I’ve skimmed through a book recently called “The time paradox
”, by Philip Zimbardo and John Boyd. It’s about how we perceive time and how that affects our behaviour in the present. To be honest, I didn’t find it particularly revealing but it sparked a related idea in my head. Here it goes: If you think how we spend our money today, what are the things we buy, I reckon they fall into one of the following two categories:
– things that save us time
– things that allow us to enjoy time
This might seem unintuitive and incomplete at first, but let me elaborate. Time today is a scarce resource. Everyone complains that they don’t have enough of it to do all things they need or want to. But we have money. In fact, we invest time from our lives working in our jobs under the premise that this investment will pay for the things we need. That is to say, that the time invested will give us money with which we could buy better things than the ones we could have done ourselves in the same period. Take your home for instance. You could go ahead and build one yourself. But that will take longer and be less efficient than buying one that someone else has done. And of course the nicer the house is, the more we can enjoy the time we spend in it. So the second category includes the things we buy that makes us happier, which is a consequence of enjoying time, either present or future.
Then there are the things we buy so we actually have some more time available to us. And the reasons can be different for different people. Some prefer to have more time for themselves as they are more of a hedonist type. Some others prefer to do more things in the same period of time because that gives them a sense of fulfilment in their lives. Whatever the reason is, we do prefer when things can be done faster, particularly the things that we don’t enjoy doing much. If the previous category can be seen as the “hedonist” spending, this one can be seen as the “utilitarian”. Think about the likes of a car to get to work quicker and avoid public transportation, or the many home tools that help you perform daily tasks faster, or services like Amazon which save you the time to go shopping, park the car, etc.
So, now that I’ve realised of this classification, here is how I see can be used: next time I find myself deciding between items to buy, maybe I’ll throw in the concept of how much time each one can save me. Or how much more I will enjoy my spare time if I choose one over another. Or even I might wonder how much I need that thing thinking about the price vs. the time it buys me. Nevertheless, it will be another dimension to add to the shopping decision.
And then, as a seller, as someone who works in sales, I’ll try to reflect on the benefits that a customer can get from a time perspective if she decides to purchase my offering. I’ll try to describe how much more she will enjoy or how much more time she will get compared to the competition. And this should matter a lot, because time is the only resource that, even if unused, you’ll always run out of.