I was having a discussion the other day with a friend that I wanted to further think through. The conversation ended without closure, so as I am writing this I still have not crystalized my thoughts.
Long story short, the topic was the merit of the following idea: would an extra 2 hours a day make you better off? I said no. He said yes. And we could not come to a consensus as to why our opinions differed.
His opinion was the following: if you could somehow get 2 more hours in a day (or any arbitrary number), you’d have more time to do everything. You could meet more people. You could shower longer. You could be more productive when you need to be! Everything would be better in that sense.
My stance was that this is a paradoxical problem. First and foremost, I believe that focus and attention are constrained. You can only focus so much throughout a given time period. There are diminishing returns, and, perhaps with the extra 2 hours, your “productivity multiplier” would be down the drain. Another thing is that days indeed are quite arbitrary…you could create a 26 hour day tomorrow, or a 48 hour day! In fact, entire weeks could be considered a day. Are you more productive or happier then? Probably not. It is a recursive problem. We always want more. We want more time. We want more freedom. The irony is that the biggest waster of our time is really ourselves and that, I believe, adding more time to our “fictional days” is not actually very helpful. In fact, with more time, perhaps people have even less urgency to do. The gap between how we think about our schedules and our actions would increase evermore.
And we’d end up even lazier than we already are.
The other factor in this is that if everyone considered days to be 26 hours…and you decide to dismiss my thesis that it would not indeed make us any better off…then game theory tells us that the bar would be raised and everyone would ‘be better,’ thus we would still be the same (relatively).
This essay reminded me of an interesting topic…do days have to be 24 hours? Sure, perhaps on a macro level this is efficient, but would you be really better off with longer or shorter days? Why don’t you try it out?
What about weeks? Why are they 7 days?
Why is the weekend 2 days? Why not 4?
These types of questions…I feel like…have really not been questioned for years.
Perhaps we start turning the rocks over and diving into new solutions for how society functions.
Also published on Medium.