Time is the only thing you always want more of, but you only seem to have less and less of it. And it doesn’t really matter what you do, father time will always work against you. The internet contains massive amounts of content discussing the issue of time and time management. Additionally, there is a huge variety of blogs and coaches that will “help you use every second of your time efficiently”. To that I have 2 questions:
1. Is that really possible?
2. How much time do you actually have from the moment you wake to the moment you go to bed again?
It is true that time is a tricky concept and time tracking is even trickier. But let’s give it a shot anyway. Shall we?
First, we should start by figuring out how much time we actually have.
How much time is there?
Let’s start with the basics: There are 24 hours in a day. Let’s assume that you have normal sleeping habits and you sleep the average 8 hours per night. We’re already down to 16 hours.
Assuming you are a student or an adult, you probably work or study during the week. In many countries, a normal working/study day is considered to be around 8 hours. This cuts the time left in a day down to 8 hours.
Out of these 8 hours, some of your time will inevitably go to routine tasks that you just have to do, with the main ones being: eating, bathroom breaks, commuting to work/college/school, etc. Most people do these things because… well, they’re part of our daily lives, and some of them (like eating and going to the bathroom) must be done if you want to stay alive.
Another thing we should not forget about is also distractions and things we do for leisure. But I will get to this a bit later.
So let’s get to it.
How much time do people spend on eating?
The answer to this question really depends on where you’re from, and subsequently, what kind of food you eat. For example, The Local suggests that people in the US spend an average of one hour daily on eating. While in France, the average time spent on meals stands at 2 hours and 13 minutes daily. To be on the safe side, we take into account the American time to get the lower time spent in a day. So now we are already down to 7 free hours in a day.
But let’s go further.
How much time is spent in the bathroom?
If you think that where you stop “wasting” time on “unnecessary” things, let me assure you there’s more. A study in the UK showed that the average person spends 1 hour and 42 minutes in the bathroom daily. This a lot of time spent considering that we already have just 7 free hours. The bathroom obviously shrinks the 7 hours to about 5 hours and 15 minutes of free time.
Going home from work?
Commute is one of the most overlooked time drainers, simply because there’s nothing we can do about it. Well, except sleeping at your office. Anyway, CNBC claims that the average commute to and from work time in the U.S. is a little over 50 minutes per day. Adding this to our total calculation leaves us at approximately 4 hours and 25 minutes of free time.
Starting to feel the tension? Because I’m not done yet.
What about distractions?
Of course, distractions are a matter of self-discipline and are something we can bypass by refusing the temptation and not being distracted at all. Right? Wrong. Regardless of your self-discipline skills, it is impossible to be in a complete Zen mode 100% of the time.
There are so many distractions we face on a daily basis, but I want to talk about a single one, that hurts our time efficiency the most – which is no other than our beloved…
Yes, I know you’ve been waiting to see social media on this list and read about me rambling about how bad it is for time management, and that’s why I saved it for last. I have a lot of critical things to say about social media and that it takes away so much of your time, and yet I’m no different. I find myself surfing on the web and going on social media just as much as anybody else. More importantly, you too probably think the same thoughts, and yet you can’t shake it off.
At this point, social media has become more of a primary habit rather than a major distraction, so I find it fit to include it in our daily time calculation. Because, if you manage to go through your day without looking on social media, you’re a true hero.
And so, Digital Information World suggests that people spend 2 hours and 22 minutes on social media, which leaves us at about 2 hours of free time on a workday. Doesn’t look like that much time anymore, does it?
Let me stop right here so I don’t overwhelm you and let you feel that you have at least some time left for yourself. There would always be more things that can be added to this list and and make the busy time exceed 24 hours, but that’s not the point of this article.
You should keep in mind everything I wrote is based on statistics, and they may not be true for everyone, but it just shows how important it is to keep track of your time and manage it the right way.