January 02, 2008

The Time-Money Mediators

I met a man who lived in an upscale neighborhood. His neighbors made more money than he did. He kept pace by being a do-it-yourselfer. He built much of his house, and landscaped and maintained it himself. He took pride in having such mechanical skills. But he also felt that life was unfair to him. While the neighbors recreated, he gave up his time for the money he lacked. He thought “time truly is money”.



I thought that my friend was like so many of us. His income was fixed, his time was fixed. If he wants more time, he needs to reduce his money needs. There are mediators for this such as buying on sale, couponing, or living within your means. If he wants more money he needs to free up time. The mediators for this are efficiency and labor-saving devices. Another is organization.



Can organization actually save time and free up more money? A major principle of organizing is that for all of the elements of a set to be considered organized, all must be equally and readily visible. No moving or shuffling an item to find another. Consider the Parable of the DVDs.



Sarah’s son wants to watch a DVD and asks her help to locate it. She knows it’s in the pile of DVDs on his bedroom floor. They scan the titles on the first layer, oriented in different directions. The title is not found. The top layer is obviously blocking the next layer so the pile is shuffled. The search begins anew with the same results. After 20 minutes the title is found. Search, shuffle, find, no, repeat. The son is about to scamper off to watch TV, but Sarah feels a lesson coming on. She works alongside her son to gather all the titles and place them in a DVD rack on the closet door. Now, she asks the son to find a title. He scans the rack and finds it within a minute.



It’s good when time and money mediators collide. Couponing (money mediator). Organizing (time mediator). Coupon organizing. Coupon organizers.



Couponing saves money but takes time. Can organizing recoupe some or all of the time? I maintain that the more that true principles of organization get applied to couponing, the less time it has to take. Do you ever walk in to a store with a stack of coupons in hand, a shoebox, your purse, or a coupon holder? You enter the cereal section. You fumble through the stack, looking for the target coupon. You may find all the products for which you have coupons. But it will take unnecessary time. What if you could organize your coupons so that you could see them all at one glance? It would save you time in every section of the store. There are many so-called organizers on the market. They each add varying degrees of order to couponing. But most still leave your sorting through the stack and wasting time. Some allow you to see all of your coupons, but putting them in and taking them out is time-consuming.



Time and money saving mediators collide best when you have all of your coupons in a convenient binder, with the store sections divided by tabs readable at a glance, and coupon pockets that allow all coupons for a store section to be visible at a glance (and the coupons are easy to insert and remove). Mrs. A’s Coupon Organizer is a great example of a tool that brings time and money closer together, saving much of each.



Copyright © Paul Stout, Mrs. A’s Corporation, 2007