The Economics of Time
“Time is money, time waits for no man, the right time will come. The emphasis on the importance of time goes without question. Is Time more important than money? Is Time money? You waste time every day but how often do your account for it? What if we viewed time the same way we view money, would society be different? This article aims to investigate and elaborate how time is used and how it is to be used rationally.
Economics is a social science that studies how human beings maximize or optimize scarce resources. Time is a resource, it is not considered as a factor of production but it is vital to the changes in output. As the decades have gone by the world has become more concerned by how we consume and use our time. This is evident by how in different sectors of our lives efforts have been made to make life easier. The question arises, how are people using the extra time that they have. Is worrying about wasting time equivalent to wasting time? let’s argue!
Others argue that time is abstract and not necessarily real. However, that’s a debate for another day. Others argue that the majority of the population in our civilization pays too much attention to producing output other than enjoying ourselves or being healthy. Perhaps society has misplaced priorities and we always that if we not working or making then we are wasting time but what if time enjoyed is more enriching to our mental and spiritual health. How would we view time if we knew the definitions of time wasting and time optimization?
We would take it seriously; we would view it the same way we view money or output. We can follow the IPLC formula. The IPLC formula is easy, we basically classify activities into four categories. These are priority (P), Important (I), later (L) and C (cancelled). When an individual knows what a priority is, what is important, what can be done later and what can be done later and what can be cancelled. This helps when planning a day because you are able to maximize the day and achieve optimum productivity.
Priority- As earlier alluded to time is a scare resource. According to the English dictionary a priority is defined as something that is very important and must be dealt with before other things. If you wish to be productive then you must make sure that priorities are taken care of. As humans we are conditioned to prioritize what we feel is important to us e.g. an individual can prioritize spending time with family because they feel family time is valuable and contributes a lot to emotional health. On the other hand, if someone feels that getting ahead in their career is a priority then they will probably work late or not take the weekend off. Priorities change from time to time according to what is going on in someone’s life. For example, for a student with a crucial exam in two days their priority at that time will be to make sure they study every day before they do anything else. On the other hand, an individual who has gotten into a new romantic relationship may consider talking to his girlfriend before going to work a priority. Once you have established what your priorities are and have done them. You can focus on what is important.
Important- Something that is important is simply defined as something marked by or indicative of significant worth or consequence (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary). It is very vital to make sure that time is spent doing that are important. However, we need to understand that not all important things are priorities but all priorities are important. Just because something is important does not necessarily mean that is a priority. For example, let’s s suppose you want to get groceries and at the same time you would like to catch up with an old friend. Clearly visiting an old friend and catching up is important however it is not priority. Making sure that you have your groceries are bought and in check is a priority because you need food, toiletries and kitchen utensils to survive and live comfortably. So when coming up with a to do list you need to establish what is a priority and then what is important then you can look what you can do later and what can be cancelled. So once you do the priorities then now you can focus on what is important.
Later and Cancelled: Programs for later are simply things that you would like to do but maybe they can wait for later. It is very important to distinguish what is a priority, what can be done later. The common mistakes that we make when planning our day to day activities is that we often misclassify activities that can be done later as priorities. For example, one might want to go have a drink with the boys meanwhile they have an assignment due. The assignment is a priority and the drink with the boys can be done later.
Cancelled programs are those that are suspended or aborted due to lack of time or simply because they are just not that valuable. A program can be cancelled because a more important program has come up or because an individual just feels that it is not an urgent matter. It’s very important to know that every day only has 24hours therefore due to the scarcity of time some programs inevitably always end up being cancelled.
In conclusion, Time is not money. Time is greater than money because it is a resource that is scarcer than money yet it is we take for granted each and every day. If money is wasted it can be made again or worked for again but once time is wasted, then is gone for good. This entails that we have spent our time wisely by focusing on what is important and keeping in mind that time is a significant and vital resource. However, this does not mean that we should be stoics and we should not enjoy ourselves and relax. All work, no play makes Jack a dull boy. So the same way we spend our money, the same way we aim to be prudent with our resources, the same way we try our best not to waste any money that should be the same way we are cautious with our time. Others might even suggest that we should even more cautious with our money. Either way, we are remained that wasting time is detrimental not only in the present but also in the future. The next time you notice yourself wasting time just remember what is a priority, what is important, what can be later and what should be cancelled.