Neil Tambe

I'm a Detroiter who happens to enjoy writing, national parks, orange juice, the performing arts, and fanciful socks. More than anything though, I aspire to be a good husband, father, and citizen.

Free Time Is Worth Protecting

On February 15, the daily question I asked on Facebook was, "What's one way you're trying to change this year?" I replied:

"Focus more on fewer responsibilities."

I've said this in the past, and failed to focus on fewer responsibilities. This time around, I decided to write down all the responsibilities I have and how much time I spend on them, just to see what I could cut down on. Here's a rough summary of what I budgeted for:

  • Sleep - 8 hours / day
  • Work - 10.5 hours / weekday (or more) and sometimes more on weekends
  • Eating / Cleaning Dishes and General Life Maintenance - 1.5 hours / day

Let me stop there for a second. Those three activities are essential, I can't realistically stop working, sleeping, or eating. Here's what's left:

168 hours / week (24 hours a day x 7 days a week)
- Sleep (56 hours / week)
- Work (52.5 hours / week, at least)
- Life Maintenance (11.5 hours / week)
= 48 hours left per week after accounting for non-negotiable activities

When I plotted this out, I was flabbergasted. Borrowing from the concept of disposable income in personal finance, my "disposable time" every week is only 48 hours.

Which is to say, everything non-essential to staying alive has to fit within 47 hours every week. That includes spending time with Robyn, family, friends and eventually kids. That includes reading and exercising. That includes personal correspondence and all side projects.

48 hours per week is a comically small amount of time to do the things most people believe make life worth living. I'd encourage you to do a similar audit of your own responsibilities. If you're anything like me, you'll be much more protective of your time and attention after counting out the hours.