We’ve all heard it and said it ourselves many times: “There just aren’t enough hours in the day to get it all done.” And, through my analysis over the past year, I have found that this is indeed the case. Not having enough time is not just a feeling, but an actual reality that we all face every day.
In my research on productivity, I consistently find that the most productive people don’t just work hard but they take care of themselves as well. So, I decided to experiment with my time each day to try to find the optimal use of every hour but, I haven’t been able to figure it out. Why not? Because there simply are not enough hours in the day.
It’s a basic and very simple math problem. Let’s start by looking at the two “big rocks” which basically account for two thirds of your day right off the bat.
- 8 hours for a good night’s sleep
- 8 hours at work
Next, let’s add in the necessary things that we just must do every day:
- 1.5 hours to prepare and eat three meals
- 1 hour to get ready
- 1 hour to commute
- 30 minutes for household activities
That leaves us with less than 4 hours to take care of everything else that we should be doing to be healthy and productive including the following:
- 1 hour to exercise
- 1 hour to spend with family
- 1 hour to read
- 30 minutes for mindfulness (meditation, yoga or journaling, etc.)
But now there’s no time left for the following fun activities which we would rather and often do spend our time doing including:
- Watching TV
- Checking Social Media
- Playing Games or Sports
So, to get it all done, we skimp on the amount of sleep we get, we avoid taking mental breaks and limit exercising to just a few times a week. To make time for the things we like to do, we neglect the things we should be doing simply because there are not enough hours in the day.
Here’s a visual breakdown of how we should ideally spend our time compared to how we end up spending our time:
One of my favorite TV shows is “24” and each season they save the world in 24 hours because they don’t sleep, eat, rest, socialize or even go to the bathroom! How’s that for being productive?
TRY THIS OUT: For the next few days track how you spend each hour of your day. How does it compare to the ideal breakdown of time? What are you spending more time on than you should and what are you not doing that you need to find time to do? Are there ways to adjust your schedule to find that optimal balance?
After 25 years in the corporate world, working at Lotus Development, Ernst & Young, The Weather Channel and Play On! Sports, Monisha Longacre has founded her own company, Productivity101 and created priorigami: the art of productivity. Her mission is to provide simple, actionable and easy-to-use tools to help busy adults track, prioritize and complete tasks, to better manage their time and become more productive. She designed priorigami to be the "Fitbit" for productivity to help people lead more meaningful lives.