I have been wondering about the benefits of saving time over the past week. Time continues to be an important issue for me and, I believe, an important issue to keep front of mind for our community.
I recently had a wonderful conversation with a faculty member about design. We discussed the idea that a goal of design and of designers is to improve the quality of life, whether it be physically or through experience. In speaking about this, we mused about time and how certain products and services are designed to save us time. The faculty member said, “Saving time: how good is that for us?” While we both agreed that saving time can be beneficial, we also acknowledged that in constantly working hard to save time, we might just be contributing to the increased sense of busyness that appears to be felt by many both within and outside our community.
Have we, in saving more time, used it to do more rather than to pause, engage in conversation, and connect with each other?
After this conversation, I was out in the neighbourhood doing a few errands. As I entered a store, a sales person rushed out with a transaction receipt just as a person pulled their car up on Yonge Street. The driver thanked her profusely, signed the bill, gathered the purchases, and drove off. Upon the sales person’s return to the store, I commended them on their attention to customer service, but then wondered aloud about the need of people to get things right away with little extra time.
I am well aware that this was just one instance, and that each situation is unique. My business / service lens understands that efficiencies can and do drive profit, but what about well-being and connectedness? In affording quick and efficient transactions with little to no face-to-face connection, are we helping or hindering our well-being?
I do not believe that this is an easy question to answer, but I do think we should consider that “time well-spent” should include time for pausing, reflection and face-to-face connection just as much, if not more, than adding to one’s to-do list.