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ART & LEISURE: Importance of Time in Chinese Culture
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Importance of Time in Chinese Culture
By Rose Salas

BT 201904 ART 01时间在中国文化中的重要性




时间受到高度重视,价值也是无法估量的。如果你浪费或者让时间流走,你就失去了很多机会。时间管理至关重要,因为它表明了人的一生中所具有的品格或态度。专注于一件事并认真地完成它更适用于时间管理。在西方文化中,多任务处理很普遍,人们声称当你可以一次做很多事情时就能达到生产力。对于中国来说恰恰相反。生产力不是衡量一次可以完成多少事情; 相反,专注于特定的任务对于进入下一个目标并实现它至关重要。


So much to do, but no time or little time left. Sounds familiar? Busy people tend to think that time is the most precious thing on earth. Every day we wish we could do more things or finish what needs to be accomplished. Sadly, no matter how organized we can be, life is full of unexpected things that could eat up, waste, or take away our time. If there is a culture that stood the test of time when giving importance to time management, then you can learn from the Chinese.

What is so vital about time in Chinese culture?

Time is highly valued and considered beyond price, as that of an expensive commodity. If you waste it or just let it pass without using it wisely, you lose chances. Time management is crucial as it denotes which character or attitude one has for his lifetime. However, it doesn’t apply the principle of multitasking where you do several things at time. Focusing on one thing and getting it done appropriately is more fitting. In the Western culture, multitasking is common, where one claims that productivity is achieved when you can do many things in one sitting. This is precisely the opposite when it comes to Chinese time. Productivity is not measured on how many things one can accomplish at a time; instead, focusing on a specific engagement or task is essential to achieve the goal before moving onto the next.

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For every individual, time management is making the right equilibrium in every aspect of life. For every business owner or an employee of a company, work and life balance is also a component of time. Therefore, Chinese people think of time as money. It is because it has founded a culture that values time as indispensable. Let us cite a few examples:


- Punctuality is a must. Showing up late in a meeting is a big offense. Respecting somebody’s time is a sign of moral uprightness. Whether it is a casual gathering or a business meeting, being punctual is necessary. Traffic or last-minute agenda is not an excuse and adjustments have to be done to get on the venue ahead of time. Valuing another person’s time is honourable.
BT 201904 ART 03- Standard working hours. Working hours are set to a maximum of 8 hours. Variations happen, where timing can start at 8:00 AM, 8:30 AM, or 9:00 AM for most. It is for the employee to have time to spend with the family and avoid being burnout.
BT 201904 ART 04- Family time is not optional. Indeed, family traditions, gatherings, and festivals are well-celebrated and cherished by every family. Giving time to their loved ones can cost much for some, especially for those who are living overseas. However, since family has a solid foundation in the Chinese culture, time spent with loved ones is priceless. To not have a family time is a huge loss, and it is something you can never turn back.
BT 201904 ART 05- It is a lifestyle. You can see a person’s perception of time through his lifestyle. Also, when it comes to decision, being impulsive does not bear fruits in one’s labour. In a business transaction, Chinese people would do quick meetings, but would take time to think before entering into a business engagement.

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One of the reasons why the Chinese economy became very successful is because of their incorruptible way of handling time. Over the years, people became mindful of life because of the high-principled legacy of time that had been passed on from generation to generation. Time is always urgent, valuable and powerful!


What is your outlook on time? If you are still struggling with your time management, it’s not too late to make a change. Perhaps, taking a new perspective on how you view time will bring forth major changes in your life. To summarize, these 12 Chinese proverbs will thoroughly elaborate what TIME is all about.

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Infographic on Chinese Proverbs on Time

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