Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Time, Money, Productivity, and Life

Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.
Paul J. Meyer
Do you feel guilty when you’re not doing something productive? In this age of time management we can easily adopt the idea that if we are not being productive then we are wasting time. So we try to get super organized in an effort to be more productive.
We could claim our attempts to cram as much as possible into each day is based on the fact that life is short and we want to accomplish all we can. I’m sorry, but that argument just doesn’t hold water. Why? For one thing, it’s our natural tendency to seek out ways to enjoy ourselves, not to push ourselves to the limit.

How do you define time?

How we view the whole concept of time has a powerful influence on our priorities. If we buy into the “Time is money” approach introduced by Benjamin Franklin, then productivity becomes our first priority.
We all recognize that Ben Franklin was a smart guy, but when he said time is money I don’t think he was suggesting that we build our lives around that concept. By the way, he also said that “Credit is money” and we can all see the result of building an economy around that precept.

Putting a price on time

When we accept the idea that time is money we are essentially assigning a monetary value to time. How does that affect our perspective of life? It causes us (and others) to base our worth on how productive we are and how much we earn. This is a devastating point of view for several reasons. Let’s consider a few:
Fallacy #1. If I earn $50 per hour and you earn $500, then I must be worth 90% less than you are. If I accept this premise, then I will probably develop some limiting beliefs about my worth as a person. If you agree with this value scale, then you will begin to think of yourself as superior. Both of these points of view are damaging.
Fallacy #2. A highly paid professional who earns a fortune pumping deadly toxins into the environment will be viewed as more valuable than a dedicated teacher who incites his students to reach for their dreams while maintaining personal integrity. This “time is money” perspective would also place the loving, nurturing mother who gave up her career to take care of her family, on the bottom of the value scale.
Fallacy #3. The working person willingly sacrifices family time for a chance to raise his income because, in doing so, he thinks he will increase his worth as a husband and father. When he comes home too late to see his children in the evening he will sincerely explain, “I’m doing it for you.”

If time is not money then what is it?

In a sense, Ben Franklin had it right when he associated time with currency; he just chose the wrong one. You see, the value of money is tiny compared to the value of time, even though making a living does require that we spend some of our valuable time in that pursuit.
When we spend our valuable time we should view it as something that far exceeds the worth of money. Yes, it takes a certain amount of money to care for our material needs and wants, but that is just one, small aspect of life. And this brings us to the real point of this article.

Time is the currency of life

Some will argue that time is a concept created by man and that it really doesn’t exist. All I can say to that is – what happens to your life when you run out of time? See my point? We only have so much of this valuable commodity and when it’s gone all the money in the world can’t buy you more.
Here’s where a proper view of productivity can help. If our level of productivity allows us to care for our material needs while only spending half as much time doing so, then from a practical standpoint, we have actually gained a lot of time for other pursuits. In fact, isn’t that what’s behind the intellectual draw toward increased productivity? In a nut shell, more money in less time means more time doing what we want.

Keep your balance and avoid the traps

The real challenge here is to use increased productivity in a balanced way so we reap the benefits and avoid the pitfalls. Creating greater earning potential so we can spend more time doing other things will likely require a period of focus and dedication. Once our efforts begin to pay off we need to avoid the following traps.
* Getting obsessed with earning more, more, and still more.
* Allowing super productivity to become an obsession.
* Forgetting why we chose this course to begin with.
* Slipping into the time is money mindset.
* Enslaving ourselves by continually increasing our spending.
* Thinking that more income changes our worth as a person.
* Endlessly trading the currency of life for mere money.

A synergistic approach

In life, there is either synergy, or there is conflict. The secret to avoiding conflict is to harmonize life’s many aspects so that they exist in a balanced and synergistic relationship with one another. What is required to maintain that sense harmonious balance?
We need to keep the big picture in view and not allow ourselves to become hypnotized by the seductive lure of money. Our precious time is the real commodity of life. Recognizing its immense value will help us to spend it wisely.

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