a group of people sitting at a table: You can assign a value to some of your time. Thomas Barwick/Getty Images


© Thomas Barwick/Getty Images
You can assign a value to some of your time. Thomas Barwick/Getty Images

  • Ashley Whillans is an assistant professor at Harvard Business School and a leading scholar in time and happiness. The following is an excerpt from her book, “Time Smart: How to Reclaim Your Time and Live a Happier Life.”
  • In it, she shares how individuals of all ages, educations, and incomes typically choose money when it comes to the tradeoff between money and time.
  • When we do this, Whillans explains we give up things that can benefit us in the long run, including happiness, time, and efficiency. 
  • She reminds us to savor daily experiences, outsource for things we don’t like to do, take vacations, socialize, and take care of ourselves to better value our time as a resource. 
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The income equivalent of happiness gains, I like to refer to as happiness dollars. I define happiness dollars as the income equivalent of the amount of happiness produced by a time-related choice. For example, the happiness you’d gain from a $10,000 raise is equivalent to a decision to use your time in a time-affluent way. You will feel as happy by making that choice as you would by gaining a certain amount of income.



diagram: "Time Smart: How to Reclaim Your Time and Live a Happier Life," By Ashley Whillans. Courtesy of Harvard Business Review


© Courtesy of Harvard Business Review
“Time Smart: How to Reclaim Your Time and Live a Happier Life,” By Ashley Whillans. Courtesy of Harvard Business Review

To put it into concrete terms, if someone makes $50,000 and receives a $10,000 raise, research suggests that their happiness will, on average, increase by about 0.5 points on a 10-point happiness scale.

Similarly, starting to pay to outsource our most-disliked tasks increases happiness by about 0.5 points on a 10-point happiness scale. By comparing these two numbers, I