The Value of Time vs. Information

Time is valuable. We are reminded of that fact in song lyrics, poems, clichés, and the urgent demands of a world that turns 24/7/365 and encourages each of us to do the same. But we aren't built to operate at that pace. In fact, if we try for very long, we will likely find ourselves exhausted, sick, and frustrated.

I was chatting with a client on Sunday that I believe has reached this point. The tell-tale sign? He wanted advice about how to manage the flow of information he receives via emails, social media updates, text messages, RSS feeds, etc., etc. "Don't we all," most of you are likely saying, but this client is different. As a major player in the world of big data, information is lifeblood for this executive, so when I hear him expressing the need to manage information flow, I know things have gone awry.

I gave my client a few pieces of practical advice, but failed to have the larger conversation. A mistake I will rectify via this post, not only for his sake, but the sake of all of our clients and friends, and ourselves.

Information is valuable, but it does not carry a value equal to time. Information can be created, accessed, rearranged, summarized, and stored. Try performing those tasks with time. In the second it takes to check the time, another second has come and gone, meaning our access to it is always limited. Try rearranging time and you'll find you've wasted it. We can't even accurately summarize time without losing precious seconds. And forget trying to create or store time.

The key is determining what types and sources of information matter enough to warrant the use of our time.


  • Not all information is created equal. At any given time, in any given day, we will have a need to know certain things, but other items can wait. If we know that, we can properly store the information until the right time to explore it - or even discard it.
  • Not all sources of information are created equal. We are bombarded with information from people, news agencies, social media accounts, etc., but some of those sources just don't deserve our immediate attention. If we know which ones do, we can prioritize the time we take to respond - assuming we ever need to respond at all.
  • Don't let information overwhelm you - it's only as good as the value you create in it by exploring it at the right time, for the right reasons, with the right people.

What challenges are you facing in giving proper value to time?