You’re Full of It 5

We’re all full of it. You, me, writers, construction workers, everyone.

And of course that thing we’re full of is time.

There’s an old story that floats about as a source of motivation which conflates the time in a day with currency. The idea is simple: You get $1,440 at the start of the day. At the end of the day, whatever money you have left over is gone forever. It just dissolves to dust, and you can’t get it back.

Knowing these rules, you’d spend every dollar, right? You can’t save it, get gift cards, or put it in your Amazon account. There’s no cheating here. Whatever’s left over of the $1,440 at midnight is gone forever. All you have left are the goods and services you bought with it.

Well, why don’t we start thinking about the time we have in a day this way? There are 1,440 minutes in a day. If you spend eight hours sleeping a day, you get $960 left to spend. I mean minutes, whatever.

Personally, I always thought this idea had its flaws. It’s a bit simple and the comparison isn’t perfect. But!

But the important thing is this: Each day, we have decisions to make. Are we going to work on that important homework assignment, or watch several more episodes of a TV show we’re trying to catch up on?

Or if you’re not in school, are you going to spend a half-hour tidying up or maybe reading a book? Or are you going to spend several hours playing video games?

Trust me, I’m not innocent in this. Like I mentioned before, I had to ask someone to hide a video game from me until the end of the school semester. (In fact, I was tempted to go look for it the day I’m writing this, so it’s a good thing it was hidden.)

But it’s often harder to criticize our own decisions, so I’m going to tell you about someone else’s. If they read this post, they’ll know who they are, but they shall remain anonymous to you, reader. (And don’t worry, I’ve already been critical on this topic face-to-face, so I’m not talking behind this person’s back.)

Anyway, here goes. I was talking about books I’d read recently, probably sharing some of my favorites and why I think everyone should read them. Then, this person said, “I wish I had more time to read.”

Curious, and pretty sure I knew the answer, I probed: “How much TV do you watch each night?”

“About three hours.”

Three hours.

Like I said, I can’t claim innocence here. I put 80 hours into Breath of the Wild in about two weeks. That’s a full-time work schedule. I’m not proud. This is why I’m not allowed to play the game until summer.

The point is, this person said they do not have enough time to read, yet I just found three hours that they could probably cut back to two. Even just two and a half.

If you want to read, and you spend three hours doing something that’s not necessary to your day, you can give yourself thirty minutes to do something else. I promise you, if you start reading just thirty minutes a day, you won’t switch that above statement to “I wish I had more time to watch TV.”

No one strives to watch more TV.

I had a “Gaming Bucket List” of games I wanted to beat at one point. It mainly included every game I owned plus a few others that were sequels or tie-ins to games I liked. Eventually I realized how wasteful this was and destroyed the list. I also sold the games (which netted me a cool three-hundred bucks thanks to some rare items).

This all goes back to the idea of the things you can live without for a week. There are the things we can’t live without; those we can; and the things that make us better, more productive people. We have to make decisions every day about what activities are actually important to us, and which ones we can skip. It’s okay to have fun, but it’s important to have priorities.

All I’m saying boils down to this: If you think you don’t have enough time, you’re full of it.

Photo by Omar Prestwich on Unsplash

About David Shank

David T. Shank is a writer, runner, and musician, in that order. His blog is hopefully an oasis among the vast ocean of negativity that is the Internet. He lives in Cleveland studying how to write good.

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5 thoughts on “You’re Full of It

  • A.S. Akkalon

    I totally agree that a lot of people fritter away a lot of time and then complain that they can’t seem to find time to do the things they value.

    However, I think it’s also important to acknowledge that some people have a lot of commitments. Maybe they have to work or study 60 or 80 hour weeks. Maybe they have young children or elderly parents to care for. Maybe they’ve taken on a lot of responsibilities in their communities. Some people genuinely have few hours that they can choose to spend how they like.

    I think the idea that we can all do everything is as damaging as wasting half the day watching TV. Stress, burnout, and other negative consequences of too many responsibilities and not enough down time are real and can be very serious.

    I would say (and I’m sure this is what you meant) that you should examine closely what you do spend your time on before you go complaining that you don’t have enough time for X.

    • David Shank Post author

      Very well put, and that is certainly a much fairer way of phrasing what I meant.

      This post is for people who squander away the time they have and then complain about it. The people who want to read more, yet won’t give up their TV time to do it. The people who literally don’t have any time to do these things are excepted from this.

      There is, however, an account I read about an author who switched from his day job to a career in writing by changing his routine so that he got up at 5:30 every morning and wrote until he had to go to work or his family was awake.

      I don’t mean to say we have to take on a “no excuses” mentality. What I mean is where there’s a will, there’s a way.

      • A.S. Akkalon

        I agree, to some extent. People talk about “getting up earlier” as if that creates more hours in the day. It doesn’t. It either means you get less sleep, which beyond a point is terrible for your health in the long run, or you lose hours in the evening because you go to bed earlier. In some circumstances this means you can get in more productive time because you’re up for longer when your family members are asleep, but you’re still going to be losing either sleep or time in the evening.

        • David Shank Post author

          I don’t disagree with you at all. I just can’t personally speak from a place of being so busy that I can’t turn some of that time into writing time. I’m speaking from a place of being someone who regularly makes excuses to not write and wastes much of the day. I’m getting better. I’m no perfect exemplar of change, and this post is as much for me as it is for anyone who needs it.

          I think it’s important that people recognize when they are too busy because of things that are out of their control to take on a new routine like writing. This post is supposed to be a reminder that we get to choose what we do with our downtime. Perhaps it missed the mark a little bit, but I’ll be coming back to a similar idea from a different angle.

          • A.S. Akkalon

            I get where you’re coming from and I totally agree. It’s much more common that a person is bad at managing their time than they genuinely don’t have enough. I find the more time I have the worse I am at managing it. 🙂