Thursday, May 13, 2010

Is it Worth My/Your Time?

When given an opportunity for a new work assignment or project, many of us just look at the amount to be paid or salary. If the number looks good, we accept. Consideration of more than just money is not specific to Tokyo, but in such a large city and with lengthy commute times - this consideration becomes important.

Recently I accepted a job assignment. At initial glance, it seemed great. First, the job was teaching at a Senior High School - this is my ideal job setting. The pay, while not super high, was acceptable. For ease of this stories calculation examples, let us say the pay was $100 per day.

My work day was to be 8:30-4:00pm with a one-hour lunch. Okay, simple division...$14.28 per hour. It's "okay" pay - plus it is valuable "in Japan" experience!

But I had commuting cost; $7 per day. So, pay is actually $93...divide by hours...$13.28 per hour.

Wait! how much time am I spending commuting? 1 hour and 45 minutes each way! Total of 3 hours, 30 minutes. So, my work day is basically 10 hours, 30 minutes...divide by pay...$9.02 per hour.

I had to decide, and you should consider any project similarly, is my time worth it? Based on work hours, commute time, commute costs, aggravation of lengthy commute the pay worth it?

I think it is important to develop a personal "minimum wage" that is acceptable, and add in commute time to work hours - and then see how much you are making per hour.

Is the experience going to be that good? Is the long commute making you lose other opportunities for work and friendships?


  1. I definitely work out the hourly rate - working in IT, I found as a permanent, I was expected to put in far more than 8 hours. If you are doing an extra couple of hours a day, you are really robbing yourself.

    Now I do contract work and get paid by the hour. It's so much more profitable (and I can go on long holidays without having to get "permission").

    I don't take commuting hours into consideration. I guess Melbourne is much different to Tokyo in that respect - it's a very centralised city and I've recently chosen to move from the inner suburbs to the outer burbs where it's nice and quiet. I now have over an hours commute to work but it's my choice because this is the lifestyle I want. I'd have to make that commute for just about any job I had.

  2. I am sure more centralized makes a difference - plus if one adores where they live...but I am sure, even if it is subconscious...commuting time enters in to job acceptance somehow! If your contract offer is for fairly low wage AND a long commute...I mean - if the money was great, I would not care about the commute so much either. Or if the commute was easy - if my 1 hour and 45 minutes was only 1 train, perhaps! But changing trains 4 times and then a "standing room only" bus trip....