I recently attended a seminar where Professor Chukwuma Soludo spoke extensively on time management and it occurred to me that I’ve not really been paying attention to the critical nature of time and its usage. We all hear and use quotes about time:
- Punctuality is the soul of business.
- Time is of essence.
- Time is like a cab; it keeps reading.
- If you lose one minute in the morning, you’ll spend the whole day looking for it.
- Early to bed, early to rise.
- He who does not rise early makes progress in nothing.
These are classic but common quotes on time but I’ll like us to look at time practically.
There are 24 hours in a day. That gives you about 168 hours in week, 720 hours in a month and about 8640 hours in a year. Before we look at the different things we do with our time, let us understand that life expectancy in Nigeria is between 53 and 54 years for male and female respectively. This is according to World Health Organizations ranking table 2015. No wonder you hear many Nigerians these days say “life is short” and we celebrate 50th birthday like it’s the last. Of about 183 countries on that list, Nigeria is better than only five; our position is 177; we no try? Don’t ask me why, just visit any public hospital especially the teaching hospitals, visit food processing plants and drive round the slums in Lagos; look around your own environment; think about the quantity of fake drugs recently destroyed by NAFDAC; think about how much you care for your health, you’ll understand that it’s a self-inflicted position. In fact I think the UN is magnanimous. This is a topic for another day anyway.
Sorry for digressing, let us go back to the discussion on time. Looking at the average life expectancy in Nigeria, it means one has an average of 466,560 hours to live. Life after fifty is obviously considered less productive. Now, let us look at the different things we spend our time doing:
Sleep: An average adult sleeps for 6-7 hours everyday. Out of 24 hours, 7 is spent sleeping. That gives you 49 hours a week, and about 210 hours in a month. Therefore, out of the 8,640 hours in a year, 2520 hours is spent sleeping. At 54, one would have spent 136,080 hours sleeping. That is about 1/3 of one’s entire life.
- Gist/Gossip: According to an online publication by Daily Mail, ladies spend an average of 5 hours everyday on gossip. This includes those at work. I can guarantee that housewives spend like 18-20 hours gossiping. But, fair enough, let’s use the five hours report. Spending 5 hours everyday on gossip would mean 35 hours a week, 150 hours a month, and 1,800 hours in a year. At 54, one would have spent 97,200 hours talking about fashion, dates, shopping, cosmetics etc. and that’s about 21% of one’s entire life. I also want to say that these days; studies have also shown that men gist and gossip as much as women do. Men talk about dates, women, politics and sports. A football match is about 2hours plus-minus. Men sit to watch and argue over matches for 4hours at a stretch. When there is no football match, it’s politics. Most of the arguments are irrelevant, sentimental and biased. Almost ¼ of one’s entire life is spent on this.
- Social Media: With the current exponential increase in the usage of the social networking sites, studies have shown that it takes average of 2 hours off one’s productive time everyday. This does not include the use of social media for marketing or vital information dissemination. Two hours everyday means 14 hours every week and about 60 hours in a month. This gives us 720 hours a year and 8640 hours in 54 years. This takes 18.5% of one’s entire life.
- Television: Studies carried out by The New York Times in June 2016 revealed that adults watch television on the average of 5hours per day. This gives us another 35hours per week, 150hours per month, and 1800 hours in a year. This is relative anyway because electricity is menacingly poor in a country like Nigeria. But we do spend a lot of time watching television. In fact, most times, we spend money on petrol just to watch our favorite television programme.
The table above shows that we spend average of 18hours out of 24hours in a day doing unproductive things.
We may not be able to avoid most of the activities above especially number one which is equally vital to productivity but we can seriously checkmate them while putting other vital activities into consideration. Such other activities may include:
- Exercise: We are expected to exercise the body for two hours everyday. We can minimize the hours spent on television and gossip/gist to accommodate exercises. It is a well-known fact that walking out or engaging in other minimal exercises improves one’s health and increases one’s life span.
- Reading: Our first hour of the day should be dedicated to reading. If we spend an hour every morning reading, we would have spent 7hours a week and about 30hours in a month. We can read anything that adds value to our lives especially The Holy Book and other motivational and business titles. Reading is one of the greatest habits every success-conscious individual must cultivate. What exercise does to the body is what reading does to the mind. If you live in the world without reading, you might leave the world without any evidence of your existence.
He who does not read has no advantage over he who cannot read- Mark Twain
- Meditation: Finding time to meditate is as important and valuable as life itself. It does not only improve your spiritual self, it also improves one’s health. Meditation involves relaxing oneself physically and mentally. Get to a quiet and a secure place; forget about every other thing in life and release yourself completely. This kind of relaxation also improves your emotional stability; it gives you the opportunity to empty and detoxify your mind leaving you refreshed and renewed. An hour meditation a day can make a difference.
These three areas identified last are the road less travelled. If we can do more of these and less of some mentioned before-less of gist/gossip, less of social media and less of television, our 6-9 hours of our daily productive would be efficient and ultimately effective. Give it a try.