Time to think

    Ian McMaster
    Von Ian McMaster


    Recently, I to have time on one’s hands(zu) viel Zeit habenhad some time on my hands. So I decided to think about, well, time.

    This decision was to prompt sth.zu etw. anregen; hier: etw. auslösenprompted by the fact that everywhere around me people seem to be talking about time.

    Germany’s metal workers, for example, have been striking in favour of a 28-hour working week. “A 28-hour week?” a friend of mine exclaimed. “I work a 28-hour day!” I knew what he meant.

    This week, we also learned that the Berlin Wall has now been down for a longer period of time since 1989 than the time it stood between 1961 and 1989 (10,316 days).

    Time and time-travelZeitreise(n)time-travel fascinate us, which is why they have been the subject of many films. But we are also fascinated by the way time gets “lost”.

    According to the motorists’ organization ADAC, for example, Germans spent 457,000 hours in some 723,000 traffic jamVerkehrsstautraffic jams in 2017, cover (a distance)hier: sich (über eine Strecke) erstreckencovering a distance of 1,448,000 kilometres.

    How anyone calculates that is to be beyondetwa: sich jmds. Verständnis entziehenbeyond me, but it probably feels right to most drivers. The time lost was said to be nine per cent higher than in 2016.

    Meanwhile, Handelsblatt claimed that on average, motorists in Germany spend six minutes every time they try to find a parking space, or an average of 41 hours a year. In the major cities, the figures are much higher, with Frankfurt leading the way on 10 minutes per time or 65 hours a year.

    The total costs of looking for a parking space — including extra fuelKraftstofffuel, emissionshier: Schadstoffausstoßemissions and “wasted time” — was calculated to be around €40 billionMilliarde(n)billion a year.

    Calculations of the value of “lost” or “saved” time are often used in government infrastructure decisions, such as building a new road, bridge or tunnel.

    We don’t ‘lose’ time. We simply use it in a different way

    But I have a bit of a problem with this concept. However annoying it is to be to be stuckfestsitzenstuck in a traffic jam or spend 20 minutes looking for a parking space — quite possible in Munich — we don’t actually “lose” time. We simply use it in a way that is different to our original preference.

    But we can still do something useful with this time in a car. We can listen to music or an audio book or a language-learning product. If you’re with friends or family, you could actually talk to them. (OK, I etw. zu schätzen wissenappreciate sth.appreciate that if there are to screamschreienscreaming kids in the back seat, things aren’t quite so much fun.).

    Likewise, a grippingspannendgripping book or magazine is the perfect antidoteGegenmittelantidote to having to to queueSchlange stehenqueue, whether in a shop, at the airport or at a government office. In such cases, the queue(Warte-)Schlangequeue often comes to an end too soon because you want to read further.

    Another alternative in a queue is simply to think. Which is what I did recently — about time.


    In his blog, Ian McMaster has been commenting on global business issues since 2002. For older entries, see the blog archive on our former website.