“Time is money.”  “Don’t waste my time.” “Time is precious.”  “Make good use of time.”  “Time is the greatest healer.” Et cetera, et cetera. Time is a much bandied about subject; has always been one. The truth, as far as I am concerned, is that time is meaningless in today’s world.

It is now more about how to be effective than about being efficient, and in this, time plays but a small role. This is something I have always believed in, especially after seeing how government employees routinely ask you to come the next day, or the next week, or the next month, for even small matters, even if you are in their office early in the morning. It’s not that they don’t punch in and out at the given hours; they are efficient in this all right! It’s simply that they aren’t going to go out of their way to oblige you with speedy service. Needless to say, some greasing of the palm, or some reference from some higher-ups, can make them more effective.

Anyway, that’s just a fact of life we have been living with for a long time, and will in all probability have to do for quite some more time.Habits die hard. Let’s, instead, delve into the effects of the times on time. With the advent of modern machines, computers, and fast communication technology, one can no more say that one doesn’t have enough time. Modern machines can manufacture months’ of stocks in a single day, computers allow you to finish calculations, analyses, and reports in a single hour, and fast communication means you can touch base with all concerned within seconds.

All this means you have a lot of time on your hands that you don’t know what to do with. For the effective worker, the office becomes a virtual prison, where you still have to clock the hours even if you have finished all there is to do. For factory workers, it’s now more about cleaning duties and such, and the hours become excruciatingly long. As far as big business is concerned, producers are always desperately seeking new markets, for the stocks just keep piling up rapidly, and so large populations (once a curse) are a blessing today. Here, too, time (once always in shortage) is the least of their problems.

So, what to do with all this time on your hands? You can only do so much with free time, even if not at work (where, anyway, you better not get caught surfing the net too often). Time is money, indeed, but in quite the opposite way now. Free time means increased expenses; you got to do something to pass time, and that incurs costs. Passing time is a difficult endeavor, and this is all the more understandable when you realize that the most difficult thing for any person to do is to do nothing. We weren’t meant to stand still, our configuration demands that we keep busy with something or the other.

And, we were pretty busy, weren’t we, during the stone-, medieval-, agrarian-, and industrial-age?The extreme busy-ness of everyday life meant you were ready to hit the sack the moment the sun dipped below the horizon, and the new dawn brought forward another day of never-ending demands on your strength, wits, and time. But now, with the world at your fingertips and everything happening online, that too at 4G and 5G speeds, it is time that seems to be never-ending. With so much happening so fast, it is to be expected that we find it hard to update ourselves with this new world. Thus, schools still continue with a routine designed for older times, when good memory was the number one intellectual quality in a student and classes dragged on interminably  hour after hour in a ritual of rote and repetition.

The workplaces, too, continue to function in the very same way they have been doing for ages. Everybody’s uncomfortable with change, so can’t blame anybody;nevertheless, how long can you resist it? Perhaps the time has come to assess the effect of the times on our time, and hopefully begin designing new schedules.