As I have said before, I recently switched companies. One thing that I used to hate about my old job was when I would finish work too early and have nothing to do for the rest of the day. I found a much similar situation on my first project with my new job. I am a consultant for a small company, which pretty much means we work as sub contractors with larger companies. However, I don’t feel that the problem of pay for time rather then pay for work is unique to my field. I talk to a lot of people about this issue and it seems to a problem across multiple industries. Now the problem does not really apply to people that are hourly employees, they are explicitly paid for their time, I am talking about salaried employees.
Pay for time basically refers to the concept that most employers use today where we, employees, have to work a 40-hour workweek. Some people are fortunate enough to not be confined to maintain a daily hour requirement, such as having to work eight hours in a day. I am lucky, it really does not matter how I work my hours as long as I get my work finished and I work all my required hours in a given pay period, which is now 2 weeks. I started really thinking about this two weeks ago, when I finished up my work on a project I was assigned to, and the project was delivered to the clients. Even though the project was done, and I literally had no more work to do, I was still required to report to the client site and basically just sit there, so that I could be there in case a bug came up, but it was really so that I could remain billable.
Yes, its true I was getting paid to basically do nothing. At first, I really did not have a problem with it, I used the time to read up on new technologies and also read some self-improvement books, after a while this began to get old. Even though, I was able to sit and read other stuff, I still felt like I could be making more use of my time, by working on some of the numerous business ideas I have, cleaning my home, going to the gym, or even catching up on sleep, but I couldn’t, I had to remain at my desk and be billable. Something interesting happened to me while I was engaging in this superfluous waste of time; I had a bit of an epiphany.
Here it is, my epiphany that is, people that are truly in control of their destiny are not forced to engage in practices that waste their time. I only consider successful entrepreneurs to be people that are truly in control of their destinies. Do you really think someone like Warren Buffet has to punch the clock; do you think Kanye is required to spend 40 hours a week making a beat. The fact that people who work for themselves do not have their pay bounded by the specific number of hours they work is key to why they are successful and oftentimes, rich. It basically comes down to multitasking. These entrepreneurs are paid a fee to get a job done, if it takes them 40 hours it takes them 40 hours, if it takes them 10 hours it takes them 10 hours, they get paid either way. This ability to be able to be done with work when the work is finished rather than when a specific time has past allows them to be able to work on other things, which contributes to their successes. Now I am by no means saying that they do not have to respect time, of course they may be given deadlines to meet, but my point is if they finish their work before their deadlines, they are free to not have to waste their time.
Everything comes at a price, the freedom that the entrepreneur possesses is no different. While it is true that they have the option not to have to waste their time when their work is finished, they also can not depend on someone else to find them and give them work. If you are an entrepreneur, it is your responsibility to find work, its your responsibility to find health care, its your responsibility to manage employees, if you have them. Also, while it is true that you are not required to work 8 hours a day or 40 hours a week, you do have finish the job, which could sometimes mean working a 60 hour week or a 13 hour day. So while I do think the concept of pay for work is superior, I am by no means saying it is easier then pay for time. With pay for time you are guaranteed (in most cases) a stable source of income, but you may also waste a lot of time in the process, and wasted time is the one thing you can’t get back.