. I have far too much to do and too little time to do it. If I spend there, I can’t do these things here. Maybe I can get a high school student, or my kid or somebody who doesn’t need the money to do it for me.

Whatever the excuse, the result is always the same.

The self-employed person sees their time as worth much less than the employed’s. So, the self-employed person willingly takes on tasks to save a nickel everywhere. The result is that the self-employed person gets into an endless circular spiral of no money, more tasks, more tasks, less time, less time, no progress, no progress, no money.

The old way of viewing everything through the lens of money and wealth is wrong. A better way is to view all this through the lens of joy and happiness.

  1. Does the task give you instant joy and happiness? If yes, continue. If no, STOP.

Joy and happiness have this weird effect on us humans. They energize us. The more joy and happiness in our lives, the more energy we have. The more energy we have, the higher our motivation to do stuff we don’t like — or, at the very least, make some space and room in our day to do it.

If we can support the idea that 80% of our day can be about what brings us joy and happiness and 20% can be drudge work, we can still end the day in fine form — aka happy, energized, efficient, and effective.

So, instead of looking at what you can trade for money, look at what you can trade for joy. Then, think seriously about ways to do that.

It’s a simple yet mind-blowing idea. That actually works.

If you are self-employed, your real breakthrough comes when you wholeheartedly embrace selling, get in front of the right people, and consistently earn that dollar value you want. I know. I’ve been there.



Charlene Norman

Inspiring good humans to make a difference for all on Planet Earth. Podcast host, author, and community leader. Fanatical about change for the highest good.