Redeeming the Time


I recently found myself giving time management advice. During this discussion the phrase, "reducing wasted time, redeeming necessary time" came up. I think this encapsulates the two main methods for increasing productivity. Some time syncs are simply wasteful while others are necessary and yet unproductive. In order to increase productivity wasted time needs to be reduced while necessary time syncs need to be redeemed.

However what is wasted time, or for that matter unredeemed time? Firstly, it assumes a goal. If time is wasted then there is an implicit assumption that it failed to do something. So in order for the concept of wasted time to be meaningful we need to have a plan, process, or goal that we are striving towards. When unplanned and unaccounted for interruptions break into those efforts, we can count that time as being wasted. However let's come down out of the theoretical clouds and talk about it with concrete examples.

The easiest example of wasted time are addictive phone apps; infinite scroll through Facebook or YouTube anyone? It truly is infinite, I can promise you that much (although I have not been able to prove that yet... but am surely coming close). Generally speaking we do not "plan" on scrolling through social media, or some other form of app, for an hour after dinner, or before leaving the gym, or where ever else we do this. Most often this is time unplanned for, unaccounted for, unproductive, dragging us off course, and preventing us from reaching our goals. While it is not in the scope of my thoughts here to give detailed advice on how to overcome this specific example, the point remains clear. In order to be productive we must actively put measures in place to reduce wasted time.

What is redeemed time? The word, "redeem" is not often in our vocabulary, so let's at least see what Old Webster has to say. It lists many definitions, however two that particularly stands out are, "to get or win back" and "to make worthwhile". These two definitions are a perfect marriage for our phrase, "redeem the time". The former assumes that something has been taken, and calls us to action to win it back. The second assumes that while necessary, it is not worthwhile unless we make it so. I have drifted into the stratosphere again, so let's parachute back down and stick the landing on the good ol' concrete.

Say you are driving to work, to the gym, to the in law's, or whatever else has you in your car. Did you plan this time? Or is it sitting there waiting for you to win it back and make it worthwhile? Sure, the destination might be worthwhile, but the time spent in the car, in and of itself without considering the destination, is it worthwhile? Or does it need won back? To do this we could have a podcast play list lined up; something we planned for, something we intentionally decided ahead of time that would be worth our time, not whatever addictive suggestion in the feed has lined up next. You must decide in advance what is worth your time so that you can redeem it.

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