The “I don’t have time” myth

I hear it all the time:

“I don’t have time to write.”
“I don’t have time to workout.”
“I don’t have time to eat healthy.”
“I don’t have time to read.”

I have one thing to say: BS!

Wait…there is one thing that you don’t have time for. Bronchitis. Ain’t no body got time for that. 🙂

A new research study from Brown University has found that if you spend an hour a day commuting, you surrender sleep, exercise, eating with your family, and food preparation—but not TV time. In the study, even people with the longest daily commute (three hours) managed to get in watch over an hour and a half of TV every day, but only 14 minutes of exercise.

Wait a second – you drive for three hours a day and can still spend over an hour and a half watching TV?! Americans spend an average of 2.8 hours a day watching TV. That’s almost 20 hours a week – half of a work week, spent every week. Watching TV. No one is going to spend their last hour alive thinking, “I wish I would have watched some more Teen Mom.”

The whole driving issue had me wondering – how much time (and money) do we waste driving?

Let’s say you live the average 16 miles away from your office. At the IRS total estimate for driving ($0.51/mile), that’s $16.32 a day in direct driving expenses. If you have two cars, that’s over $85,000 over 10 years. That’s a lot of money.

It’s one of the biggest reasons I live downtown, about 1.5 miles away from the office. Far enough to not feel like I live at the office, but close enough to not spend so much of my life driving. Take the example of 16 miles way, about 25 minutes away. That’s over 200 hours a year in a car.

200 hours year in a car, 1,022 hours watching TV a year. A total of over 1,200 hours a year that could be completely avoided. That’s about 60% of a work year (most companies estimate there are about 252 working days a year).

So, what can you do to get more time? Here are a couple of things that I do:

  • I watch VERY little TV. I only watch a small handful of shows, so I make sure I love them (Top Gear and How I Met Your Mother, anyone?).
  • I live very close to work. That saves me tons of time (and money) every year.
  • I get up early every morning. While I don’t roll into the office until about 9:30, I’m usually up at 6:30 getting things done from bed (much like this blog post).
  • Don’t spend too much time working out. Most modern research shows that there is no reason to work out more than 3x week. Body By Science (which I’m reading right now), argues that you can work out as little as 12 minutes a week.
  • Say “no” to the good things so you can say “yes” to the great things. Everyone wants your attention. Be selective.
  • Put projects on accelerated time frames. Why? Won’t that make you more busy? Look at Parkinson’s Law – the thought that a project will expand to fill the time allotted to it. If you work on a lot of different projects, you know how true this is.
  • Be realistic. Even though you shouldn’t drag on projects, be realistic about what’s on your plate. Allow time for urgent things to come up.
  • Take time to be with friends. Even if you’re busy, the right friends will lift you up and give you more energy.

What do you do to give yourself more time? Let me know in the comments.

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