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You Only Have 5 Hours In the Day To Work

The 8-hour Workday Isn’t Possible If You Want To Have A Life Outside Of Work

This is one of my cerebral posts where I tried to work backwards and figure out how many hours of my day I could comfortably dedicate to work. Work would be pretty much any money-preserving or money-making endeavor such as a job, freelance work, or consulting.

I worked backwards from what a healthy lifestyle would be, how many hours I would need to dedicate to routine parts of daily living. The number of hours left over were hours I could spend working. 

I’ll spare you the math but here are the categories I used to calculate my normal daily routine. Some things don’t happen every day, perhaps only a few times a year, I calculated everything on an annual basis and divided by 365 days.

  • Sleep
  • Shower/Toilet/Get dressed
  • Brush/Makeup/Hair prep
  • Exercise
  • Meditate/Lounge/Reflect/Pray
  • Read for mental stimulation
  • Talk/Chat with friends/partner/family
  • Bills/Emails/voicemail
  • Cook
  • Eat
  • Drive/Walk to a destination
  • Laundry/Cleaning the house
  • Medical/Dental appointments
  • Taxes/DMV/Licenses
  • Repair/maintain car/home/appliances

As you can see from this list none of these items are elective or for entertainment. Even reading, meditating and exercising falls into the category of required maintenance for the body/mind.

Working on a hobby, hanging out with family, socializing with friends, taking trips or going for an extended hike/bike/run is not on this list and would make the number of hours you have available to work even less. Sadly the average American puts little emphasis on such things so to keep up with tradition I didn’t include them but will address it in a second.

For that list I gave above you would need 6,770 hours per year. Any given year would have 8,760 hours. That leaves you with around 2,000 hours a year to do as you please – or around 5 hours per day.

The important point here is that you can’t bunch the hours up in one day and do 3.5 10-hour days because then one of those categories above would have to be sacrificed and get pushed onto the next day.

If we wanted to live a calm and happy life, a life filled with fun, family and friends where we have time to read for leisure, socialize and enjoy various forms of entertainment then I would say we would end up with only 3 hours per day.

A valid argument would be to farm certain things out such as cooking, laundry, mechanical work, taxes, etc. The downside to this would be that one would need more income in order to get this done which means having to work more. The hours gained by farming some work out cannot go to having more downtime or entertainment time, they have to be made up by work – it’s a fucked up cycle.

In order to get the 8-10 hours a day that many doctors put into their work certain things have to be sacrificed. Sure, the weekend is always there for the weekend warrior to catch up on stuff. I just can’t buy the argument that the lost sleep can be made up on the weekend. Or that the quality time spent with children/family can be pushed off to a day when one isn’t working. The reason being that the time you took away from your daily activities during the work-week have to be made up on the weekend – it’s kicking the can down the road essentially.

Most of you in my age group only have about 2600 weeks left to live on this earth, many of us will have much less and don’t even know it. It’s worth it to think about where our priorities lie and adjust our lifestyle accordingly.

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