Every Hour Counts: Knowing How You Spend Your Time

One of the areas of personal development I’d like to focus on is truly making better use of time.  Frankly, it’s probably an endeavor that could Value of Timehelp a lot of people be more productive and healthier!

I’ve written before about how I’ve come around to the belief that time is more valuable than money in the big picture.  After all, we can make more money but we can’t make more time!  Anyway, in that post I related how few peak days and hours we really have, so we might as well make the most of them.

Thinking about it some more, what if we broke it down on a weekly basis, and looked at the hours we have available to do things.  First step is taking 24 hours and multiplying by 7, to get 168 total hours in the week that we have available.  However, we certainly don’t have that full 168 hours to play with.  Let’s say we should deduct 68 hours to get down to 100 hours, with that amount subtracted to account for 8.5 hours per day for sleep and getting ready.   Given the importance of sleep, this is probably necessary for us to consider those hours as spoken for.

So, with 100 hours left, how do we allocate them?  Not that we need to detail every hour here, but it’s worth thinking about in general, and also worth considering a few examples of trade-offs.  One example would be total hours worked.  Let’s say you’re on the job for 40 hours a week. That’s 40% of your available hours.  What if you instead work 50 hours one busy week?  That’s 10% of your 100 hours gone.  However, it’s an incremental 17% of that remaining 60 hours.

Another example:  let’s say you’re commuting 15 minutes each way to work.  This comes out to a half hour per day, and 2.5 hours per week.  What if you took a job that paid more, but required a 45 minute commute each way.  In this case, you’re looking at 7.5 hours per week, which is an additional 5 hours per week in transit.  5% of your total 100 hours gone, but over 8% of your remaining 60 hours.

Third example:  suppose you start a blog.  Let’s say you spend 10 hours per week on your blog.  That’s 10% of your non-working time spent online.  How did you spend that 10% previously?

The point is that we have limited time, and I think it makes sense to consider tracking our time.  Maybe not all the time, as that would be time consuming itself. Spending excessive time tracking time seems convoluted:)  However, just auditing our time for simply one week might be worth the investment.  It could allow us to see how we are spending our precious time.

Many people track expenses, and it truly helps a lot of folks understand where money is going, and where to make changes.  Why not think about being similarly interested in how we’re spending our time? The payoffs might show up in money, health, or relationships.

I’m going to do this for a week, and see what I find out.  My guess is that regardless of how I think my time might be currently spent, there will probably be some surprises and good learnings from it.  We’ll see!

My Questions for You

Do you ever think about how you spend your time?

What are your thoughts about the importance of knowing how you spend time, versus how you spend money?

Are there any areas where you think you spend too much time, and you would like to reallocate to something else?


  1. says

    I spend about 10% of my non-sleep time working on my blog but before I started my own blog I spent that time reading other people’s blogs and creeping people on Facebook.

    I need to add in exercise and I should try for 2 or 3 hours each week. I currently spend zero time getting healthy.

    I bet I spend 20% of my time watching television. That is a shameful amount.

    • Squirrelers says

      Jane – thanks for stopping by, and for the candid comment. When we recognize how we’re spending our time, that’s a great start!

  2. says

    I just asked my students to write their accomplishments including time spent on each of them. I do it to build self esteem as well as a word processing lesson. It helps them realize what they do. When I reflect on what I do, I realize I need to become more effective or efficient.

    • Squirrelers says

      krantcents – that’s great! Good for students to think about the notion of time invested, and results generated. It can serve people well in life to know this early on. Time seems infinite when really young, but it’s not!

  3. says

    It’s amazing how much of our lives we waste buying small things. Thinking of how many hours you work to purchase something can really help put it in perspective.
    Cigarettes for example can not only cut your time short through disease, but then thinking of how many hours you work to feed an addiction makes me glad that I never picked up the habit.

    • Squirrelers says

      Intersting, may have to check that out! I like the idea of easily tracking time, as we should know how we use it. Eye opening findings are where we can often learn the most.

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