The Value of Time

Posted on August 16, 2018

“All you have to decide is what to do with the time that has been given to you.”

- Gandalf, The Fellowship of The Ring

At the time of this writing, I am 35 years old, husband to a beautiful wife and father to an amazing daughter. I have been very blessed on my journey so far – I have lived in beautiful places, been part of some amazing projects and have met people I could learn from for the duration of two lifetimes. And I still feel I’m only at the beginning.


Over the last 10 years, a lot of external factors have changed in my life. I got married to an amazing woman, have moved from Switzerland to the US, have changed jobs four times, and completely redistributed the hair on my head. All of these have had an impact on my life, but when thinking about it, I’ve concluded that some of the biggest changes were internal rather than external – as in, the way I see, approach, and value things in my life.

One of the biggest changes has been my appreciation of time. Ten years ago, time was not on my mind – ever. Yeah, I got busy sometimes and wished for more hours, but generally speaking, I fit everything I wanted into my day.

Now granted, sleeping an average of three hours less than I do today in addition to not having a family or a company to build will automatically provide you with more time at your hands. But even with these changes in mind, I notice one major change:

Ten years ago, time seemed infinite, and therefore contained relatively low value.

I tried everything. Met with anybody. Spent hours fiddling with stuff. Spent even more hours playing computer games and indulging in movie marathons.

Today, I’m reminded constantly that time is finite, an in addition I’m unable to create more - and therefore it has more value than most other things.

I think before I try new things. I’ve become picky with meeting random people. I give up quicker if I can’t make something work, and it over to experts. I have not played a computer game in years, and I’ve caught myself considering a particular movie lately wondering: “Is this worth my time?” (Hint: Jurassic Park wasn’t. Mission Impossible was.)

Upon first impression, it might seem my life has become more restricted – or less open, for sure. Life has caught up with me. I’ve lost my freedom. But when looking at it more closely, it’s a natural evolution that comes with recognizing the value of time. I’ve learned that many things are IBNU (Interesting But Not Useful) and that the short-term thrill of something new many times is not worth the price I pay: The price is not being able to do the things I really love.

However, the analytical part of me was not really satisfied with the wishy-washy explanation above, so I asked myself the following question:

How do I define the value of a unit in time?

 While there’s no exact science, and the answer will most likely differ for every person reading this, for me the answer that comes closest is twofold.

  • My hourly rate

I work XX hours a month. I get paid XX dollars a month. Which makes my hourly rate XX dollars. Now, that’s a bit simplified, since you’re not really productive every hour of your work day: You might work hours outside of what you’re paid for, or you may be building value for the future with time invested now. Nevertheless, for me, that value is $200. If I can save more than a $200 an hour by doing it myself, I’ll do it. If the job takes 4 hours and costs me $100 to outsource, I won’t think twice about having someone else do it.

  • Priceless time

Time spent with my family is priceless. Watching my daughter take her first steps is worth more than $10,000 to me – and it took only a few seconds. No matter if it’s for an hour or three, going on a date with my wife has value beyond the monetary. So, in these cases, the above math does not apply. I call this my “priceless time.” Priceless time always wins: If I have the option of spending priceless time, I’ll pick that. Only if I have a slot for priceless time built in and still am faced with the decision of no 1) above, I might do the job myself.

As my business grows, the rate of 1) will (hopefully) go up. As my family grows, the number of times where I’ll pull the “priceless” card will most likely increase. For now, this is the best definition of the value of my time and the decisions required of me to be made on the base of that value I’ve found.

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But - how does all this tie into a business blog? I’m glad you asked.

At GoNitely, prospective clients will sometimes argue about the percentage we take, and the percentage we pay their personal manager. When it comes to engaging our service, ask yourself one question: How much time are you willing to spend to run your vacation rental? Be brutally honest – include listing on multiple site, adjusting prices, communicating with guests, taking care of issues (yes, those phone calls at 11 p.m. about a key not working), going shopping for supplies, replacing light bulbs… the list goes on and on.

IF you say that you can pull it off technically (you need to, in order to maximize revenue), and IF you say you have a local network you can call on in case of emergencies 24/7, and IF you say that you’re happy to spend hours and hours taking care of those tasks – you do not need us. But those are three big IFs, the answer to which for most people is “no” for at least two out of three.

Let’s use my personal example to illustrate: The very first idea for GoNitely came with my family vacation home in Laax, Switzerland, (read some more in this blog post if you’re interested). Even though I was traveling the world with my wife and clearly had plenty of time on my hands, I still felt that that time would be wiser spent riding a scooter around an island in the Philippines. Or taking a cooking class in northern Thailand. Or even sitting on a lonely beach just watching the waves. Because that’s what provided value to my life at the moment.

Right now, I refuse to spend time to call up a neighbor to find a replacement key if guests lock themselves out. Even though I deeply care about that property (after all, my grandfather built it…), I prefer to spend time with my family and am willing to pay for someone else to take care of everything in Laax. Could some issues be solved by myself, following rule 1) above? Absolutely. But my goal is to create more “priceless” moments in my life. I’m working pro-actively to increase the amount of rule 1) all the time – in the hope of one day getting to the point where I can get rid of it altogether, and only keep rule 2). And, last but not least, I take pride in the fact that I’m providing a supplemental income for a young nurse who lives close by – she’s our manager. It’s a win-win.

So let me ask Gandalf to repeat:

“All you have to decide is what to do with the time that has been given to you.”

If that is running your vacation rental – please do. But if you think that most likely making close to the same amount of money while having a lot more free time on your hands sounds good – we’d love to help.

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About the Author:

Picture of Markus
Proud father and husband, humble leader. Currently revolutionizing short-term rental management with GoNitely. Living in beautiful California close to San Francisco.

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