(Sorry – this is a bit of a long post)
While listening to one of the podcasts by The Minimalists, I recently discovered this quote from an article called Quitting something you love by Derek Sivers:
“Personal change needs some space to happen. To bring something new into your life, you need somewhere to put it. If your current habits are filling your day, where is this new stuff supposed to go?”
Reflecting on this, I began to wonder about how I spending my time, and what was I achieving. I’m very busy, so I must be achieving lots, right?
Here’s a typical week:
- 8 hrs at work
- 3 hrs commuting
- 1 hr midday break
- 4 hrs evening
- 5 hrs morning
- 11 hrs afternoon & evening
After work is removed, that leaves 72 precious hours a week – approximately 3,750 a year! Put it that way, it sounds like a lot. Over the last 12 months I estimate I have spent my free time on:
- 720!! hrs watching TV, Netflix or playing games – ouch.
- 520 hrs commuting on train – mostly playing games, reading news, using social media.
- 350 hrs eating meals. I love food. So much.
- 300 hrs driving to work, shops, sport etc.
- 300 hrs playing ingress (mostly walking but also sitting, standing, riding or driving)
- 250 hrs on social media & email ( in addition to commuting).
- 200 hrs getting ready for or coming down from work
- 200 hrs housework
- 100 hrs shopping
- 100 hrs volunteering
- 100 hrs socialising with friends at home, lunch or coffee
- 75 hrs walking dog or for exercise
- 50 hrs while away on holiday not doing other things on this list
- 50 hrs watching the kids play sport.
- 50 hrs gardening
- 50 hrs out drinking
- 40 hrs playing poker
- 25 hrs talking on phone to family and friends
- 25 hrs moderate exercise
- 20 hrs one on one time with my wife
- 20 hrs reading books
- 20 hrs enjoying movies, live shows or music gigs
- 10 hrs family get togethers
- 10 hrs helping with school work
- 10 hrs playing board games with the family
- 5 hrs on creative projects
- 5 hrs playing guitar
- 0 hrs doing something special for loved ones. Oh…
- 0 hrs learning new skills (personal growth). Sad case.
- about 145 hrs unaccounted for (4%). I’ll figure that out in due course…
O.M.G. That’s a bit depressing. Flipped the other way there’s so much opportunity to for change! To free up time for more valuable activities, I need to modify or eliminate certain habits.
Here’s what I’ll be doing less:
- Playing games – particularly always on, augmented reality games. I realise now that even a “free” game can cost me time, money, quality relationships and can destroy your attention. This should free up about hundreds of hours a year. Instead I plan to read, write, day dream or pay attention to the people around me.
- Couch surfing – watching TV & Netflix on occasion is ok, but 2 hours on a regular basis is bad for my health. I guess I do it mostly out of boredom, exhaustion or avoidance of other things. It invariably leads to someone getting the munchies, which is not helping me lose weight! Plus I tend to go to bed late and wake up tired the next day. Instead I should be spending quality time with my wife and kids, exercising, reading, writing, or doing housework.
- Checking the news – I’m finding that not only is this a time waster (mostly to fight boredom) but that most of the news is depressing or distressing (plus full of ads). I actually feel better when I abstain from reading any news. If anything really important comes up, I’m sure someone will let me know.
- Checking social media – a fair bit of this is tied up with playing Ingress, but Facebook and LinkedIn etc. still burn my time. It’s about 99% consumption and 1% contribution for me. And I realise that most of the people close to me are not on there anyway. If they’re close, then I should be catching up with them or giving them a call – not staring at them through a little glass window. It’s good to keep tabs on a few people who have moved far away, but it’s mostly crap, ads or irrelevant news. I recently culled about 75% of my connections and I doubt anyone noticed or cares.
- Commuting – this is a necessary evil (at the moment) but my goal is to reduce this as much as possible. I could change my job, or we could change where we live. For now I will focus on making good use of my commuting time on the train, by reading, writing and listening to podcasts. Still, sitting on my butt nearly 2 hours a days isn’t good for my health (or sanity!). I live about 70 kms from where I work, so right now it’s somewhat impractical for me to ride my bike to work, but maybe I can incorporate that somehow…
- Driving around – a lot of the time it’s just me in the car, or I’m ferrying a child from A to B. We should ride our bikes more often – even to pick up the groceries. Using the car for shopping definitely encourages you to buy more food (more often!) which has negative health consequences. Driving costs money, and the environment too. It would be great to get rid of one of our two cars (or at least not get a third when our kids are old enough to drive). Not 10 minutes after writing this did my wife ring to tell me that the car had broken down and black smoke was coming from the engine
- Shopping – I’m pretty good at avoiding shops, but the Credit Card + Internet + Mobile tech has made it possible for my family to buy stuff we don’t want or need, using money we don’t have, from nearly anywhere, anytime. Oh joy! Frictionless purchasing is a real hazard. I think getting rid of the Credit Cards is the first step I need to take here. Riding our bikes to the shops might help us spend less as well.
- Gardening – ironically I want to spend more time in the garden (not less) but on growing food, rather than maintaining lawns and pulling weeds. We do get a lot of personal pleasure from having access to a garden, but as we get older the maintenance is becoming painful. If we lived in an apartment, the maintenance would go away, but so would the opportunity to grow food… Maybe I should get involved in the local Community Gardens? Or start one that’s close to home?
- Out drinking – I enjoying socialising and catching up with people, but for the most part I can reduce this without impacting important relationships. It’s a pretty big time and money waster that is bad for my health, and keeps me from my loved ones at home.
- Playing poker – this can be pretty good fun, but I usually lose my money and eat and drink too much. And dabbling with drink-driving is really bad… m’kay?
To be continued in part 2.