Are Modern Conveniences Really a Time Saver?

Real Simple recently discussed modern time savers that aren’t all the supposed “improvements” that we twenty-first century folk take for granted. You know…things like microwaves, iPhones and the DVR.

The author makes a very valid point. Many of these innovations are a good idea in theory but actually end up requiring more time, not less. Take interstate highways – they’re fabulous until you’re mired in endless miles of traffic when you could be doing something (anything!) else.

One of the so-called “conveniences” that comes to mind for me is NetFlix (the poor man’s DVR). It’s a great way to avoid the video rental store, but then you end up spending the time you saved rearranging your queue or obsessively reading other people’s movie reviews. And if I didn’t have it, I’d probably spend less time watching movies and more time reading books (all right…or surfing the web).  While trying to end up with more hours in the day, you end up with the same – or less.  That’s pretty much the opposite of what you really want in a time saver.

What about you? Can you think of other “time-saving” innovations that actually take up more of our time?

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Susan Johnston is a freelance writer/blogger who has contributed to publications including The Boston Globe,’s blog,, and Yahoo! HotJobs. Her own blog,, covers tips on productivity, brainstorming, and more for fellow writers.


  1. Ashley Hill on the 25th June

    I LOVE netflix…it’s cheaper than renting from stores, and we take full advantage of the streaming via PS3.

  2. lol I guess this is really true.

    I can think of countless things…We should be having more free time now than ever, because the ‘modern time savers’ we have now, were not present before.

    Instead, we find less free time now than before. Life has become so busy, in spite of the time-saving technologies that we have now.

    Think of email, mobile, 3g, WiFi etc we should be having more free time because of these technologies, as these reduce the time and distance to communicate, and these were not available before.


  3. dandellion on the 26th June

    Most of the modern conveniences really does make us more productive and/or our lives better and more enjoyable, but they often come with prices we’re not aware at the beginning.
    My favourite example is mobile phone. It really helps us communicate, but it also makes us available 24/7, even in the situations we want to be away from the telephone. But that’s not all. Technology makes us neglect our capabilities. All those address books, calendars, organizers and alarms are really great help. But because of them we loose our capabilities of memorizing and organizing. More we rely on the gadgets, the more we are not capable to get our stuff done without them any more. Sometimes that’s the price worth paying, but more often, its not.

  4. Katie on the 27th June

    Email and rss. I know, I love them, but the amount of time I spend reading them each day, I wish I had never cone across them. And all the conversations that must be had once finished reading them. In fact why don’t we expand this to internet in general. I have a lot of fun on the net, and learn a lot of things, but I don’t really have time to speak to people so far away. I have study to do, projects to work on, and a social life to fulfill. Why is man’s greatest virtue also his greatest weakness? That may be a bit exaggerated, but you must excuse me, I am part of the iGeneration.

    • Susan Johnston on the 27th June

      Very true! The internet is both a blessing and a curse.

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