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You Have Heard It Said 8: Time and Money


Issue 157

If you provide a service to anyone you may well have to quote or at least know the cost of what you provide. Perhaps you will divide your costs into materials and labour. The labour will consist of the time you or someone else will have to contribute to deliver the service.

Some professionals now charge per 6 minutes. Each hour is divided into 10 and it is possible to ‘sell’ those deliverable minutes.

When it comes to efficiency and savings, reducing the time involved in any task is seen as vital to the economics of the organisation.

Behind these and a number of other scenarios is the concept that ‘time is money’. Save time and you save money; waste time and you waste money; sell time and you make money. It has recently been estimated that it costs on average £1.5 million to live for 70 years on the earth.* So now we have everything costed out and time is money.

There are some unfortunate spin offs from this. GPs in a drive for efficiency cannot afford home visits or even more than a few minutes with a patient. Companies are replacing staff with automated phone systems because time is money. Some people are wary of getting vital repairs done because time is money and costs have soared.

The ‘time is money’ concept drives many business and professional decisions today, providing an obviously important motivation for efficiency and justification for many working practices.

But who says ‘time is money’? How did we come to reduce human life to such an equation? When I end my life, how will they measure it, in years or pounds? What will they write on your gravestone, words or a spreadsheet?

The folly of living by a ‘time is money’ creed is that soon we come to see life as money. So how much money do you lose if you go for a walk with your daughter? How much does it cost in billable minutes to listen to your son? Why is some people’s time so much more valuable than others, when a footballer can earn in a week what it takes someone else a year to earn?

“A person’s life”, according to Jesus, “does not consist of the things that they own”. Time is not reducible to money. Life is much more complex, valuable and rich than this and some of our decision-making today has reduced people to prices and humanity to a commodity. It may be worth spending some time challenging this concept over lunch with a colleague. I would suggest that time is not merely money. It does not compute.

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Series: Heard Said
Module: 3
Season: -
Daily Guide: No

Tags: currency, money, people, perspective, time, value

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Geoff Shattock

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