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Some Americans are born into wealth; others struggle to meet their basic needs. Our society is an incredibly diverse group of backgrounds, classes, and values. But the one resource allotted to every person equally is time, and today, it’s more precious than ever.

Evidenced by our reliance on technology to streamline our lives, the last thing we want is for our time to be wasted. Whether it’s avoiding the inconvenience of flagging a cab with Uber, or eliminating the hassle of carrying a wallet with Apple Pay, Americans highly value instant gratification – and mobile apps are the gateway to getting it.

“As mobile technology makes us more efficient and constantly connected, our internal clocks are speeding up,” says Samantha Paxson, Chief Marketing Officer at CO-OP Financial Services. “Impatience is becoming a virtue as we all race to do everything faster.”

How Americans Spend Their Time

About a third of our lives are spent sleeping. Back in the late 19th century, we worked 70 hours a week, but have leveraged advances in technology and productivity to reduce that number by about 30 hours. The way we spend the rest of our waking hours is, for the most part, entirely up to us. Though it may not feel this way, we have more leisure time today than ever before.

So how do modern adults choose to spend their time? According to Bloomberg, the average American dedicates more than five hours a day to watching television, and another 40 minutes to checking Facebook. Yet, the perception is that we are rushed, pressed for time, and unable to relax.

According to the Economist, the problem isn’t how much time people have, but how they see it: “Time has been understood in relation to money. Once hours are financially quantified, people worry more about wasting, saving or using them profitably. When economies grow and incomes rise, everyone’s time becomes more valuable. And the more valuable something becomes, the scarcer it seems.”

So it is only perception, not reality, that time is a scarcer resource than in decades past. Yet that perception is not changing, and isn’t going to. That means today’s technology must placate our appetite for convenience or risk becoming obsolete.

The Role of Mobile Apps

Dr. Carl Marci wrote in TechCrunch that recent studies find Millennial attention spans are 60 percent shorter than previous generations when it comes to media. “They’ve essentially emerged from birth staring at smartphones and tablet computers,” he writes. “Brands must identify new ways to break through the clutter and establish meaningful emotional connections with their audiences.”

Today’s mobile apps have mere seconds to grab a user’s attention or lose it forever. More than 50 percent of users abandon a slow loading app or video after just two seconds. Meanwhile, 66 percent of users stop buying after one negative service experience or interaction.

Craig Pearson, CFA and CEO of Private Wealth Systems explains, “We live in a period of digital Darwinism where products must adapt to the new age of instant access or perish.” He added that no matter how good an app looks, it needs to also get the job done easily and quickly. “The successful apps of the modern age will own the intersection where art meets information.”

Meagan Nordmann, digital marketing lead for @Pay, says “frictionless payment” is a term that is increasingly being used in the mobile payments industry. “Apps such as Uber have spoiled not only Millennials, but most generations into expecting a two- to three- click process to complete a payment without ever having to reach in their back pocket for their wallet or credit card. A race has begun to see which application can reduce the most steps.”

“Design, speed, ease. These are the qualities consumers demand of their mobile experience,” says CO-OP’s Paxson. “Companies that fail to reach their audience via mobile, and seamlessly at that, will quickly be overshadowed by their competitors.” Americans simply value their time too much, even if that time is only going to be spent on Facebook.