no time left for you, you need not wonder why.

Here's an article in the Economist that is a classic example of saying absolutely nothing based on factually correct data.

It suggests that people feel overworked but they're not, their time is just overvalued. Huh? Excuse me, but as far as I'm concerned it is nearly impossible to overvalue time, though it is possible to overvalue money. For example, assume I have an income sufficient to support my family and some leisure time on top of that. If offered a choice at that point between more leisure time and more money, I'll take more time, thanks very much.

I'm sure lots of people would choose differently. Yet, the study cited by the article shows (by my reading of the data) that growing numbers of people are choosing time.

So far so good. The overworked American may be a mythical being after all, even if this is due to a deliberate choice.

Here's where the article loses me:

"First, thanks to rising real incomes, an American's time is worth more now. A walk in the park is more expensive than it used to be. (When people complain to him about being too busy, Mr Hamermesh* tells them that their real problem is too much money.) Second, economic advances allow people to squeeze ever more possible activities, both work and leisure, into a day, which encourages people to try to do too much."

I'm not sure what this is supposed to mean, but I think Mr. Hammeresh is telling us that our time is overvalued, and I think that misses the story that the data is telling, which is that Americans (as well as people around the world, for that matter) are increasingly aware of the true value of time, and it's higher than we supposed.

The article concludes where it should have started:

"Finally, there is the changing nature of work. Mobile phones and e-mail make people accountable on short notice, and competition may make them less secure in their jobs. So even if they are playing golf or walking in the park, they may feel as if they are working. It is surely nicer to feel overworked in the park than to be overworked at the office, but few Americans seem to look at it that way."

The problem is that in choosing more time we've tried to continue to choose more money. We feel overworked not because we are necessarily, but because we have tried to simultaneously choose both leisure and work. Which would seem to me to be impossible to do, but there you go. I would have loved to see an analysis of why we make such a choice.

Okay, gotta go. I'm running out of time.

*Mr. Hammeresh is a "well-known work-watcher" according to the article.

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