Weekly Budget of Time

Written on June 1, 2008. Written by .


How much time do we really have each week?
Photo courtesy of bogenfreund

Everyone complains about not having enough time, but usually the problem is that we are utilizing our time ineffectively. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that you should spend all your time working. In fact, I think being a workaholic is a big mistake in most circumstances. But using our time effectively might mean knowing how to have some good old fun too. Working a full-time job might seem to hinder your freedom to choose effective uses for your time, but realistically it probably only restricts about half of your available time. I found a free audiobook on Librivox.org called “How to Live on 24 Hours a Day” that discusses this issue. I think it was perhaps a bit too optimistic, but its central point was interesting. It tries to convince you that a 40-hour-per-week job should not be enough to prevent you from pursuing your own endeavors. It’s pretty short, so its probably worth checking out.

This book inspired me to consider how much time I actually have available on a weekly basis.

So the 40 hours of work only adds up to less than half of your available time, after accounting for the basic needs of life. Of course you will spend more time eating if you decide to go to restaurants or do some elaborate cooking, but that is how you decide to spend your time, and not a part of your basic needs. Realizing that there are 85-95 disposable hours a week makes you realize that a full time job constitutes less than half of your job of living. Your job of living involves knowing when to relax and how to enjoy your friends and family, but it also suggests time for personal development and even some long-term productive endeavors outside of your day job.

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2 Comments so far
  1. mspice June 3, 2008 7:10 pm

    Yeah, it really is amazing how much time someone can have despite having a full-time job. However, it is important to note that there is often a significant transition period between different types of activities. For example, it would be hard to work for 8 hours on something technical, drive home, and then immediately go be social and interact with people. Also, you forgot to mention exercise, which no spicy lifestyler would do without. Subtract another 6-10 hours. This is not the fun and social play basketball or soccer with your friends, but the baselines exercise necessary for a quality life (almost in the same category as something like hygiene perhaps). In actuality, I often find myself with plenty of time not knowing what to do with it, especially in the evenings. It always seems justified to interact with girls, but is this really increasing long term life quality maximization? Also, it is hard to be productive in that extra time because the 40-hour work week can drain much of your productive capacity. Nonetheless, having all this time is pretty promising, but we have to make sure we spend it on the right things.

  2. cspice June 4, 2008 12:54 am

    Yeah, this analysis really just gives an approximate upper bound. The issues of transitioning and fatigue are certainly important. For example, if you are working a 8 hour days with a two hour commute, you might wake up at 8 AM, be at work by 10 AM, and get home around 7:30 PM, assuming a half hour for lunch. Then it is time for dinner and you will have from 8 to 12 PM available. After such a long day, it would probably be hard to start working on any demanding projects. But those 4 hour evening periods account for about half of your total remaining free time. So taking advantage of all your time might require some serious psychological training.

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