May 5, 2015 Joel Goobich

How Business Runs on Time

The concept and measurement of time is a uniquely human experience. And it has taken over the world of business. Time management is now an essential business skill.

However, nature has its own clock, powered by the rotation of the earth on its axis and around the sun. Flowers bloom, leaves fall off the trees in autumn, bears go into hibernation. Football season blends into basketball season blends into baseball season and starts the cycle all over again. And alas – yet again the city of Cleveland is left to see time expire on another championship quest.

Business is obsessed with time. More specifically with the measurement of time. Animals aren’t. Yes they have a ‘biological’ clock, but they don’t get uptight if the internet connection is slow, email is taking forever to download or people show up late for the weekly management meeting.

The World of Business Runs on Time
In our fast paced work of business, we don’t have the time to wait. In business we feel the necessity to harness time. We have to manage it. We have to make it work for us. Granted, without a constant awareness or even a measurement of time, many businesses could not function. Subway trains, airlines – anything dependent on a fixed schedule. salivdordalit

On a micro level the measurement of time is crucial and important in so many aspects of business technology and those modern processes that we live by. But on a macro level, are we better off? Does business actually run better the more we obsess over time?

Time is to business like water is to California. A finite commodity that needs to be used effectively.

Is that the reason that we are wired in all the time, forever multi tasking? Or has the technology we’ve developed just added another reason or method to squeeze an extra something out of our day? Heaven forbid that we don’t cram an extra tweet, Facebook post or message into our day.

Does Efficiency always mean Good Business?
Now, efficiency, which is just a shorter way of saying ‘good use of time’ is critical for proper use of business assets. But it’s not the entire picture. Being a slave to the almighty clock is no panacea for good business. It will often lead to greater errors in judgement, a reduction in quality, poor employee morale and a host of other problems that eventually lead to reduced profits. Time puts a premium on quantity over quality.

It reminds me of the famous I Love Lucy scene at the candy factory. The bosses wanted more throughput in less time. The results were not pretty.


It’s common knowledge that we experience time in different manners. How often have you felt that a business meeting is just dragging on forever? How often have you said to yourself at work – “When will this day ever end?”?

or other times, we can’t understand how quickly time has passed by. “Gosh – where did the day go??

Time is elastic, like the famous Salivador Dali painting, and we all feel it differently. Which is an important concept to grasp, especially when managing for time.

We need to understand that we are humans, not machines. Our bodies and minds need to refresh. That’s why it’s important to ‘disconnect’ throughout the day and not always be bowing down at the alter of Time Management.

Making time more elastic gives us the power to think better, work better and be more efficient.

Courtney Seiter summed it up nicely in her blog – “The Science of Taking Breaks at Work” . Andrew Rosen also explains it in “The Importance of Taking a Break at Work“.

And Rhett Power wrote about not being a workaholic in a recent article in Inc. Magazine – “5 Reasons Why You Need to Take a Break

What to Do About Time?
Since we surround ourselves with the measurement of Time it is almost impossible to escape it. We have time clocks available on our cell phones, computers, TV, Car. Radio and TV stations give us the news on the hour, the half hour or even more often. And now wearables are the next big thing.

We can get away from this mental addiction. It’s not a physical addiction, like coffee and caffeine. It’s difficult, but not impossible to change habits. And I promise it will make you happier – and more efficient.

I’m not suggesting to live in a cave or dungeon with only artificial light. But, imagine not looking at a clock for 24 hours. Do you think you could do it?

Start small – don’t take your phone with your everywhere. Or if you wear a watch, leave it at your desk or home for a day. Try to reduce the number of times you ‘peak’ at the clock on your computer screen or on your car dashboard. You’ll quickly find out that your body will adapt and you’ll actually feel the time of day intuitively.

Or as Salvador Dali so insightfully showed us – time is elastic. Just go with the flow.
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