Do you ever contemplate the amount of time that is wasted during the day, and how much more we could accomplish if we could improve upon this inefficiency?
Think about the number of hours a month we spend waiting for professionals, such as doctors, lawyers, accountants, minor home repairs, air conditioning repairs, roof repairs, and TV cable providers, among others.
Let’s start with cable companies. First, they give you a “window” of three or four hours when they expect to arrive. Then, before the window closes, you receive a text that they are running late and ask whether you want to reschedule or hang around a couple of more hours. Of course, by now you have wasted most of your day, so why not ruin the evening too. Gone are the days when you could schedule them to arrive within a fifteen-minute span, and count on it.
I cannot be too rough on accountants and lawyers because they are normally within a half hour or so on time, but then there are our docs. Mind you, their time is just as, if not more, important than ours and they don’t want to waste it by having to wait for patients who are not on time. To avoid this, many groups have adopted the practice of waiting until there are enough patients to fill the examining rooms and then taking them back almost as a group. The doctor then sees each patient in line and spends ten or fifteen minutes with them, unless more time is required. This is fine if you are at the beginning of the line, but if you are at the end, or close to it, an hour might pass by before you are seen. Luckily, most of my personal doctors don’t follow this practice.
At that point, there have been two delays. First, you read magazines in the waiting room until ushered back into the examining rooms. Then, you sat in the examining room until a nurse, and later a doctor, saw you.
Finally, there is the invisible time wasted getting to your professional’s office. The amount of this drive time depends a lot on whether you live in a small community like those dotting the east coast of Florida, or whether you live in a larger community like Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton, etc. One of the benefits of living in a small town is there is not a large population, not many commercial establishments because of the small population, and much less traffic on the roadways because of the small size of the residential population. That also means there are not as many doctors, lawyers, or other professionals available to the residents. The result is that if you live in one of our smaller communities, you will likely be driving further to visit your professionals. You can avoid this added time waste if you live in one of the larger population areas, but you are then subjected to commercial centers and much more traffic.
The bottom line is that we spend too much unproductive time driving to professional appointments, waiting for repairmen at home, and reading magazines in waiting rooms once we have reached our professional’s destination. Of course, if you are a parent with kids in school, this inefficiency is multiplied many times over while you put on your invisible Uber cap and ferry your kids all over town for school, clothes, sports, dance classes, etc.
You would think that city planners could devise a plan that permits residents to have quiet streets but with access to nearby commercial areas for shops, schools and professional people. One area that comes to mind that has attacked this problem well is the Villages north of Orlando. The residential areas, or “villages,” surround three or four (and growing) commercial areas that offer shops, dining, entertainment, recreation, you name it. Maybe we should all be pushing our city fathers to follow this design, if it is still possible to do so.
Then we could spend our recaptured time with our families, gatherings with our neighbors, building our businesses, acquiring more knowledge, and participating in the governing of our communities, just to name a few of the benefits of having extra time on our agendas.