Yet, perverse as it may sound, 24 hours in a day is not enough time for many people who work in industrialised economies. Lack of time rather than lack of money is an increasingly common complaint amongst the 100,000 million people who earn $20,000 or more annually.
The phrase ‘time poor’ has become familiar and topical in western society. To emphasise its relevance, the film ‘In Time’ was released in 2011. In the movie, which stars Justin Timberlake, time replaces money as the unit of currency. Run out of time and you die.
Doug Richards offers £1 million
Whilst thought provoking, the film also reminded me of a story told by ex Dragon ‘Doug Richards’ at a seminar I recently attended. Mr Richards explained how he happily agreed to give someone a million pounds; but on one condition! The recipient would give Doug 10 years of his life. The Merchant of Venice is alive and well. But seriously, the points demonstrate that time is precious and indicators suggest its value, like gold, will continue to rise. Therefore we should use time wisely. So how is this achieved especially if you want to start and grow a business?
There’s a saying, ‘If you want something done, ask a busy person’. For me, there’s truth here. Entrepreneurs are busy people with little spare time, yet somehow they get much done.
On his Blog ‘Entrepreneurs-Journey.com‘, Aziz Ali offers productivity tips for the time-poor entrepreneur. The article talks about prioritising, using lists and arranging thoughts on folded paper. Mr Ali’s points are not groundbreaking but they make sense; however, you need to be very disciplined and organised to profit from his reasoning and I’m not sure that many entrepreneurs necessarily ‘think’ this way.
One of the joys of self-employment is the freedom of choice. Unlike other working worlds, people don’t tell you what to do and when to do it. This luxury has important implications for time use. For example, I travel to London a lot but unlike most commuters I don’t have to be at a desk by 9am. Therefore the train I typically catch leaves Yorkshire just after 7.30am and arrives before 10am. My carriage is near empty when I board and thus the coffee (trolley service) is sipped & slurped with a smile. I forget how many times my wireless connected laptop has worked for the entire journey, on a table all to myself.
And when London bound last month, the ensuing Tube journey to Aldgate was slick and also void of people. To top it all, it wasn’t difficult getting the best seat, much needed good coffee and free Wi-Fi in the capital’s highly recommended Alchemist Bar and Restaurant on Houndsditch.
Fittingly, it was whilst sitting in the peace of the Alchemist Bar that I first recognised the patterns and started to mix together the elements that formed this article.
It’s a Cosine!
In a recent HHGE article I wrote about ‘The Physics of Entrepreneurship’ and specifically the value and relevance of the formula: Momentum = Mass * Velocity. Sat in that bar I started to sense that entrepreneurship might have another link; this time with mathematics. And later that same day when sharing ideas, my friend Andre Mostert immediately latched onto the synergies with the Sine and Cosine graphs.
The diagram below shows the graph of the Sine and Cosine functions. The accompanying text explains their relevance.
Andre highlighted that mainstream life (rush hours etc.) is represented by the red Sine curve which is the very popular yet hugely congested ‘rat-race’ line. This video shows exactly why I seek to avoid it.
The blue Cosine curve exists as an alternative rhythm in a slightly later time-space. Free from the shackles of convention, the entrepreneur is able to take advantage and ‘surf this wave’ much like I did (and do) on my London trips. As a result, time is used in a much more productive and enjoyable manner.
Hitchhiking can also be looked at as an alternative rhythm. Crowded bus stops and train stations are mainstream functions; the hitchhiker travels independently along a very different yet largely parallel route.
Profiting from Time
The luxury of choice actually empowers people who run businesses to make the most of their time. This freedom means there is time to think, learn and discover better ways to do stuff. Here are just 5 of the very best things I have discovered and learnt from as a result of having more time:
- The TED website – Expert speakers & brilliant presentations. All Free!
- Springwise – Get your daily fix of highly innovative and entrepreneurial ideas.
- Five people & one Guitar – phenomenal teamwork & uplifting entertainment
- Go Self Employed – Be inspired by leading author Steve Strauss
- Twig – Entrepreneurs create free Science Films to educate & inspire anyone
Having more time meant I was also fortunate enough to attend the World Entrepreneurship Forum which took place in Singapore in 2011. At the event I met many inspirational people with vast experience and a wide variety of perspectives, but who shared a common desire to use entrepreneurship as a driver to solve global problems. This year the same event is in Lyon at the end of October and my ticket is already booked.
We may feel increasingly short of time but with careful thought we can solve many of these problems for ourselves as well as others. What is far more significant is how we explain and find answers to the fact that 4 billion people live on less than $2 a day…
As ever, feedback and thought about the points raised in this article are very much welcomed. How does the socially conscious entrepreneur use his/her time to best effect?
Key Learning Points: Use smart thinking to avoid the congested mainstream and make the most of your time. Freedom to think and being able to continually learn ultimately gives you time to help solve much bigger problems.