Where Did My Time Go? How your time vanishes and how you can make more of it

How much is 1 minute worth to you? 

Probably not much. But 1 minute is actually a quite significant part of your day. If you sleep for 7 hours and 20 minutes, you have exactly 1,000 wakeful minutes each day to live your life. 10 minutes is actually 1% of your wakeful day. 

A day is just a tiny part of our entire lifespan. But if you perform the same 10-minute activity every day, you are actually spending 1% of your entire life on that activity. 

When an activity is done every day, don’t allow yourself to think: “Well, it is only 10 minutes. It is no biggie.” 

No, It is 1% of your life! And you have only one life to spend. 

Ask yourself: 

  • Do I want to spend 5% of my life commuting to and from work?
  • Do I want to spend 5% of my life preparing food?
  • Do I want to spend just 5% of my life connecting with the people I love most?

When an activity is a one-off, it is as if you are being asked: “Would you spend 10 minutes of all the time you have left on this activity?”. 

But when you do an activity every day, it is as if you are being asked: “Would you spend 10 minutes on this activity if you had just one day left to live?” Because until you change your routine, you are choosing to spend 1% of your life on this activity. That is the same percentage as 10 minutes of your last day on earth. 

Now, imagine if you had the opportunity to do a task once that would save you 1 minute for the rest of your life. How much time would you be ready to invest in that task today? 

Personally, I would gladly give up 5 days to save 1 minute each day. 

This might seem ludicrous. Until you do the math. 

I am 22 years old and expect to live to at least 80. That is 58 years * 365 days per year / 1,000 min per day = 21 days more that I will enjoy my life. 

I get 21 days back for 5 days of work. 

That is a 4X return on my time! 

I do value my time being young more than being old, but 4X is a great return for me. And these days are not going to come when I am old and wrinkled. They are going to be evenly spread throughout my life. 

Realistically, saving 1 minute every day might require 1 hour of work. Imagine if you kept finding ways to save 1 minute per day for the rest of your life, with each minute saved requiring 1 hour of work. If you kept doing this for one month, how much more time would you have to enjoy your life? 

Assuming that you have 50 more years left to live, you would give up 22 days to earn an extra 547 days! Does that sound like a good deal to you? 

The reason why I show these numbers is to help you realize just how powerful daily activities are. 

If you enjoy the routine for its own sake, by all means keep doing it! But if you are only interested in the outcome, here is a list of possible time-saving strategies you could try:

  • Eliminate: Could you buy two power cables for your laptop for home and work, instead of unplugging, packing, and re-plugging the same cable? 
  • Automate: Could you set up automatic deliveries for products you need to restock regularly, such as toilet paper, cereal, or batteries? 
  • Outsource: Could you find a friend who would be happy to do the research you need? 
  • Effectivize: Could you dim your lights one hour before bed to help you fall asleep faster? 
  • Templatize: Could you create templates for emails you frequently need to send? 
  • Bulk actions: Could you prepare dinner for 5 days in just one evening? (For added variety, consider making a large pot of a staple good, like pasta, and using that same pasta for two different recipes). 
  • Task-combining: Could you call a friend to catch up while commuting to work?

Which daily activity can you shave off a few precious minutes from?

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