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From Time Poor to Time Rich

Time poverty affects 80% of Americans - but what does being time poor mean, and how can we solve it?

May 24, 2022

Many of us have something we wish we could spend more time on - for some, it’s quality time with family, and for others, it’s a favourite hobby that you never have energy for anymore. We often wrap up long and busy work weeks without ever being able to carve out time for the things that are most important to us.

This is time poverty, a concept introduced by Ashley Whillans in her book Time Smart, and Harvard Business Review says that it affects 80% of Americans.

Being time-poor is heavily correlated with being less happy, less productive, and more stressed out.

Time poverty is a serious problem - studies show that it's heavily correlated with being less happy, less productive, and more stressed out [source]. This often leads to more sedentary lifestyles, resorting to fattier food to fuel up faster, and higher rates of heart disease [source]. Not having enough time means that you have to compromise on the time you spend to maintain yourself.

At Opal, our mission is to help people live fuller, happier lives by saving you time - we want everyone to become time rich! But to do that, we first have to understand where exactly all this time is going.

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Time Confetti

“Time poverty doesn’t arise from a mismatch between the hours we have and the hours we need; it results from how we think about and value those hours.” [source] We often don’t know how to use our free time well, or devalue our time by giving it away to things that don’t necessarily matter to us the most. This becomes particularly clear through the widespread adoption of remote work.

Going digital has an insidious effect called the autonomy paradox. This paradox says that when we adopt new technological tools to help us have more autonomy over how we work and how long we work, we actually end up working more hours instead. Because of this, our days are fragmented - we experience “time confetti”, a term coined by researchers at Ted.

Time confetti fragments our time.

Think about the last time you had dinner with friends - how many times were you interrupted by a work notification pinging your phone? Just like confetti, each of these interruptions may only take a second or two to manage. However, despite their seemingly small individual impact, they cause two big issues:

1. Time confetti adds up. Studies show that the sheer volume of time confetti adds up to 10% of our total time wasted away, dealing with notifications and deleting marketing emails. [source]

2. Time confetti fragments our time. Though the individual impact of each distraction is low, it heavily impacts the quality of our precious leisure time. After a single distraction, studies show it takes a few minutes to become fully present again. Furthermore, many participants estimate that they enjoy their leisure time less overall as well due to the number of interruptions.

This is the reason why Opal exists - we eliminate time confetti by blocking all distractions from your phone so that you can fully enjoy your leisure time, uninterrupted. By removing the risk of distraction, and helping you schedule your days, we want you to be able to use the hours you save over a week to spend on the things you truly care about the most - like taking care of yourself, spending time with your loved ones, and investing in your hobbies.

Want to learn more about the time poverty concept? Listen to Ashley Whillans speak about it below:

But technology doesn't always have to cost us - at Opal, we truly believe that phones can make us happy! Let us help you make your phone serve you, and join us in our mission of helping everyone in the world, become time rich.

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