May 7, 2017
Time is not a resource, it’s a constraint
The notion of “spending time” has always bugged me.
I believe that it contributes to—or perhaps derives from—the misconception that “time is money”.
Yes, I understand what “spending time” means and I think that in general it’s a fine way to express what activities you engaged in and when (e.g., “we spent the weekend in Philly”)
But in the context of this list (and breaking the chains of trading time for money), I feel compelled to call out the insidiousness of this little turn of phrase.
Consider this... unlike money or other resources:
- you can’t decide when to use your time
- you can’t decide not to use your time
- you can’t put your time in the bank to use later
- you can’t transfer your time to another person
These are the sorts of things a business would consider doing with resources in order to gain a competitive advantage.
Time is different.
All of your competitors have the same 24 today that you have.
They all have no choice but to “spend” it all today.
It’s more like a constraint than a resource.
The real question with regard to time is, what will you choose to do within the constraint.
Some questions to ask yourself:
- What activities will you engage in today?
- Why are those your chosen activities?
- How do those activities contribute to your long term goals?
- How could you achieve your long term goals more quickly, easily, or successfully?
See the difference? It’s subtle but critical.
IOW - How much time you spend today on your client’s project doesn’t matter. What you achieve today on your client’s project does.
Perhaps it seems like I’m being pedantic. Perhaps it seems like I’m making a distinction without a difference.
But we live in a world where millions of people have been brainwashed into thinking that it’s perfectly reasonable to put a dollar amount on an hour of their time. This line of thinking is like a cancer on your business.
I think it’s worth raising a red flag when I spot an example insinuated so deeply into our culture that it has become enshrined in the very language.
P.S. I’d be curious to know how “spending time” translates in other languages. If you know, please hit reply :)