Matt and I were talking recently and he mentioned that he wanted to become more efficient in 2018 and to save time wherever possible.
‘How much time are you hoping to save?’ I asked.
‘Not sure. Just looking to shave off a few minutes here and there. Maybe try to save 10 minutes of every hour,’ he replied.
‘What are you planning on doing with those extra 10 minutes an hour?’ I asked.
‘Not sure – just thought it would be a good idea to have more time. Now you ask though, I suppose having more time is a bit pointless unless I’m going to make use of it. I need to go away and think it through.’
When we save money, we often have a specific item for which we are saving – a holiday, a car, a wedding, a deposit for a house. Knowing the figure we aiming for means we know when we’ve achieved our goal. We know when it’s enough. Saving time is similar – if we know how we would like to spend that time, we know how much time we’d need. If there’s nothing specific for which we’d use that time, do we need to save it at all?
Simon Garfield’s 2016 book ‘Timekeepers: how the world became obsessed with time‘ opens with a story about a holiday in Egypt:
We are … sitting at a restaurant above a beach near Alexandria, and at one end of the beach we can see a local fisherman catching something tasty for dinner: a nice red mullet perhaps.
We are on holiday after a punishing year. After our meal we stroll towards the fisherman. He speaks a little English. He shows us his catch – not much yet, but he’s hopeful. Because we know a little about fishing and opportunity, we suggest he might move to that rock over there, just a little further out, a higher cast than his present position on his old folding stool, and a greater chance of hooking his daily haul of fish much faster.
‘Why would I want to do that?’ he asks.
We say that with greater speed he could spend the same amount of time hooking more fish, so that he could not only have enough for his dinner, but sell the surplus at the market, and with the proceeds he could buy a better rod and a new icebox for his catch.
‘Why would I want to do that?’
So that you can catch even more fish at greater speed, and then sell those fish, and swiftly earn enough to buy a boat, which means deeper seas and still more fish in record time with those big nets they use on trawlers. In fact, he could soon become a successful trawler himself, and people would start calling him Captain.
‘Why would I want that?’ he asks smugly, annoyingly.
We are of the modern world, attuned to ambition and the merits of alacrity, and so we advance our case with growing impatience. If you had a boat, your haul would soon be of such size that you would be a kingpin at the market, be able to set your own prices, buy more boats, hire a workforce and then, fulfilling the ultimate dream, retire before your time, travel the world in luxury, and spend your time sitting in the sun fishing.
‘A bit like I do now?’
Today’s pebble for you to ponder is this: if your goal is to save time, are you clear on what you saving it for?
Turning over pebbles is the blog of Thinking Space Coaching.
If you’re ready to transform your work or your life, why not email me to see how we can work together?