Thursday, 26 April 2018

No such thing as "Quality Time"

Americans are great at "inventing" a lot of marketing bullshit.

So much so that if you didn't know better, you would have believed Americans were the ones who "invented" marketing!

OK, I'll concede that the modern marketing concept is popularised by the Americans. What to do? Your first marketing textbook is probably from Philip Kotler!

To encourage working parents to spend more time at work and feel less guity about it, what do you do?

Introduce the concept of "Quality Time" of course!

Come on!

Deep down you know its bullshit!

If it worked, why are we now talking about Work/Life balance?

Pause and reflect for a bit. Wink.

You want "Quality Time" or Work/Life balance?

Remember that time you got a school prize or fantastic grade for a test and you rushed home eager to tell your parents? They weren't home... How you felt?

You had your first kiss or someone held your hand for the first time. You can't wait to tell your best friends! How you feel if they practiced "quality time" on you?

The concept of best friend forever is someone who always have the time for you right? Not tell you to make an appointment first...

Those who own pets knew this already; they are always there for you. Pets can be more "loyal" than people "tio boh"?

I am closest to my Ah Ma when it comes to family ties. She was always there for me ever since I can remember. We did things together before I started school. And when I started primary school, she often visited me during canteen breaks.

I still remember crying for Ah Ma during her 2 visits back to Mainland China when mom punished me for being naughty. Ah Ma always shielded me whenever I got a beating from mom!

Yes, I still visit Ah Ma at Mount Vernon from time to time without prompting from anyone, or waiting for a reason like "Ching Ming". I always visit her during my returns to Singapore when I were working overseas.

Next time you study or work overseas, and you return to Singapore for holiday, whom you spend time with you'll know who mattered the most! Yah, track and measure your finances you do, track and measure the time you spend with people that matter you forget... 

You think why Singaporeans try to travel overseas together as a family once or twice per year? That's the best excuse for "Quality Time"!

Its probably the only time you all have the chance to be physically together. That's provided you don't keep thinking about work all the time... Work on emails during the coach rides or late at night back at the hotel...

Its same old same old. Back at hotel everyone keep to their hotel rooms. At meal times everyone stare at their own smartphones. 

But hey! Got lots of family photos to carpet bomb in Facebook! Must keep up with appearances mah!

I can count on my hands the number of times I had the most scintillating moments with mom over the last 5 years now that I'm back. These moments just came about unexpectedly. How to "plan" such "quality moments" ahead of time?

I remember vividly my younger sibling standing up and walked for the first time. I yelled at mom to quickly see! Its so amazing! 

Pray tell how you intend to make an appointment for "quality time" to catch your baby whsiper his/her first word? Or standing up and walking for the first time?

Stay at home dads and moms know this. We just have to be there. Period.

If you believe 5 minutes a day is all you need to invest or trade, then you'll believe in "Quality Time".

Then again, would you tell your child all they need is to study 5 minutes a day?

Play the violin, swim competitively, or do ballet using "quality time"?

Back at work, those once a year team building workshops or company trips, do they actually work?

Or maybe it's the face time you, your team members, and team leader have spent together, through thick and thin times, that matter more?

You know what's the best test to experience the lies of "Quality Time"?

Take note of how you felt next time others practice it on you.



  1. Hi SMOL,

    Intriguing post. Ponder for thought!


    1. Ben,

      Hee hee. I think I too free!

      Then again, that's perhaps the reason why founders of companies are willing to spend millions to hire a professional CEO to run their businesses while they remain as Chairman...

      If not to free up time to reflect on things that matter, what then?


  2. Team building is bullshit and companies are spending money on these.

    1. CW,

      Founder owners of companies will never spend money on such activities.

      Only hired hands will approve it since they are not spending their own money mah!

      I HR I would promote it! If not, how to "justify" my existence?

      You stay in Hougang so you know why Low Thia Kiang so popular there ;)

      The pioneer workers who worked with the boss when the company was a tiny hole-in-the-wall remember a time when boss ate, slogged, and celebrated together with them.

      Sick or hospitalised boss will visit personally. Drunk after entertainment with clients, boss will drive them home; and vice versa.

      This kind of camaraderie cannot be built up with just an annual team building event one ;)

  3. SMOL,

    Isn’t “Quality Time" what I want and “Work/Life balance” how to achieve it?

    1. Blursotong King,

      "Quality time" can only be known AFTER the fact.

      Just reflect on those "quality moments" you've spent with people that matter. Can be parents, children, best friend, girl friend, etc.

      How much time in total you actually spent with them to get those rare scintillating moments where you'll remember them fondly?

      Its like mining for precious metals. We sometimes need to dig out a tonne of earth before we can get and ounce of gold...

      The "Quality Time" concept is propagated by "experts" who worked for corporations to encourage workers to work longer in the office.

      Yes, its OK to spend your weekends and vacations on corporate emails too!

      Look! Its "quality"; not "quantity" remember?

      The Scandinavian countries didn't buy into this bullshit. I've got the good fortune to work with one of them and they really meant it when they encouraged work/life balance! Not just lip service.

      The litmus test is when bosses don't expect co-workers to respond to emails/whatsapp AFTER work ;)

      Scandinavians are not stupid; they chose work/life balance instead.

      Its QUANTITY of time with people that matter ;)

  4. Hi SMOL,

    Thanks for defending me haha :)

    I don't know how to break the news to that person...maybe I'll just do a politically correct reply and move on :) You either get it or you don't, no need for me to harp further.

    1. LP,


      I've removed "anonymous" commenting some time back.

      Its hard to have a conversation with anyone and everyone!


  5. Haha is that why army has mono intake? Plenty of quality bonding time lol!

    Then again there is increasing numbers of elderly divorce after retirement and when kids have flown the coop ... Too much time for 2 strangers to stare at each other in the same house ... Oops!


    1. Spur,

      From BMT, to active unit, to reservist - its all part of group dynamics ;)

      This is happening in Japan especially when you only get to "see" the husband between the time he comes home late at 11 pm and before he leaves for work early at 6.30 am...

      Sunday idiot husband plays golf with his buddies to "network" leaving only Saturday for "quality time" together.

      Yeah right... He so tired so he spends the whole Saturday sleeping!

      There's a reason why I'm closer to my ah ma first, then mom, and my dad last.

      Its not fair to my dad, I know...

      Yes, I do remember the quality time moments like when he bought me my first wrist watch, the occassions he brought all of us to watch King Kong and Star Wars...

      But that's overwhelmed by the copious amount of time mom spends with me - never mind mom canes me, scolds me, and screams at me :(

      At least she was there when I made a mess of myself!!!

      I never felt lonely growing up ;)

  6. team bonding is going through and doing the shit together like bmt.

    How to promote team bonding in work place when each other is pushing shit to one another? Oh an annual team bonding also got budget one, so you can see the manager willing to "foot the bill" first, but "claim" behind the scene. Willing but not so willing.

    1. Small Time Investor,

      It seems this post is quite redundant...

      I don't have to say the obvious; everyone can SEE the emperor is naked!!!


      My regimental sergeant major (RSM) once told us he budget 20% of his pay for "entertainment" every month.

      Those miserly, cheapskate, and tightwad financial independence seekers will probably choke upon hearing it...

      Imagine if we take that 20%, invest it, and let it compound till eternity!?

      Yah, that's why they have no clue on the difference between leadership and management...

      And what's "To Insure Performance" (TIP) all about?

      Yet they perk up like lap dogs once their bosses dangle promotion opportunities and extra bonuses in front of their noses...


  7. Interestingly, you didn't use the term "quantity" time in your post.

    You just said quality time is BS.
    Which I absolutely agree.

    It's the idea marketed that people can have it all, both a great career and earn money AND still spend sufficient time with their kids.
    Who doesn't want it all? Or at least want to try to tell themselves that?
    A foolish lie no doubt.

    You did mention quantity time in your comments though, which I also agree, just being there for someone is enough. Although many people don't understand it. Until a loved one passes on.

    Eh, just cos you say quality time is BS doesn't mean ppl will naturally come to the conclusion that quantity is better than quality hor.

    1. ERSG,

      My "poking" posts are merely me pointing to a direction, "Look there!"

      I leave "space" for the reader to come to their own conclusions what they see.

      That's why the comments here are so interesting!

      It sometimes lead to all sorts of weird directions that I never imagined in the first place...

      There are times I have to be more "precise". That's why the "quantity" word was used ;)

      Its a balancing act.

      I don't like to be the Indian Chief who likes to "wah kali kong", yet there are times we should not be too cute with "coaching".

      If there's a fire, I don't think its wise to go, "People, the alarm bell is ringing, there's smoke in the building, what do you think we should do?"


    2. Find the fire and take pictures and instagram of course!

      Then comes the question, are you the person who runs by yourself first... or calls everyone to run?
      I for one don't like a crowded staircase. ;)
      A perfect time to say "Look there!"

    3. ERSG,

      I can't live with the guilt of I alone survive while my colleagues die :(

      I will shout and pull people that matter out of the building.

      There will be those who can't be bothered and continue working (I was a fire warden before), these people I'll leave them alone.

      I am not that bleeding heart until I will die for people who don't matter.

      Then again, we'll never know until we are tested in a real life situation.

      I hope I'm not that guy on the Titanic that refuses to let women and children on to the lifeboats first...


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