Time Is Precious

May 18, 2013 – How much of our lives do we spend on mundane activities?

By The Cerebral Aesthetic Vagabond

Although I have previously asserted that time does not exist and still believe that, nevertheless, what we think of as time is a precious commodity. Of course, I’m far from the first person to make that observation, but while lying awake at 3 AM this morning and in lieu of counting sheep I pondered how much of our lives are engaged in mundane, daily activities and compiled the succinct table below.

Assuming a 72 year lifespan, because that age makes the arithmetic work out to nice round numbers, how much of one’s total life (Y) is spent for each one minute of the day (X) consumed?

Which reduces to the following simple equation:

In other words, to find out how many years of one’s entire life is spent on a daily task, simply divide the number of minutes spent on that task each day by 20 and that yields the total number of years of one’s life spent on that task. This is one instance in which a longer lifespan is not necessarily better, because the longer one’s life, the more time is spent on these mundane tasks! So with the aid of our nifty equation, here’s how much of our entire lives we spend on ordinary activities.

Activity Hours And Minutes Per Day (HH:MM) Years Of Entire Life
Making bed 00:01 0.05
Grooming 00:05 0.25
Showering 00:05 0.25
Washing hands 00:05 0.25
Using toilet 00:10 0.50
Having sex (hey, it’s “mundane” to some people!) 00:15 0.75
Cleaning house 00:15 0.75
Brushing teeth 00:20 1.00
Washing laundry 00:30 1.50
Yard work 00:30 1.50
Commuting to and from work 01:00 3.00
Reading 02:00 6.00
Eating, cooking, washing dishes (three meals a day) 03:00 9.00
Watching television (conservative) 04:00 12.00
Working 06:00 18.00
Sleeping 08:00 24.00

I recognize that the total number of hours above exceeds 24, but the times given are merely my offhand estimates for individual activities and the entire list is not intended to describe a person’s daily schedule, and not everyone engages in these activities anyway. Moreover, in multi-person households the chores listed above would presumably be shared by the people in the household. I also neglected to list most leisure activities because they are less frequent and differ in variety from person to person. Finally, the figures above do not take childhood and retirement into account, so adjust them accordingly.

It’s amusing to me that I compiled the above list while “sleeping” because that’s one of my least favorite activities, an utter waste of time in my opinion, but unfortunately an inescapable one. But imagine gaining 24 years of life by avoiding sleeping! How I envy those people I’ve read about who didn’t require sleep. Of course, they probably did sleep, but a little bit at a time so that it didn’t interfere with their other activities. I wish I could break with tradition and train myself to sleep like that.

I do spend about 20 minutes brushing and flossing my teeth each day, so that adds up to an entire year of my life! Imagine spending an entire year, 24 hours a day cleaning one’s teeth. It’s pretty shocking to see how much time certain activities, such as television watching (12 years), can add up to over a lifespan.

The End