Many people believe that time is money. They know exactly how much they earn from each hour of work that they do. And it’s often believed that this type of attitude helps people to work harder and better.

But does the belief that time is money actually make people more motivated and productive? Research indicates that it doesn’t. Not at all. In fact, it actually seems to have a negative effect. It makes people more anxious, stressed, and unhappy.

In a recent study by Pfeffer and Carney at the University of California, two groups of people were given the same task to do. People in both groups were paid the same amount for doing this task. People in both groups knew that they would be earning the prescribed amount. The only difference is that people in one of the groups were asked to calculate how much they would be earning per minute.

That small difference ended up having a big effect on the people in the study. Those who knew how much they were earning per minute had a much higher level of cortisol (a stress hormone) in their systems. They also got much less pleasure from the fun activities that they participated in.

Researchers concluded that thinking of time as money makes you feel more stressed, without actually making you more productive. It can also cause you to feel more inpatient and unhappy when you’re not at work. If you’re playing a board game or watching a movie, and you’re thinking about how much money you could be making if you were working instead, you’re going to get a lot less pleasure from those activities.

So if you believe time is money, you might want to try viewing time (and money) in a different light. Try to pay a little less attention to the clock and avoid over-scheduling yourself. You’ll feel better, both mentally and physically.


Smith, M. J., (2017, April 18). How the ticking clock kills. Stanford Business. Retrieved from