The Value of Time and the Economy

I’m not as negative about the next year as others are. Many people in the know are saying 2009 is going to be dismal. I don’t think it will be good, but I think it is going to be poor for 6 months and then flat for 3 and then starting to pick up for another 3. I was signaling a coming recession in 2007 by looking at wage levels against debt levels. I didn’t see a credit situation arising, but I did know that the consumption rate was out of whack. And now I don’t see all the possible worst case scenarios coming to fruition either. The reason is time. Time is a good balance to the economy now. The hyper connectivity and resource allocation system that is in place now allows for anyone with money making ideas to act on them in a relatively fast manner. Time is more valuable now than it ever was. Does it make sense that time is currency?

Anyway, I ran across a good piece in the NY Times about inefficient meetings called Meetings Are a Matter of Precious Time by Reid Hastie. There is a profitable niche market in this area and some quirky book or training always breakthrough as winners. Here are some excerpts I like:

The main reason we don’t make meetings more productive is that we
don’t value our time properly. The people who call meetings and those
who attend them are not thinking about time as their most valuable
resource.

In business, we like to convert time to money, and the
reverse. But in practice, time and money are different. We can get more
money, save it, move it between accounts and use it on demand. These
operations don’t apply easily to time.

Time is the most
perishable good in the world, and it is not replenishable. You can’t
earn an extra hour to use on a busy day. Nonetheless, we usually have a
vague feeling that there is plenty of time — somewhere in the future —
so we waste it now and carelessly steal time from our families, friends
or ourselves when we come up short at the end of a workday and need to
stay an extra hour.

Probably most important, we are blind to
lost time opportunities. When we choose where to invest our time, as
opposed to where to invest money, we are more likely to neglect what
else we could have done with it.

After productive or unproductive meetings, assign credit or blame to the person in charge.

Then, if people have track records of leading ineffective meetings,
don’t let them lead future sessions. When their expertise is essential,
make them subordinate to an effective meeting leader.

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