Check this out. Yesterday I saved 6 minutes while gardening, 3 minutes making breakfast, a whole 20 minutes reading the paper, 7 minutes taking a shower, 9 minutes walking the dog, (by not stopping to talk to a neighbour), 1 minute vacuuming and 14 minutes checking emails (by just deleting them all unread, what the hell – time is money isn’t it?).
Today I counted up all the minutes I saved yesterday â€“ 60 minutes! An hour! Now Iâ€™m using this time I saved yesterday to write to you today.
Iâ€™m being facetious of course. Thatâ€™s not how time works is it?
I know youâ€™ve been told, (repeatedly) ‘time is money‘. Think about it. Time is NOT money!
Time and money are two completely different things! You donâ€™t actually save minutes like coins, do you? What is the point of â€œsaving timeâ€? And yet how often have you been persuaded to buy a product or service because it â€œsaves timeâ€?
Iâ€™m guessing â€“ (and since Iâ€™ve written hundreds of ads with â€˜saves timeâ€™ (or worse, ‘saves time AND money‘ as the number one product or service benefit, itâ€™s an educated guess) â€“ very often.
I do not know why we have all bought-in to this â€œsave timeâ€ and â€œtime is moneyâ€ rubbish. Are we just easily-led? Is it a direct result of the late 1980â€™s financial cavalcade?
Or maybe we just thought we needed some kind of vaguely rational-sounding idea like, â€œitâ€™ll save my time, my time being so very valuable nâ€™all so I must buy itâ€ instead of simply admitting you want it because it looks lovely, will be fun to play with, makes you feel good or any other less logical but much more truthful reason.
Nothing saves you time. No one can save time. Not even you. As Robert Burns put it 200 years ago in his Tam Oâ€™Shanter poem
â€œNae man can tether Time nor Tide
the hour approaches Tam maun rideâ€
So no, you canâ€™t stop the tide turning, or time passing and you sure canâ€™t put time in a piggy bank for later or â€˜saveâ€™ it for application elsewhere.
You choose what you do when. You. You donâ€™t save time. You choose what youâ€™ll do and when youâ€™ll do it.
The other myth perpetrated by marketers is the idea that everyone is â€œtime-poorâ€. No-one has any time any more. Argh! What are they talking about?!
Imagine suggesting this idea to a farmer in Papua New Guinea or a forester in Sweden or a Masai warrior in Africa or anyone working close to the land: â€œExcuse me, I know you are time-poor so would you like this tool to save time?â€
While they might, being human, take the tool, they would think you were insane. Poor of time? Time is time. No more time, no less time. Day, night, season, cycle of seasons. Itâ€™s just time.
This time-poor idiocy works for marketers because it escalates the whole frantic, running-around-thinking-youâ€™ve-no-time-at-all hysteria, oh dear! oh dear! like the White Rabbit which then has you ping-ponging straight into the arms of the first marketer saying he or sheâ€™ll SAVE YOU TIME!
Plus, I think the present theory of being â€œmore productiveâ€ with your time and all this buzz around â€œproductivityâ€ is just a new spin on the same old save-time crap.
Well, screw â€˜productivityâ€™ and â€˜saving timeâ€™. I wanna live, damn it, and I do not want to be counting the minutes while I do it, (which is why I’ve never worn a watch even when traveling 14,ooo miles on various modes of transport).
How about considering this kind of scenario instead â€“ allocate an hour for something you really enjoy. Say from 3-4pm on Saturday youâ€™re going to do a bit of knitting, dig the garden, draw a picture, make a scrapbook, watch birds, build a matchstick house, repair a machine in your house, clean your tools, read a book, sit in a cafÃ©, whatever – and in fact the more banal the better.
I am amazed at how long, languid and lovely an hour can be when you have set it aside for something in particular. We spent an hour, as instructed, counting our garden birds for the RSPB’s annual bird count. Yes, I know that sounds incredibly boring and I must admit I wasn’t really looking forward to it and suspected I might resort to counting the minutes instead. However, it felt like that pot of gold at the end of the time-rainbow: floating, stolen time.
All we were â€˜allowedâ€™ to do during this one hour period, apart from talking, making notes, doing something together and â€˜beingâ€™ together was watch and count which birds visited our bird feeder – and not miss any. Thatâ€™s all.
It was beautiful, stolen time. It was mindful time. Weirdly, one of the best hours we ever, em, â€˜spentâ€™. And we didnâ€™t even have to save up that time before spending it! We just spent it. See, time is not money. It’s free and it’s all yours.
Image borrowed from Rocio Montoya