Time does NOT equal effort

Read the following statements out loud:

  1. My coworkers truly don’t give a crap that I worked 80 hours in a week instead of 40. 
  2. My coworkers don’t care that I was in the office until 9pm last night. 
  3. The amount of time I spend doing ANYTHING does not automatically mean I maxed out my effort on it.

No really, say them out loud and repeat as many times as needed. Time does not equal effort nor does it equal productivity. This is the very reason why so many companies are implementing reduced work days/hours. There’s this weird societal construct that tells us that we need to be sitting at a desk for 8 hours, working out at the gym for 1 hour, or brushing our teeth for 2 minutes in order to be successful at work, have the perfect body, or perfect oral health. YET, there are people out there who don’t get anything done at work, are still struggling to reach their fitness goals, and have gingivitis, despite doing those things for the prescribed amount of time. What’s more, is that some people spend TWICE that amount of time and still come up short. You don’t necessarily need to spend a ton of TIME on something if you apply the right amount of EFFORT. Let’s consult Google for some definitions, shall we?


Source: Google search of “time definition”


Source: Google search of “effort definition”

Time has to do with existence, while effort is strenuous on the mind and/or body. Time is easily measurable and is quantitative, effort is not easily measurable and is qualitative! As you can see, the two are not the same thing. 

So, why does someone who works 80 hours in a week not get anything done at work? I once had a coworker who would stay at the office late every night and come in early every morning. On the surface this guy looked like a superstar, but in reality, he wasn’t doing much all day long. And, when it came to his productivity and the quality of his work—it just wasn’t there. He simply did not put enough effort in. It was clear that this was an act of making it look like he spent SO MUCH TIME at work so it would look like he was so busy and working so hard. After a while, people stopped buying it and eventually no one would want to work with him because he simply didn’t hold his weight. At the end of the day, your company cares more about what you produce rather than how long it took you to produce it.

Of course, we’ve got to visit the brushing your teeth example. Brush your teeth friend, but make sure you’re doing it right (i.e., applying the right amount of pressure, getting those back molars, etc.), otherwise you’ll end up with gingivitis and who knows what else! In other words, don’t spend two minutes with a toothbrush sitting in your mouth and call it brushing your teeth. If you do, don’t say you worked hard and gave it your all. 

This also applies to our fitness goals example. Someone might be struggling with their fitness goals despite going to the gym for 1+ hours every day. Guess what? You can spend five hours in the gym but if you’re not pushing yourself and giving it your ALL, you’re just not going to see results. That means don’t go to the gym to socialize or take selfies and call it working out. Guess what else? If you go to the gym and walk on the treadmill on 3.0 for 1 hour for an entire year, you aren’t going to see results because you’re not putting in the effort required for your body to make changes. In that light, it actually ends up being a waste of time. Wasted time is one of the most tragic things because while time seems like it goes on forever undisturbed, YOUR LIFE my friend, will not. 

I know, I know. I’ve got a master’s degree in public health, so I KNOW there are many confounders that contribute to time and effort spent on any given thing. But, you can only control the effort that YOU put forth. The good thing about time and effort being independent of one another is that you can crush it at so many things in life without spending too much time on them. Get out there and work harder, not longer!

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