Full transcript of behavioral scientist Dr. Selin Malkoc’s TEDx Talk: You Maximized Your Time, But Are You Enjoying It? at TEDxYearlingRoad conference.
NOTABLE QUOTE FROM THIS TALK:
“Next time you feel like you think about the time you have as a resource to be maximized, push that into the back of your head. Try to reframe it as the medium through which you live and see whether it makes a difference.”
Dr. Selin Malkoc – Assistant Marketing Professor at Ohio State University
Today I want to challenge the way you think about and use your time.
I hope that at the end of the 15 minutes you’ll walk out of here with some new perspectives that you can take with you as you go about your life.
Before we get there, though, let me start by asking a very basic question: What is time?
Okay. I’m not really going to give you a second to think about it.
WHAT IS TIME?
If you’re like most people, you’re realizing that this is surprisingly difficult question, and it shouldn’t be.
We know time. Time is around us. We interact with it all the time.
So why is it hard to think about what it is?
Well, time is a very abstract construct. It is this force invisible in our life but we cannot feel, hear or touch it. But we know it’s all there.
So to be able to define it, we actually have to go back centuries to the time where time as a construct did not exist yet. At that point in time we knew that the invisible force poles are part of our life but we did not know how to communicate about it.
So the first purpose of time was actually to be a marker. It allowed us to mark different points in time, different events in time so that we can communicate about it.
I could not tell you that I will meet you on Saturday at 3 p.m. and we all know exactly what that stands for.
Similarly, time is also a measurement tool. It allows us to measure the amount of time. So on Saturday, I can tell you that we’ll have one hour together and everybody understands that that’s 60 minutes or 360 seconds.
These are all functional uses of time. These are the ways in which we navigate this invisible force that’s around us.
However, in the recent decades we started to think about time in a third way. We think about it as a resource.
It’s the resource that helps us achieve certain goals. Just like money allows us to buy things we want, time allows us to do the things we want to do.
It is just like money and we actually say time is money. But it really isn’t. Is it?
Time is a very unique construct. Time, we cannot save. It’s been about two and a half minutes since I started talking and none of us will ever get that two and half minutes back. It’s gone.
As an outcome, time always feels scarce. If you ask Americans, 41% of them will tell you that they do not have enough time to do the things that they want to be doing in their lives. We want to control it but it keeps on slipping away from our fingers.
We do not dare waste it. We want to make the most of it. We want to maximize that as a resource. And we have every right to. This is a very important precious resource that we all have.
Now what I want to tell you today is this resource maximization of your time is more American than universal, than there is parts of the world that doesn’t see time like that.
Now I’ve been living in the U.S. for almost 20 years but I was born in Turkey. And I spent the first half of my life there.
I actually traveled back there all the time. My family is there and at any point in time I’ve got at least one Turkish or pair living with me. This gives me the vantage point to be able to compare the cultures in a very specific way and understand how they approach time.
And unlike the Americans who think time as a resource to be maximized, Turks see it as a medium through which they live their life.
And this is true if you think about it. The moments that we have add up to our days, to our weeks, to our years and that is our life. We are simply what we do in life and nothing more.
Now if we think about time in those means, we tend to behave differently. We tend to do things in a different way.
I’m going to try to explain that to you with three examples.
Now the first time I took my now husband, then boyfriend to Turkey, he was there to meet our family — my family, my friends and he’s trying to impress everyone. And he’s doing splendidly.
When my Turkish friends give him this big Turkish liquor rakı, very strong, he acts like he likes it although he hates it. When he gets stuck in the mosque on a Friday prayer in a very hot Friday, he actually tells stories about it and makes fun of it and doesn’t tell us how much it bothered him.