Two kinds of time

Sent by Jonathan Stark on February 23rd, 2020

Sometimes we eat delivery pizza. Sometimes we eat take out pizza. Sometimes we even eat frozen pizza.

But tonight?

Tonight we ate homemade pizza. Deep dish, cast iron, “King Arthur Recipe of the Year” homemade pizza. And it was goooooood.

The homemade pizza in question took 72 hours to make. Well, not exactly… it took about 2 hours of labor and 70 hours of waiting. The vast majority of the process was taken up with steps like:

You can’t ignore the waiting steps. You can’t compress them. They matter. You have to respect the time it takes for the dough to rise and the oven to heat up and the pizza to cool.

But you don’t have to stare at the dang thing the whole time!

You can do other stuff while you’re waiting.

So…

Did it take 72 hours to make this pizza?

Yes, BUT...

...it didn’t take 72 hours of our time.

Here’s the thing…

When folks talk about “how long something is going to take” there are two kinds of time. I don’t have great terminology for this, but I tend to call them “clock time” (i.e., timeclock) and “calendar time”.

If in a project proposal situation, your prospective client asked, “Okay, well… how long is this going to take?” would you know which kind of time are they asking about?

They MIGHT be asking you how many hours you think you’re going to spend on the project (i.e., clock time).

OR they might be asking you what you think the completion date will be (i.e., calendar time).

These are two very different questions, and as such, they should elicit two very different kinds of answers. The former probably is a price objection. The latter probably isn’t.

It could be fairly damaging to answer the wrong question. My advice would be to clarify which kind of time they are asking about before providing an answer.

Yours,

—J