Time Perception and the Effect on Business

time quote anthony g oettinger

When discussing something as subjective as time perception, it’s good practice to consider a variety of angles and circumstances, specifically those that effect business.

We use time to organize our lives, measure our lives, and create our lives.

Some people use time as efficiently as they are physically capable of to reach their goals, as if it was race. Others detach themselves from the grips of time and allow their goals to form by nature.

In any case, our perceptions of time can be instrumental in determining the success and mantras of our business.

There are two majority ways to perceive time:

  1. Time can be “wasted” (something lost or earned)
  2. Time is an “experience” (something neutral, unchanging)

Time Perception #1 –  time can be “wasted”

This perception assumes the following:

  • time is higher than us
  • time controls us
  • we plan our lives according to time
  • time can be spent, wasted, used but never earned
    • if you’re late you are valued less

I presented this topic on Quora and got a response from Leonid S. Knyshov, a social media product developer, who fits right into the first category. Leonid affirms that time can be “wasted” and clearly describes how time impacts his business and relationships. He tells:

“I have 24 hours in a day. I’d prefer to sleep at least 10 of them. That leaves me with 14 productive hours.

Time is a precious resource and not using it correctly is wasteful. At the same time, not taking enough time off for unproductive things leads to being burned out.

When talking to customers, I never exceed the time they allocated. I ask for an informal extension of time when appropriate before the meeting’s expiration time approaches.

Being late to meetings means I am disrespecting someone. I strive to not do that. When late due to circumstances exceeding foreseeable estimates, I provide updated ETA.

As I am a trained public speaker, I can express myself much faster and more clearly than most people.”

This seems to be the mantra of many successful business minded workers. It’s hard to even imagine a product/biz guru like Bill Gates ignoring the pressures of time during the initial development of Microsoft.

It seems the second category of time perception is the lesser.

What is the context of perceiving time in such as nonchalant, existential fashion?

Time Perception #2 – time is an “experience”

This perception assumes the following:

  • we are higher than time
  • we can “create” time
  • our lives are separate from time
  • the unique rhythm of our lives is more important than the concrete motion of time
    • if you’re late you are still valued the  same – you’re only seen as “now arriving” not “late”

Another fellow Quora member, Subramanyam Pidaparthy, suggests:

Time available any time for any body without any reservations – without any preferences. People say time is running away – No, it is moving with same speed for ages – you have delayed so you feel it is running away.

Time stopped still – some creative writer say – it is moving – your thoughts stopped thinking further for that moment…However may be the urgency – give time its chance to tell us what is wrong and what is correct.

Although Subramanyam does not have the “best” English, we can still understand the points and messages. In fact, I’ve found Subramanyam’s voice to be exceptionally more real than many of the daily articles I read.

He suggests that by experiencing time, we can conclude better decisions. Those who perceive time in the 1st way assume decisions must be swiftly. We can safely agree there are times where business critical decisions require us to perceive time the 1st way. Vice a versa, there are situations where letting time navigate our business decisions results in unfavorable outcomes.

Time perception is a tricky subject. There is no optimal way to perceive time and some suggest our perception is naturally ingrained.

Others would argue we can develop and cement the perceptions of time we desire. In this regard, we are shaping our respective realities to function according to our perception.

Lastly, this quote from Eric Roth, author of Benjamin Button screenplay, felt like a great way to leave off at what is definitely an open and evergreen discussion.

time quote eric roth




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Jesse Aaron

I'm a blogger, homebrewer, and community manager. Aside from writing, I have a passion for music and design.

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