Try out the new Website!
Try out the new Website!

Value of time

What price would you be willing to pay for an extra hour in your life? Would everyone be willing to pay the same price for time? I bet the answer is a bold No. In my opinion, time does not have the same value in this country and in other economically comparable countries as it does in those that are economically advanced. Although our time in this World is likely to be much shorter than say for instance Europeans, I believe we give much less value to time than they do. With a life expectancy of less than 65 years, we live like immortals thinking we have all the time to waste in this World. Of the things that I have learned during my stay in Europe is that time is a priceless asset.

As a first timer in the Western world, I found it amazing to see that people were unwilling to waste time even as they commute in a train or bus, or wait at an airport terminal for their planes to arrive. The tiny space of time one can find is rarely wasted unnecessarily. They can be used either to read a book, play mind stimulating games or finish up work. Finding someone who does not carry around a time agenda is pretty unusual. Agendas are used equally for social events as for work purposes. In case you plan to visit someone at their house, you should make sure to inform them in advance so that they record it on their agenda! When it comes to planning, plans made for six months from now are made with a nearly equal certainty as plans for the next week. At least from my experience, plans and appointments are rarely cancelled.

It is true that several conditions in Ethiopia do not allow people to plan things with an equal level of certainty as in Europe or other developed countries. But from my understanding, planning requires taking into account all the inconveniences and contingencies that may hamper the realization of the plan. Take for instance appointments. Two people agree to meet say at 6 pm on a weekday to chat over coffee. The appointment has supposedly taken into account the time these two leave work and the time it takes to travel from the workplace to the place of the appointment. In my opinion, and based on my experience, it is very unlikely that both arrive at the appointment place at exactly 6 pm. And if they do, it can only be by chance. You might say that finding a taxi is difficult at rush hours and if you do, there will be too much traffic jam. In my opinion, these two people are not able to arrive on time first because they do not care that much if the other person has to sit for half an hour or more waiting for them to arrive, and second because the appointment time was not realistic in the first place.

I strongly believe that most of us Ethiopians do not have respect at all of the time of others and do not know how to manage our own time and make the best use of it. How much of office time is really spent on work? How much time do we spend during office hours chatting nonsense with our colleagues or browsing nonsense and useless material on the internet? How much effort do we exert to make sure to deliver what we promised at the exact promised time? As a poor nation, we cannot afford to waste a valuable resource such as time. Time should be given more value here than in Europe.