top of page

T.E.A.M. Tuesday Articles 

Time and Attendance

By Justin Simmons - Aug 22, 2023

Brain Time.jpg

In the business world, ‘Time and Attendance’ is a system built to track the number of hours an employee works daily, weekly, monthly, or even annually. From roll call, to punching time cards, to the vastly more advanced digital systems used today, tracking people is a business in itself. There is a reason behind this, a simple motivating cause we have all heard and understand but perhaps never consider the cascading effects: “Time is money”. I’d like to take a moment and revisit this statement to better comprehend the impact of such a message. After all, if time equals money, this technically should infer money is equivalent to time. The statement “Money is time”, however, feels different as it doesn’t resonate in the same familiar tone and this is exactly the point. With modern economics fixated on money, how do we take pause to recognize the true value of time?

Predating monetary exchange, the barter system is the oldest form of commerce. This practice of exchanging goods and services will always hold a level of value in society given the tangible nature of its transactions. In many ways, such trade may feel more secure today amidst the volatility of our financial markets and the lack of intrinsic value held by the dollar. In either case, our management of personal finance is ever-present as our modern-day survival depends on it.  

Money is a major factor in everything we do, this is no surprise. It’s so heavily weighted in our thought process that even while we sleep, our dreams often entail the notion of discovering riches. This means that even our subconscious mind is bought into the business model and rightfully so, it's exciting!

Earning money isn’t just viewed as a tool for survival, it’s revered as a means to an end: the end of struggling, the end of suffering, the end of loneliness, and a reprieve from the long day ahead. We conceptualize earnings as the cheat code to all wants and troubles while believing life will become easy if only we had a larger bank account.

The reality of life is that it isn’t easy! Life is difficult and even once acquiring as much money as possible, we still face similar and new challenges. The hope that money will heal all wounds and provide endless happiness is going to be a bitter disappointment without the willingness to seek these initiatives independent of acquiring wealth. Waiting for miracle funds to suddenly change our outlook is a path to a dead-end that only results in wasting our most valuable resource, ‘time’.

We as individuals are infatuated with the ideas of what money can buy but rarely stop to question the cost. This obsession can lead us to make poor choices in the pursuit of acquiring goods and earnings. Considering what we stand to sacrifice or lose along the road to riches may paint a less enticing picture than what we initially perceive. Chasing the dollar can be a dangerous game to which many surrender their time disproportionately.

Time is highly underrated and often disregarded in our quest to reach utopian status. In theory, believing we’re unsatisfied with our current status causes us to disregard any value of the present moment in hopes of finding future satisfaction. This notion literally discounts the value of our time’s worth. If we can’t see the true value of our own time and current abilities, there is a strong likelihood that others will make the same mistake and devalue us as well. This cyclical reaction to our own projected value epitomizes the concept of negativity breeding negativity. Such results are counterproductive to the goals we wish to achieve, so we must maintain a positive attitude toward our current status even when it's difficult.

The goals we seek will vary and at times might simply be to earn more money, that’s a positive target. With the abundance of marketing messages showcasing the next must-have items, our focus can become quickly fixed on the monetary gains required to obtain them. We want to be sure we’re in control of these impulses and not compelled at the expense of all else. Working countless hours of overtime or attempting get-rich-quick schemes can be detrimental to our cause but disguise themselves as best practices in our efforts to get ahead. Hard work is effective, but smart work and establishing a sustainable work/life balance is optimal.

It's no surprise why making more money is such an attractive concept but perhaps further evaluation of the costs versus benefits may change our perspective. This evaluation process adheres similarly to our survival brain activity where we focus on definitive outcomes while seeking efficient paths of least resistance. We don’t want to question best practices, instead, we want to find the blatantly obvious direction and run toward it. With this mindset, there is no room to question why we should want to survive in the first place, we simply act. Making money ignites our thinking patterns in a similar fashion. When presented with the opportunity, our brain comprehends the gravity of what greater earnings will mean and this prompts us to take action. Unfortunately, we don’t always think through the cause and effect of these actions until it's too late.

Controlling this pattern of thinking can be more challenging than we expect. Like any addiction, the brain likes to follow its familiar paths and connect the dots in its favor. To question these patterns may require ample effort to offset what our mind is accustomed to doing. To do so will require deeper cognitive thinking which utilizes more energy. The brain actually fights this process for a number of reasons. In addition to stubbornness, our brain views this added energy consumption as a waste of needed calories and thus contradictory to the basic goal of survival. Thinking deeper isn’t impossible, it simply requires more work, exactly what the brain is hoping to avoid unless prompted.

The mind is capable of acknowledging what appears to be an easier course of action. When we see nice things or lifestyles outside of our means, we presume these to be environments filled with enjoyment, better living conditions, and thus an easier way of life. What we don’t substantiate is the hard work and sacrifices that most likely went into establishing said improved conditions. Nor do we realize that material gains only temporarily satisfy our craving for improvement and more often deepen the insecurities that distract us from finding a greater sense of self-worth.

Inevitably our vulnerabilities allow us to fall prey to the enticing promises of increased wealth. This is why we must remember that when things appear too good to be true, there is probably a reason. Fiction can quickly exceed the entertainment value of fact and only we can control ourselves to know the difference. Luckily the same human element that subjects us to such enticement also provides us with a level of direction. This element is emotion and we can tap into these feelings to recognize what is most important and prioritize accordingly. Emotion is the main differentiator between human choices and standard business decisions. 

Businesses are built to earn profits as this is how they’re ranked and survive. As long as they earn, they stay alive, so it’s understood why their primary focus is on the bottom dollar. People, however, are built to live, feel emotions and appreciate their time on earth knowing it is limited and should never be taken for granted. There is clearly a delineation between a ‘business entity’ and a ‘human life’, therefore we must respect the difference in priorities of each while recognizing the need for both to coincide. The sooner we realize humans are designed to value time more than money, the sooner an improvement in our collective quality of life will be acknowledged and shared by all.

To revisit ‘time is money’, perhaps a better saying would be: “Time is growth”. Imagine a world where it is possible to track and compensate performance based on quantifying developmental growth. Instead of endlessly offering up our time for the arbitrary exchange of a paycheck, we should be rewarded for seeking more efficient means of execution. This shift in thinking motivates us to exceed the status quo while glorifying the benefits of improving our abilities.

Each day we must take roll call in our own lives and hold ourselves to the highest standard of time and attendance, otherwise known as accountability. Being present and fulfilling our responsibilities is the foundation of any success. Whether in business or personal endeavors, we need to show up. We know the best use of our time, which is why we must remain vigilant in our clock management and make smart decisions on our own behalf. This is not to say others don’t care about our use of time, they simply can’t provide the same level of attentiveness to which we owe ourselves.

By design, business economics is most concerned with where finances are allocated. This isn’t a fault, it’s a strength for business growth. We as individuals must think differently about ourselves than the enterprise we support. We best serve our businesses by allocating sufficient time for all aspects of our life. Earning money is a necessary aspect but it's not the primary. Considering what is most important to us will drive us to new levels of happiness and sustain our growth for years to come.

Striving to find a career that brings us true happiness is a novel concept that I support. I will however challenge that notion with the request to prove there isn’t something out there that brings even more joy. This is the overarching goal, to seek the joys out of life and not get caught up in what we think is expected of us. Focusing more on what makes us smile and brings true happiness will be hard to ignore once in sight, especially knowing we’re capable of achieving these results.

Time and attendance is a basic concept traditionally used for managing hours worked. Rethinking this tool, we can use the same application to seek more out of life. Start by tracking the time spent on the things that matter most. Also, be present for yourself and those who mean most around you. We will never get this time back, but we can make memories that last forever if willing to focus on the time we have remaining. Are you ready to discover the power of your mindset? 

bottom of page