Buying your time
“Do not delay procrastination” is one call to action that is not. Ellen deGeneres said something similar: “Procrastinate now; don’t put it off.” When we procrastinate, we soak in time for its own sake and not what we can do with it or in it. We stretch it like bubble gum until we reach a deadline and the stretched bubble gum turns out to be a tight rubber band that will snap and hit us on our faces. Then we painfully remember that time is finite and as real as beginnings are, so are finish lines.
Drawn out in the maps of our life’s desires is a seemingly unlimited terrain of adventures of all shapes and sizes. But we all know we can only do what we can within a definite two-sweep of an old clock’s face. Each of us on Earth has only 24 hours in a day. No one can buy, pray for, code for, teleport to or chant for more (or less) than that.
This is why I think the topmost reason that will emerge if we asked people for an excuse or an explanation for not doing what they need/want to do, they will say it is the lack of time. And guess what, when people say they lack time, studies like this one that links it with mental health and others like this one on emotional irritability have shown that it is tied to reduced feelings of well-being. People generally don’t feel good when they feel like they didn’t have enough time for something they wanted to do. In fact, research has found that just making people feel how valuable time is makes the same people feel like they don’t have enough of it. Scientists call this “time famine” and it affects your well-being.
A most recent study tried to see how we could buy our way out of this time famine. Yes, you read right. I guess in the context of a post-industrialist world where we are such consumers of products, it is a valid question to ask. What is the place of money in terms of getting us to feel we have gained or saved time?
We cannot literally buy time but we can make ourselves feel that we saved time and apparently, we feel good when we do and our overall feeling about our day transforms. The study found that particularly true when people used their money to buy time-saving services and devices. Their moods improved and their overall satisfaction with life looked up, as well.
The study also found that among the wealthy, the less wealthy are the ones who got the most satisfaction out of buying time. The richer ones (half of the 818 millionaires who were asked), even if they were given the chance in the study, did not allocate any of their income to buying time. The research also found that buying too many time-saving devices will not give you the proportional amount of life satisfaction. This means you can buy time or more precisely, feelings that you have more time, but only up to a point.
These findings could be useful in the way we reward ourselves or employees. When my assistant in the house retired after for almost 25 years, I knew things will not be the same in the way I lived with ease. But with the help of a gang of kitchen helpers – an air fryer, a digital pressure cooker, and a blender – I learned how to cook and prepare meals in much less amount of time than I imagined.
At work, instead of just common incentives for our team, we could add another criteria – will this save him or her more time- to the rewards we get for them. Perhaps, instead of a car, give some rental money free for living space for your trusted manager so s/he could save time from traffic. Give them more “work from home” time without sacrificing output. Have some healthy affordable meals delivered to your team to save them from the time they spend looking for where to eat everyday. These things, as the study suggests, improve people’s mood and life satisfaction. They become happy and we all know what happens to a company whose employees are happy.
I think this life satisfaction from perceiving that you get more time is also what is behind anti-aging products, beyond beauty. Buying anti-aging products could make you feel like you have stolen time from the main timekeeper and that you are getting away with it and that makes you feel good.
I think this is the reason why when you have realized that you have procrastinated (not during), you feel really bad about yourself. You know you have squandered time that cannot be recovered. You have stolen time from your own self and ironically, that is one thing you can’t give back to yourself. These were not just minutes of your life. These were your chances you lost to seize your day. – Rappler.com