365 days in a year. There’s 52 weeks somewhere in there. Each week with 7 days. Every day has 24 hours. In 1 week we have 168 hours to spend. 168 hours to work, to wrap up in each others arms, to better ourselves. It seems like so much time. All this time we have and I’m not getting everything I’d like out of it. I want to learn more, write more and strengthen some of my personal relationships, maybe make some new ones. All this time we have and I don’t know where it goes. If we could only find a little more. Sadly, for now, Time is a limited resource to us all. Let’s take a quick audit of where our precious resource is spent to understand what we have to actually working with.
On each day we, hopefully, sleep somewhere between 6 and 9 hours a day. I was always told to shoot for 8 hours, let’s roll with that. The average full-time employee in the US works 46.7 hours a week, let’s round up to 47 for a bad week. The average commute time is about 30 minutes in the US, so 1 hour for both directions, per day. Finally, let’s take out 2 hours per day for normal things like hygiene, eating breakfast/dinner and normal little tasks. That leaves us with 46 hours in a week to do whatever we want.
46 hours sounds lovely, that’s like an entire weekend!
He felt strangely good about having the more mundane things figured out. The rent and utilities were paid for, house supplies and the necessities like food and medicine were in a brown paper bag. Everything was finally in order. Time to let loose.
Feeling good about being so responsible with his initial spending, he jumps right into the good stuff. A couple beer orders, several clicks on Amazon and a few Playstation games later, our hero grows tired and decides to call it a day. He wakes up to find that he’s tight on cash somehow. The rest of the money had been spent.
Soon, he realizes he can’t run out and enjoy his time with friends. They want to spend money at bars or the next Bieber concert, yet he has no money with which to join them. They grow tired of lending him money when they know he doesn’t need it. They know he just spends it poorly. Many of his friends fall off and lose interest in him.
This continues for some time. Eventually he sees the pattern and decides to change. He becomes more careful with his spending over time. He begins approaching the decision process differently. He evolves.
Our hero now, when faced with decisions, thinks. If it’s absolutely necessary, just do it. If it’s not, think for a moment. “What is the product of my decision?” he thinks. He may be doing anything from climbing out of debt, to small things like spending a little on looking nicer, to not spending so much on the newest trinkets. The product of those things may be any number of things like financial stability or feeling less pressured to chase the latest thing. Just thinking for a moment changed everything.
46 hours to watch movies, play video games and get that side-project off the ground. Knuckle-Crack — let’s get to it. After a few movies and getting sucked into Netflix we’re down a few hours. On to some video games to get brain function back. Let’s grab some beers. Ok, several hours of Super Meat Boy and Destiny later, it’s feeling like other types of brain cells are gone. That’s ok, we still have something like, 20 hours. Well, slept too late after the beer and staring at the screen. We’re actually closer to 12 hours now. Let’s get started on that side-project work. This is feeling difficult after everything else, accidentally ended up sitting and staring for a bit. Now there’s about an hour or two for side-project stuff. Yikes. Where did the time go? Is there anything we can do about it?
People often talk about money in vague terms. Podcasts like Open Account are trying to change that by talking more explicitly about numbers and a decision process with people who have hit bad times and good times. I’d like people to start doing the same with their time. We should take a moment to think about how we spend our time. There’s no need to pick up a project management tool and start booking all of our precious free-time. No. We just need to take a moment to reflect on time spent and evaluate the next step.
I have a few things that I consider when I’m thinking about my free time. I’m working on becoming more well read in a few specific topics, while simultaneously hoping to write about those topics and perhaps someday make those topics part of a living. These things while trying to keep up relationships with family and my best friends, stay healthy and become more financially stable. Take a moment to understand what you care about and spend your time like you care about those things.
P.S. You should follow me on Twitter where I pretend like I can talk about Software, Science and other non-controversial topics.