Back in the days, I’ve spent entire weekends watching TV shows, playing video games, going out with different people, helping them with personal stuff (washing the car, going with them to pay the bills, shopping for clothes), going from one coffee shop to other just to have something to do. I was keen on waiting for everybody and for everything. My life wasn’t about me, it was about what others wanted me to do. I was a follower. I wasn’t valuing myself, nor my time.
Time is relative. A very broad subject. When we think of now, it’s something that’s already in the past. It’s something studied by physicists and scientists.1 According to the theory of relativity, time dilation is a difference in the elapsed time measured by two observers, either due to a velocity difference relative to each other, or by being differently situated relative to a gravitational field…2 Wait, wait, what? Yes, I know. I didn’t quite understand the last sentence also. Let’s keep in simple.
We, humans, perceive time in a very simple way: how many hours, minutes, it will take us to do something. When we think of time, we imagine a clock, going to work, 8 hours spent in the office, only two more days till the weekend, one hour drive to work, 30 minutes walk to the nearest store, 5 minutes to complete pretty much everything. We love saying: “I will be ready in 5 minutes honey”, “dinner is ready after in 5 minutes”, “I need only 5 more minutes to complete the project boss”, “I am coming, wait for me, only 5 more minutes.” Whether we like it or not, on a lot of occasions these 5 minutes turn into 10, 15, 20, 30. 120 minutes.
How you manage your time is something really important. Something we should all be aware of. And it starts with a simple question: “Do I spend my time wisely?”
Lifetime by Days
How long, in days, you think an average life lasts? 50,000 days? 100,000 days? 1,000,000 days? Think again. The correct answer is around 28,251 days. That’s if you’re born now, of course. Remove from the previous number 6,750 days, the time we all needed to reach 18 years, and you will have only 21,501 days remaining. I am 29 years old, meaning, that in the best case scenario I have left around 17,521 days to live. To me, that doesn’t seem like a lot.
Another sobering number is how much time we spent staring at screens, whether this will be it a smartphone, tablet, laptop or a TV, it doesn’t matter. According to recent studies, the time spent staring at screens each day is around 7,4 hours.3
Life constants that are wasting our time
Although life is quite diverse, in terms of doing stuff, there are several things we are all forced to execute in order to sustain our living. Along the lines, that are supposed to help you find ways for a more meaningful way to spend your time, you will find a couple of questions. Write the answers on a piece of paper. You will need them at the end of the article:
Soft pillow, warm bed, thick socks and funny looking flapjack pajamas.4Sleeping is our time to recharge. For some, it’s a necessity from the busy day, a well-deserved rest and time away from their work. For others, it’s like a hobby. Actually, my girl tends to oversleeps, which I don’t quite get. Sometimes, she sleeps for 10 + hours – which to my understandings it’s a lot – and when she wakes up she tells me that he can sleep even more. I’ve previously asked her why she is sleeping so much, what she answered was: “well, you have your own stuff, I have mine, and mine is sleeping. ” Not that I don’t want to lay around and cuddle with her, but I kind of feel that there is something more than I can be doing with my time. Writing, or running for example.
Some will say that oversleeping is a medical disorder,5others, that’s pure laziness. Me, I think that people who find more comfort in bed, sleeping, are people who are still lost in terms of what they want to do with their lives. People, drifting through life, hopefully, searching for their meaning.
How much time do you spend laying in bed, procrastinating?
Taking Care of yourself
I don’t mean touching yourself in the bathroom, well I do, but not only that. Brushing your teeth, ironing your clothes, finding something to wear, spending time in the hospital (waiting), cleaning the house, showering, shaving your legs, mustaches. All of those things, plus additional 5 or 50, depending on how foppish you are, are preform by us daily.
Of course, there are several tasks we absolutely have to do, like brushing our teeth, showering, waiting in the lobby of the hospital to get a prescription or treatment. Nevertheless, each and every one of us can ditch something that’s not quite necessary to stay alive, or, stay clean.
I am personally kind of obsessed with cleanliness. Sometimes, I see a dirt on the floor and I end up cleaning half of the apartment. I build momentum with every little spot I see. This, of course, keeps me away from my real tasks, slows me down and not surprisingly leads to a bunch of unfinished tasks that are piling up every week. It’s my form of procrastination. After several years of cleaning the house like a sleepwalker, now I know, I am aware of my condition and I simply avoid starting in the first place. I see a stain, I remove it and I force myself to sit down before I pick the vacuum cleaner.
How much time do you spend in front of the mirror just to feed your ego?
With this pace, our cars will soon become our sanctuary. Especially if you’re living in L.A. Where a simple ride to the beach takes at least hour and a half. Recently I visited Los Angeles, for the second time in my short life. Huge city, great food and a lot of things to be seen. However, the traffic is awful. I was there for 4 days and I spend more than 10 hours driving.
Avoiding driving and staying in traffic in huge cities is almost impossible. Getting a motorcycle it’s probably a start,6but it still won’t save you enough of your precious time.
As a solution, you can either change your condo, to live closer to your work, work from home (if the company you work for allows it), change your job, or, my favorite, wait for Elon Musk till he finishes tunneling L.A.7
How many hours a day you spend in traffic?
Preparing meals, considering what to eat, going to restaurants, grocery shopping, the actual ritual of putting food in our mouths. All of the above is something we must do to keep our body moving. It’s also something that wastes a ton of time.
Going grocery shopping is my “favorite” time of the week. I get to be cross-questioned by my girl about what I want to eat. Contrary to her perceptions, I don’t quite know what I want, like, now. I try to leave this part of my life solely to her decision, nevertheless, she always asks for my opinion, which is one of the reasons I love her – she takes care of me. Even so, I don’t trouble my mind thinking about what I want to eat, I only force myself when she’s out of ideas.
Ordering food is probably a smart move. But, can you really eat pizza for the rest of your life?8
How many hours a day you are thinking about what to eat?
Buying a razor blade has turned into an ongoing process of comparison. “Should I get a razor with 3 blades or 4 blades?; Should I buy an electric shaver?; Should I shave at all?9“. And we haven’t even started talking about technology. Even Apple, the giant, made it difficult for their fans to pick between iPhone 8 or X this year.
It’s like a disease. You start searching in Google, watching reviews on YouTube, asking your friends on Facebook and Twitter. The more you look the worse it gets. At the end, you either buy both of the things or you don’t buy anything at all.
Last year I was furnishing my new apartment and I spent probably a month choosing, considering, inner debating with myself what kind of electric equipment I should buy. I was obsessed with the idea of buying the best equipment for the amount of money I had determined to spend on these things. Till I realize myself, it was Black Friday season. I got everything from one store and I picked everything for under an hour.
How much time do you spend looking, searching for new things to buy?
We all devote a large part of our lives towards other people. Even though our job is the biggest piece, here I will talk about the people we interact with.
Think about it like this: have you ever cooked, went to the store, watch a movie you don’t like, waited for someone for an hour to get ready, change a tire for someone else besides you? You did? You’re probably a nice person with a lot of friends. Caring, helpful, cooperative. Also, depending on how often you do it, you are a self-sabotaging, insecure guy/girl who’s probably not quite happy with himself/herself and only doing the above to feel accepted, useful, liked, to boost your low self-esteem.
“Ivaylo, you are an asshole”, you might say. I am. I admit it. My girl often tells me the same thing when I don’t agree with others only to please them. I understand her. She wants our friends and the people who we meet to like us. She’s a people pleaser. Me too, but not at all costs. Simply, I say what I mean and I do what I want. I value my time and how I spent it. I used to be the guy who will do everything for others and that didn’t turn out to be such a great idea.
Before, I was constantly pleasing others. I was, in a way, living for the acceptance of others. Doing things I didn’t quite want, only to make the people around me feel good. I had tons of friends, at least I thought I had, who could count on me. However, the other way around wasn’t so true. After years of putting other people’s feelings before mine, I felt used, misunderstood and alone. My problem was that I wanted unconditional approval and admiration from everybody, which was good for others, they used me. I learned my lesson, though. My world got smaller but yet much more easier to manage. Now, my attention is focused on only few people. And they really deserve it the attention. It might sound selfish to you, but it’s my life and I really think I should live the way I want. I hope this will make you think about who your real friends are.
How much time do you spend doing things for others?
A couple of years ago kids had to invent outdoor games to entertain themselves, and parents were trying to force us to come back home for lunch. Now, things have turned around. You barely see a child playing outside. If you see some, they are probably grounded or their internet supplier is doing a maintenance.
Even though it all started with television, this is an outdated form of entertainment. We now have others things to stare at. Thanks to the Internet and to our smartphones we can now be constantly delighted. Watch the latest episode of The Game of Thrones? Sure thing. Play a video game while you are waiting in the airport lobby? Of course. Read the latest book about a rich guy seducing a wounded girl? Just click download.
Wherever you go, there you are.” Jon Kabat-Zinn
I love this quote.10We travel the world, go on vacations, yet, there we are, staring out our phones. Seeing the world through our screen rather than through our eyes:
Recently I bought PlayStation 4. I was thrilled. I played every day for a full month till I got bored. Even though there are many games released and are only waiting to be purchased, I thought – Why? I have other things to do – like write here – I don’t need a video game to feel good about myself. So I thought about it even more. “Why the entertainment industry is so damn popular. It’s growing tremendously.” The only thing I could think of was that people don’t have anything better to do with their lives. What a shame.
How many hours do you spend a day scrolling through your Facebook feed or playing video games?
What we do to earn money and sustain our living eats a lot of our time. A regular job will require you to stay at least 8 hours in the office, or in the factory. Add to those 8 hours the time you are spending traveling and thinking about the job. The sum of the things above is the right amount you spend daily, working.
Did you get the exact number? Now, ask yourself this question: “Is it really worth it?” If your job doesn’t make you a better person or gives the right amount of satisfaction in return, then, you should really think about changing it with something that really deserves your attention.
When we work for someone, for a company, we are doing our best to make this company better, grow, increase the market share, earn more money. It’s something pretty obvious. The opposite is not that common, though. We can quit, but the company will surely develop. What will happen to you? Did you learn something new while you were working late hours in the office, or you were simply used?
Our jobs shouldn’t be only measured by the salary we earn. You need to think about what specific skills you are learning that will help your future self. Only so, your time won’t be wasted building someone else’s future.
Is your job meaningful and really worth it?
Sum the hours you are spending each day on the things that are not making you a better person. Now, multiply those hours by 365 and devide the number by 24 (it will give you the hours, in days, that you are spending each year). You can also multiply the result by the years you expect to live.
Two hours a day stuck in traffic will mean that you are wasting 30 days a year fastened in your car ((2×365)/24=X days). If you’re traveling the same amount of hours for 10 years will mean that you will waste 300 days behind the steering wheel. That’s nearly a year, and we are only talking about the time spend it traffic here. Imagine how many hours, days you are wasting doing things you either don’t like, need or aren’t helping you develop.
If you came this far, through the article, congratulations! You’ve just wasted approximately 15 minutes of your life – depending on how fast you read. I really hope you won’t have to read it twice to understand why time is your most valuable asset. At the end, I leave you with this quote I found written in my notes:
At some point in my life, I figured it out, my time is my time, and that I should be really selfish about how I spend it.” Unknown Author
- Einstein was one of those dudes who were fascinated by what time is and what does it means – LINK
- If you into to science stuff, you will probably enjoy reading the full text – LINK
- Unfortunatelly, I am not making this up, you can see the whole study here – LINK
- Yes, seemingly they are still manufacturing those- LINK
- I can’t agree with a single word written in this article but if you think you’re sick from this disease you should really take care of it – LINK
- Or getting one of those insanely cool electric bikes – LINK
- Apparently, he also got frustrated waiting too long in traffic and decided that it will be a good idea to build underground system of tunnels to ease the traffic – LINK; LINK
- Well, there is this one guy who survived eating pizza for 25 years. It’s probably a solution. Decide for yourself – LINK
- If you’re a beard type of guy, you should definitely check this site – LINK
- There is actually a whole book – LINK