Have you ever set your watch five minutes fast to stop you from being late? Yea, me too. But the problem is, you know it’s five minutes fast, so you end up just subtracting five minutes every time you look at your watch. It doesn’t work. What you really need, is for someone else to set your watch a few minutes fast without you being aware of it. That’ll work — for a while at least. But, if you aren’t aware that someone’s adjusted your watch, does that mean your time’s been stolen? Have you just lost five, ten minutes of life? And if time can be stolen, just how much can be taken from us?
There are 168 hours in a week. But how many of those hours are actually yours to live? You know, to do the things you keep saying you want to do more of: cycling, sewing, knitting, rowing — all those things ending with, ‘-ing’.
In a typical working week, doing an eight-hour shift, you’re losing 40 hours a week. And we’ve got to work, right? Time is money, after all. We need that stuff to help with the living part. And if we sleep eight hours a night (as we should), that’s 56 hours per week in the land of nod. That leaves 72 ‘free’ hours per week.
But then, let’s factor in your commute to work, all that housework you need to do, the kids that need chauffeuring, the shed that needs varnishing. Plus grooming, washing, and personal hygiene-ing. What are you left with? Maybe 50, 60 hours?
How are we treating those hours? Are they our most prized possession? Do we measure each minute out, like we’re dealing in precious stones? Ofcourse we don’t. We leave our time hanging out our back pockets, in unclasped bags, in unlocked rooms, letting pick-pockets and time-thieves take what they want.
Television steals hours from us. The average Briton watches 24 hours of TV per week (that adds up to about a decade over the course of a lifetime). TV companies sell this time of yours to advertisers, who compete to impress us with their elaborate pitches. Then we spend another few hours in shops or online, buying all of the things we never knew we needed.
Is watching TV ‘living’? It’s a choice, I suppose. And one I make regularly too — I’m not immune to TV’s powerful story-telling, and, in weaker times, junk-food for the eyes. But, 24 hours a week? Wow.
And then we have social media. In the UK, the average person spends 11 hours a week on Facebook et al. Some people would never give this up. It is their lives now. I can’t judge (please retweet this).
Have you been keeping up with the maths? For argument’s sake, let’s look at the worst-case scenario…
Let’s just assume your time spent doing chores and sat in front of screens isn’t what you value most in life. Let’s pretend, that stuff won’t be part of the highlights reel when you look back on how you spent your days on Earth. How many hours are we left with to do what we really want to do, to see the people we really like, to be the person we want to be?
I work it out to be around 20 hours a week*. Or, 2hrs 42 minutes a day. That’s the exact run-time of The Godfather: Part III — a film that won’t be making my highlights reel.
This is the paragraph where I consolidate my very obvious point and preach about how time is precious and all the guff you’ve heard before – words that are so easy to ignore when you’re watching Ex on the Beach. I’m not going to do that. I’d be a hypocrite if I tried. But, I will save you some time if you haven’t seen The Godfather: Part III. This line pretty much sums up the whole film:
“Just when I thought I was out… they pull me back in.”
How many minutes of yours have I just stolen? Sorry about that.
*Just to clarify my maths: 168hrs in a week – 40hrs work – 52hrs sleep – 20hrs commute/chores/grooming – 24hrs TV – 11hrs social media = 20hrs per week ‘free’ time.