This is why you feel like you don’t have enough time


I once read a book in which the author opined how a person should be willing to work double time, or on the weekends.

The idea was that if one worked weekends, it will be all overtime, and thus at double rates, which would be worth four extra days a week. Do this long enough, and not only will one almost double one’s pay (four days extra on a five day week) but your boss will take notice and promote you!

From this we can come to a few conclusions:

  1. Anyone can get a book deal.
  2. Some people have not worked a typical job in a very long time.
  3. People’s gut feelings about time management are deeply, deeply wrong.


There are 24 hours in the day. Of this, you can expect to spend 8 hours in sleep-related activities. (Yes, I know you don’t sleep that long, but when you factor in showering or teeth-brushing, or making the bed, or lying in bed trying to sleep, or whatever else it is that you do, the time adds up to about that).

This leaves 16 hours. If you have a typical full time job, you work 8 hours a day. That said, your lunch break is usually not counted in this tally, so in truth you’re at work for 9 hours.

But then you have to get to work. Average commute time in the US is around a half hour (which to be honest seems a bit low to me), but when you factor in getting dressed and other ancillary prep work, it’s an hour each way. So 2 more hours down.

And 5 hours left. We’ve factored in breakfast and lunch, so let’s give 1 more hour for dinner (if you cook, expect to double this at least).

Down to 4 hours. This means 4 hours for social time, hobbies, reading, relaxing, and whatever else you desire.

Your typical day, built in ten minutes via some random online chart making software
Your typical day, built in ten minutes via some random online chart making software

And because we’re not robots, we can’t keep up a 100% efficient and productive pace all day. I am much more creative when I first wake up, and toward the end of the day, it’s all I can do to fight the Tired.

And when you have the “day off,” a misleading term if there ever was one, you have to slot in everything in your life that takes more than a few hours.

So, of course there’s plenty of time to work double time, right?

The difference

From all of this, we can come to a few more conclusions:

  1. You really don’t have a lot of time, so the time you do have is valuable.
  2. The standard work schedule does not allow much of any time for doing much of anything outside of that work.
  3. If you are in a job you hate, then you are spending a minimum of 60% of your life doing something that enervates you.

I bring all this up not to make you depressed, but to show you that if you feel like you don’t have enough time, you’re probably right.

The question then becomes, what will you do about it?

Maybe then you can write a book that has something useful to say. Because I know for sure that book I was reading did not.

(And in the spirit of The Believer, I will not mention the name of the book or its author.)

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