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Time is money?

How fitting that the phrase 'Time is money' is attributed to Benjamin Franklin, the great critic of wastefulness in any shape or form!

Long before the 24/7 cycle of the globalised world, he satirised the way people would sleep during the day, squandering free natural light, just to pay for its artificial equivalent at night time.

His letter to Journal de Paris, in the 1780s, is probably one of the most quoted texts in the history of Daylight Saving Time .

In  'Advice to a Young Tradesman, Written by an Old One', Benjamin Franklin writes about the relationship between time and money with the elegance of a mathematician solving a complicated problem in just a couple of equations.

We live under the illusion that by doing very little and spending very little too, we save money. In reality we lose the money that we could have earned through our actions. Savings nil, earnings minus.

Better work hard and spend little, something to aim for and hard to achieve. But that advice came from a champion of frugality, after all.

What Franklin does not talk about is the exchange rate between time and money.

Sometimes, in various areas of our life, we have to spend some money if we need or want to save time.  Money – or getting it – is time-consuming, but time is the stronger currency by the looks of it.

The most banal example: going on holiday, we take a high-speed train instead of a slow one; we choose to book a flight instead of travelling by bus, because a shorter and more expensive journey means more  enjoyable time spent at the destination.

The English language uses the same words to express the loss of  time and money, 'spending' and  being afraid of 'wasting' them. More often than not, we can't avoid doing either.

We still try to fight back, hence the plethora of time-management books, podcasts, online advice.

In the coming weeks, we'll take a closer look at what all of these attempts at seizing the moment actually achieve.




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