I have had several friends make fun of me for my outlook on sleeping. As much as I enjoy it when I’m exhausted, I also resent it. No matter how long I (you) live, if sleep consumes six to eight hours per night, 25%-33% of a life is spent sleeping. That’s time that can never be gotten back. Yes… it’s necessary, but it’s also a big chunk of a life. It makes me ponder what each day holds and what we do with them.
Assuming you spend just six hours out of each day sleeping, that leaves eighteen hours. If you eat expeditiously, you spend another hour eating, leaving seventeen. If you drive a half hour each way to work and spend eight hours at work, you consume another nine and leave just eight hours for yourself. Yes, that’s different on days you don’t work, but every work day fairly conforms to this count. It leaves eight hours for you to do whatever most interests or best suits you. Most of us don’t really get that time. We have to spend it doing chores such as cleaning, doing laundry and caring for family members – the elderly or the young. For those properly motivated or disciplined, somewhere between a half and a full hour is given over to exercising and then another half hour to hygiene (hopefully the hygiene happens whether the exercise does or not).
Taking out times for chores, exercise, hygiene, family time, etc… what do you really have left? Thinking about that, then the question becomes: With what little free time you have in each day, do you get full value out of it?
The answer depends on what you consider “full value.” Are you a couch potato? Do you read books? Do you play games? Are you creative? Are you charitable with your time? Do you assist others?
There are so many ways “free” time can be spent but the reality is that no time is free. As time passes, that much of your life is lost… and can never be recovered. The price of the time that passes is an equivalent amount of time subtracted from your life time. With time being set as irreplaceable and therefore of value beyond measure, have you ever stopped to consider whether or not you’re getting full value out of the time you spend?
As has been said in any number of leadership courses, there is a distinct difference between spending time and wasting time. Spending time wisely means investing it or at least seeing some positive result from whatever you are doing while it passes. If you are accomplishing nothing then you are wasting your time. That said, “accomplishing nothing” doesn’t strictly mean doing nothing. If you are relaxing and that relaxation helps to recharge your emotional batteries, then you ARE accomplishing something. Recovery-focused relaxation is as important as sleeping for our mental and emotional well-being. Keeping that in mind, whether or not your “down time” is productive depends on the purpose and what’s accomplished during it.
What’s a shame is when someone wastes time doing things that are personally harmful, harmful to others or have no positive impact in general. That’s not a difficult limitation to wrap your head around. Simply do no harm to yourself or others and the days not wasted. If you can find or make time to do something positive for yourself or someone else, then it’s a bit of time you can invest. Grow, learn, increase your fitness level, do something good for someone else… any of these things are positive and can make the day worth having passed.
The only and biggest challenge is this: evaluating how your time is spent… or invested… or wasted. Only you can determine if you’re doing anything of value with it. The key consideration is… the time is passing no matter what. As each day goes by, are you getting anything of value out of it? Are you getting maximum value out of it?