Who are you billing that time to?
Your value is not tied to the hours you bill.
Weird to think that most of my career has been spent quantifying every moment into six minute increments. 0.1 for this. 0.3 for that. No wait that was a 0.5, I think. Eh, I was a bit too slow so let’s write that down to a 0.4.
That’s how I thought, lived, and breathed.
I didn’t appreciate how much control time had over my life until I went in-house. It was the first time in my career I didn’t have to record my 0.1s. I had just jumped out of a 0.7 meeting and waited a 0.1 for my Nespresso to be poured out of the machine.
“Wow, I can’t believe I wasted a whole 0.8 today,” I thought while slugging down my third (fourth?) espresso (an aside, Peets makes a great Nespresso pod alternative).
I paused and almost slapped myself back to reality. A 0.8? To whom? Who is getting an invoice for that 0.8? That’s right, no one. I sat down and had to reconcile this fact.
Earth shattering realization, let me tell you. Makes you think. If I’m not recording my time and quantifying my day, how do I know the value? How do I know how much my time is worth, my effort is worth, and ultimately, how much I am worth?
That’s the thing about recording your time. At the end of the day, you get so consumed with the idea of it that you start to associate it with your actual value. There were honest-to-god days where I felt valueless because I only billed a few hours. Conversely - because of travel and litigation related events - I would bill 10-12 hours in a day. Could not have felt more valuable (and exhausted).
Reader, as you can probably guess, this is not a healthy mindset. Especially when you suddenly go cold turkey and stop recording your time.
It took me a minute (could I have billed for that?) to appreciate that this was a real problem. I had spent so long associating time with value that I didn’t know how to value myself without it.
“I’m worth more than the hours I put into the day.”
Luckily, I snapped out of it and realized my value is unconditional and not tied to the 0.1s I accumulated in a day. And then eventually you see it (or rather, stop seeing it). The mental math and slew of 0.1s no longer appear before, during, and after every task. The clock stops. It’s a great feeling of relief.
I now speak to attorneys pretty much all day. Every so often I will catch someone counting 0.1s in their head while we speak. Towards the end of the conversation I always ask:
“Who are you billing that time to?”
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