Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach

Another Reason To Stop Billable Hours

Billable hours come with several drawbacks. The most notable one is that you’re incentivised to work slowly rather than fast. Which in turn, forces the client to wait longer while paying more money. Hardly fair.

But it’s not just the client who suffers in the system of billable hours. The person doing the billing has an equally bad time.

Yes, he’s making a bundle. But he’s also making himself miserable.


He’s draining every waking moment of its meaning. After all, every sixty-minute block is now a commodity. And if you don’t sell that commodity, you feel as if you’ve wasted your time. 

Even worse, every hour that goes by unsold means you lost money.

And that doesn’t feel good. In fact, it sucks.

That’s why many of the best-paid lawyers and consultants are unhappy, despite their high salaries. To them, time really is money. A lot of money.

Can an activity not be identified as work and billed? Then it’s easy to feel like it’s an activity that’s not worth doing. 

Every non-work venture now actually costs you money.

Taking breaks, spending time with your partner, or going to your kid’s recital are often unaffordable luxuries for the money-spinning professional.

This obsession with exchanging time for value is catastrophic for happiness. Even for non-lawyers.

Because if you believe that the real ‘good stuff’ lies somewhere in the future—like when you’re a big shot millionaire—your life will feel empty until you reach your goal.

That’s why people of poorer nations report having more meaningful lives. They have no real opportunity to exchange their time for more riches. So rather than focusing on the future, they focus on what they have right now—their relationship with their God, family and friends.

Preparing for the future is nice. But living in the future is not. 

So if you want to be happy, don’t treat life like a high-paid lawyer. Resist squeezing every bit of value out of your time and enjoy what you have now. 

By Jeroen Elsing
Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach