When Time is Not Like Money
Time is money, so the saying goes; except when it isn't. Time and money are both highly desired. But money doesn't lose its value when divided, whereas time is arguably less beneficial when broken up into smaller periods.
$1 million kept in a bank has the same value as $100,000 held in 10 different banks (FDIC insurance aside). On the other hand, we tend to treasure an hour's worth of uninterrupted leisure more than six, separate moments lasting 10 minutes each.
The concept of fragments of leisure time has been called "time confetti" by Ashley Williams, an assistant professor at the Harvard Business School. Williams points her finger at technology as the culprit. The tools that keep us connected and efficient also impose upon our free time in ways we don't always think about.
Williams asks us to consider, for example, an hour that we have to ourselves during which we check and respond to emails, Twitter, Slack and texts. The time spent on each task may be relatively minor, but the overall invasive effect is huge -- "the hour of leisure becomes several smaller chunks, sometimes only five or six minutes long."
This should not be considered a rant against the evils of technology. It has enabled us to enjoy incredible productivity as well as take some control over when and how long we work. Just look at how many of us were able to adjust to the new reality that the pandemic imposed. We should be cognizant, nonetheless, of the toll that "always being on" takes on us.
By the way, reading this newsletter counts as a productive use of your time.