How much can we stretch time?

Can we stretch time? We often use this expression (to stretch time) to mean that we are doing more with less time. This brings to my mind a picture of time as play dough or silly putty. I have this chunk of time which is only so big. However, I am able to tuck it, kneed it, and stretch it until I can get all of the things I need done in the time I have. How do I accomplish this miracle? Is their a coefficient for the elasticity of time? We have such figures for product demand and product supply so why not time. These coefficients measure the elasticity of demand for products and services. Some products can change very little in price and the demand drops sharply, for instance if the price of beans or broccoli goes up even a little, people will find substitute products. Products and services that respond rapidly to small changes in prices are referred to as being very elastic. Other products can undergo very large price changes and the demand falls off less so (Insulin and alcohol are often named in this category). These products are very inelastic. It will take a large change in price before the demand falls for them.

What would an elasticity of time be like? Time that was very elastic might be leisure time, vacation time and weekend time. During these periods, you can stretch your time to accomplish things that suddenly come up. Time that is very inelastic might include work time, project time or chore time. During these times, it is very difficult to put more on your plate since it is already accounted for. Thus, when we talk about stretching time, it might be wise to first see how elastic our time is. I can imagine this preventing many misunderstandings and arguments.

For instance, if I told Karen my time was very flexible and elastic this week, it would mean I could easily change our schedules to accommodate some new tasks. On the other hand, if I said it was very inelastic, she should understand that I had very little flexibility or openness to change. Perhaps, this concept could help in work load scheduling or other forms of job tasking. It might help others to understand when we were willing to take on more work and when we were not willing.

How do you stretch your time? Do you find that your time is often not very stretchable? What makes the difference for you in terms of your ability to stretch time? Are there weeks when you can do more and weeks when you do less? What do you think accounts for this difference?

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