Caitlin Keat, COO17 July 2020
Over the last few years, I’ve found myself more focused on the concept of time. I don’t know if it’s my aging process or the fact that the older I get more responsibilities I add to my life. And like all of us, the more responsibilities the more packed my days have become. Seeing this happen has left me with the sense that time truly is our most precious commodity. However, it’s one that we don’t prioritize the same way we would say our finances. Identifying needs and wants and balancing those priorities along with time is not something we focus on as a society. From what I’ve seen in myself, my friends, my family, and my coworkers this does us a disservice personally, professionally, and culturally.
Particularly in this country, we focus on action and as a result, I find myself spending more of my time on the have-to-dos than the want-to-dos. I know that my to-do list never ends, I’m adding a new item the moment I cross off an old one, but I still strive to “finish” that list every day. I crash into the end of the day with little energy left for myself and start the same pattern over again the next day. As Alyssa wrote in her discussion on burnout this is a one-way ticket to crispy town. Every day I strive for balance, but I often am sucked in by the deadlines. So why is DOING more important than BEING? How did we get here?
Professionally, you can see this playing out in our country’s pandemic mindset. Initial data has shown an increase in productivity as employees who can begin to telework. Employers are all excited by this, and from a bottom-line perspective that is understandable. This productivity has come with a cost; watching employees lose a sense of time and boundaries. They’re working themselves day and night which is not sustainable. But our business metrics only see the uptick in productivity, which in part occurs because productivity is valued well above that intangible concept of time.
Conversely, in other cases, we’re seeing reductions in the workforce with those businesses that remain open. The sentiment here is revenue is decreasing, and employment must align with that. However, the workload doesn’t always contract at the same rate and those employees that are left are now beyond overloaded.
This is a critical time for you if you are a manager. Regardless of whether your people are virtual or in person, please continue to be mindful of their stress and mental health. More importantly, if your work environment is the opposite of your employees, be even more aware of the message and potential for the dichotomy that difference creates. When possible and safe, make the opportunity to meet them where they are, physically but at the very least connect with them as often as you can.
Big picture time – societally, our lack of attention to our own time has led to a similar lapse in awareness & respect for others’ time. As a country, we are “fine” with paying people a pittance for their time. We are not only robbing these employees of the ability to live beyond paycheck to paycheck, but are devaluing their time, and ultimately relaying the message that their lives are worth as much as the bottom line or top dollar. People are being placed in situations where they have to spend all their waking hours working just to be able to feed themselves and their families and to keep a roof over their heads.
As a nation, we’ve stolen so many people’s ability to have and spend carefree time with those they love, and for parents, given them an additional challenge in their process to help to guide their children into strong, ethical, and mindful adults. Our ability to spend time in learning and growing environment both personally and professionally has been stripped away.
So, how does one attach value to such a priceless commodity? Well, that depends on how an individual defines value and associates with a particular aspect of their lives. Universally our time on this earth is fleeting, each moment precious. There isn’t a monetary recompense when it’s well & truly lost. The real question becomes then, what’s worth more – your time or your money? And this is one that we all have to answer for ourselves.