The Tyranny of Hourly

After four months of being back on the independent consulting train, I can confidently say that hourly billing haunts me.

It puts a quantifiable dollar amount on time.

For things like mowing the lawn, that makes the decision easier. If it costs less to pay someone to mow the lawn, then do it. On the other hand, non-billable hours can be stressful. Almost every activity can be weighed against whether it’s better to work and save the time for a different activity.

Finding time for non-billable exploratory work, working out, ongoing education, and just taking some personal downtime all begin competing with a dollar amount. There’s also the consideration that any day, injury or illness could sideline you. And, for better or worse, you can calculate exactly how much that will cost in terms of lost billable hours.

I’m actively working to move away from hourly billing, but it takes time. And it’s an ongoing juggling act. Even with healthy hourly rates and good work with good clients, it has drawbacks. It’s a good temporary approach, but it definitely has drawbacks.