Monday, October 11, 2010

Mapping Time

As an exercise in life yesterday, I sat down and made a time chart. Using 168 hours (7 days of 24 hours each), I mapped out what I did in a day and what I proposed to do.

The result was astonishing. Between work, commuting and sleep I have 52% of my week pre-allocated. When all was said and done, I had a mere 7 hours a week not otherwise allocated to any other areas.

As I said, the results were astonishing.

I believe the results to be comprehensive - where there was an activity that occurs once a week but absorbs time, it was entered. Where activities occur 7 days a week, they were entered. Where family time is set aside - not knowing what we will do any given weekend - that too was entered.

What it showed me, beyond the fact that I really am pretty busy, is that I may be overstructuring my time on things that don't really matter.

I have come to realize that in reality we have the ability to do not as much as we would like to do in life - at least not well. There is an opportunity cost to every activity that I choose to do - even if it is an activity which does nothing more than please me. The questions I am starting to ask are 1) Is it truly worth it?; and 2) Is this something that, knowing what I know now, I would continue to do?

Fortunately, I think most of my activities fall into both of those categories. They are activities which I have chosen and stuck with over the years (imperfectly at times, to be sure). I have added a few new ones - iaido, for example - but there is nothing which I inherently need to discard.

It does bring up a second issue however: with a mere 7 hours a week free, if I want to do more I need to either stop doing something or figure out a way to use my time more wisely. Which brings us right back to the fact of what I really want to do with my life.

Life is like money. Am I getting the most value out of the time I have, squeezing every minute for what it's worth - or am I operating under the mistaken assumption that it is an endless resource, when in fact it could stop at any moment?

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