I view time as a commodity. Sure, that’s easy to say when you compare to how time is valued by various others: employers place a dollar value on what an employee’s time of work is worth to them; UPS and FedEx charge not based on how far a package has to travel, but how quickly it gets to its destination; cellular companies charge based on how many minutes of service you use; etc.
But to me, it’s a little more than that and a little more complicated. While money is finite (and, my bank account will surely attest to that), I can make more money. I can liquidate assets, work a second job to earn more money if needed, or a myriad of other ways to increase money that comes in every month. On the flip side of the money equation, I can change behaviors to save more each month and control the flow of money out of my bank account. I could choose to end a Netflix subscription, or take leftovers for lunch instead of eating out, or keep using an older cell phone for longer to postpone the expense of purchasing a new one.
Time isn’t the same, unfortunately. I can’t save or bank time. I can’t make more time in any given day, either. There are 1,440 minutes in each day, and nothing I do can change that. I can only spend time. Where and how I spend that time each day should be of value to me.
Granted, none of this is any great epiphany. I know time has value, and we’re only here for a brief moment. But I find that I constantly need to work on the value of my time… where I spend my time is where I spend my attention.
So many companies develop their software or services or devices to entice you to spend more time with them. This increases their market share and/or profits. Colloquially, it’s the premise of getting their hooks into us. Think about how you go to view one video on YouTube, and end up spending far more time there than anticipated because of Related Videos or the service auto-playing another similar video. Netflix defaults to playing the next show of a series as soon as the current one finishes playing. Apps on smartphones have an endless stream of notifications to pull you back into the program.
We shouldn’t relinquish our control of time to a company or a service or a program or a box of silicon chips. We need to seize control of how and where and why we spend our time. I write “we,” as I think we would all benefit from wrestling a large degree of control back from various for-profit companies these days (where we spend our time, our money, and our consent of data collection…). But I write this post mostly as a reminder to myself more than anything.
What are your thoughts? Do you think you might have more ‘free time’ or ‘me time’ if you were more cognizant of actively taking control of your attention? Or, do you think it’s just a by-product of the digital age? Or, something completely different? Sound off in the Comments section below, and thanks for reading.
Featured image used under Creative Commons license from Pixabay.