Tag Archives: Prioritization

One Day Closer

Google / Wikipedia

Time. It moves in one direction: forward; and for every living thing on Earth, there’s only a finite amount of it. Time passes whether we like it or not and if you’re not careful it’s an easy thing to waste.

People nowadays are always so busy. At least they appear to be. When folks hear about all the creative endeavours I undertake, and all the things I do outside of work, the most common question I get is, “Where do you find the time?” Along the same lines, when I listen to people talk about all the things they have to do in their day one of the statements I hear most frequently is, “I don’t have enough time!

Well, I have an answer to the question and I’m calling bullshit on the statement right now.

Let’s look at the breakdown of a typical year for someone like myself. First, here are some high-level things about my post-secondary education life that will help give you an idea of how I got to where I am today:

Two years after I graduated in 1997 I married the girl I met in the first week of University. We now have a son, a daughter, a house in the suburbs, and two cats. I’m on my fourth office job/career since 1997 and my fifth house since 2001. It doesn’t take a genius to see that in the last twenty-something years, I’ve spent a lot of time husbanding, working, parenting, and apparently moving (I guess I was making up for spending the first nineteen years living in the same house, sleeping in the same bedroom, and mooching off my parents).

Wow, has it really been that long since I graduated? I suppose that’s a nice segue into another common question, “Where does the time go?

Where does the time go, indeed? With a little bit of hindsight and a spreadsheet, we can sort this all out. So let’s take the time and have a closer look. With finances, if you delve deeper into where you’re spending your money it becomes quite easy to figure out where you can save. Time, as it turns out, works the same way.

There are 8760 hours in a year.

  • I spend 8 hours a day sleeping (or trying to). 
  • I spend about 1 hour a day cleaning, grooming, going to the bathroom, and performing other solo activities (I suppose you could shower with somebody but I can guarantee you that you run the risk of it taking even longer than it would on your own, for various reasons I’ll leave up to your imagination). 
  • I spend another 1 hour per day preparing and eating meals. 
  • I spend about 260 hours in the year on family commitments like taking the kids to sports or driving them places or helping them with their homework. 
  • I spend about 182 hours in a year on health and exercise (yoga, walking, shooting hoops out on the driveway, etc…). 

So out of my original 8760 hours, I only have 4668 remaining (or roughly 53%).

That means 47% of my time, right out of the gate, is spoken for. That’s okay though, all those things I have spent it on are important. I’d probably be better off if the health number was higher and my kids would be better off if their homework/activities number was higher too, but in terms of committed time, non-negotiable time, I’m doing okay. Plus, I still have more than half a day to work with, right?

“Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day. You fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way.”

Roger Waters

As you can see from my background I have an office job. That job is a 30-minute drive in each direction from where I live as well. So what’s that worth in terms of time?

Well, if you count from when I get in the car in the morning to when I pull into the driveway in the evening my job takes 10 hours per workday out of the total. If you take out weekends, statutory holidays, and vacation/days off I end up working roughly 226 days out of the year. That’s another 2260 hours.

Now, where does that leave me?

My total remaining time for the entire year is 2408 hours.
That’s a titch more than 46 hours a week.
That’s an average of about 6.5 hours per day.

I have TONS of time. I have all the freaking time in the world!

But wait for a second, those averages assume a 365 day year. As mentioned, I don’t work on some of those days, and as you’ll see in a second they are bringing up the average considerably.

If we split my life into days in which I work and days in which I don’t work here’s how it unfolds:

  • On workdays, I am left with about 1 hour and 48 minutes per day “free time”. 
  • On non-work days that number spikes to 10 hours and 30 minutes.

So that’s how much time I have. As you can see, when I am working I have WAY less time than when I’m not working. This makes sense as someone else is paying for me to do things for them. Since I happily take their money twice a month it only seems fair I don’t spend most of my time doing other things. 

If I want more than 1 hour and 48 minutes on a workday then it has to come out of one of those other (supposedly non-negotiable) allotments. Lately, it’s been the exercise portion of the program. But how have I filled that time? Well, 60% of the time (about half an hour) has gone to writing or editing or some other creative endeavour. This is a decent substitution. The other 40% of the time has gone to watching Netflix or Facebook (or both). This might be a fine substitution for someone else, but for me it’s anything but, especially when you consider that a good portion of my 1 hour and 48 minutes at my disposal already goes to stuff like that.   

Non-work days tend to fill up with various obligations so the 10.5 available hours are a bit misleading. Long weekends are family weekends up at the cottage. It’s a two-hour drive each way (typically getting there on a workday and obliterating my hour and forty-eight, and then some). Soccer tournaments, family outings, birthday parties, yard work… you see how this goes. Perfectly reasonable things start taking up the time, and meanwhile, time keeps on slippin’… slippin’… slippin’… into the future.

But here’s the best part, there should always a little bit left. Try it. Get out your spreadsheet and write it all down. You’ll see.

A good number of you will look at your list of Things I Do and you’ll notice that you work too much, or don’t sleep enough, or sleep too much (lucky jerks). Another thing you will notice is that the list will easily divide into two categories: have-to-do and want-to-do. Once you’ve captured all the things you absolutely have to do, you can shift the blocks around and allocate a little more here and a little less there with all the things you want to do.

Here’s an interesting exercise:
List your job hours in the have-to-do column at the minimum you are contractually obligated to work (a more difficult task for self-employed folks and entrepreneurs, but do your best to quantify the minimum). If career advancement is something you desire then you put that in the want column, attach time to it, and then prioritize it.

You see, the time is there, accessing it is just a matter of prioritization. If you allocate time to one block make it a conscious decision and be aware of what other block pays the price. Want everything you want exactly when you want it? I hope you can adjust to getting a lot less sleep (Pro Tip: not recommended. Sleep is really good for you). Another approach would be to ensure time is always taken from lower priority items – the want-to-do stuff. If you can do that you’ll be surprised at how much time you actually have.   

Remember, there are only 8760 hours in a year. Use them wisely. You never know when you’re going to run out.

Pink Floyd “Time”

TBR Pile

“There is no friend as loyal as a book.”  – Ernest Hemingway

My daughter likes to read. I mean, she REALLY likes to read. She gets it from her mother, and both sets of her grandparents. Me? I like to read; I just haven’t done as much of it in my lifetime as I should have. It’s a terrible thing I know, but it is the truth.

I grew up with two educators for parents, my father being a sports nut and my mother a gym teacher and yoga fanatic as well. I read lots of books growing up. There were some Choose Your Own Adventure, of course. I read every single one of the Gordon Korman books. I also read: A Boy at the Leafs Camp (mandated reading for any kid growing up playing hockey in Toronto); Vladislav Tretiak’s book Tretiak: The Legend; and Ken Dryden’s The Game. My favourites though were The Great Brain series by John D. Fitzgerald.

In high school I focused on math and science, and if I’m being honest, reading all that mumbo jumbo turned me off reading in a big way. Plus, I was more interested in sports, girls, my friends, and general teenage shenanigans. Curling up with a good book wasn’t high enough on my list of priorities. That said, reading a bunch of books is unavoidable in high school. I did manage to avoid reading a lot of the usual books. Careful selection of English classes saw to that (my high school was quite large and we had ample choices of English classes).

So, my high school years weren’t filled with tons of reading for pleasure. If I did it was almost always a Stephen King book. Fast forward to university and it was all advanced calculus, computers, and applied physics. If you throw in a little bit of drinking and a fair amount of debauchery what you don’t get is too many novels piling up on the night stand.

Then I grew up, got married, bought a house, had kids, moved a few times, changed jobs a few times… and started writing. Over the last five years or so I’ve read more books than all my previous reading years combined. None of them will ever be “classics” but many were quite enjoyable to read and I’m a better writer for having read (most of) them.

I am a writer with another job that’s not writing and I also have a family and a social calendar. I will always be fighting the battle between writing, reading, and just sitting on my ass doing nothing. I yearn for a time when my entire existence isn’t one giant exercise in prioritization. In that vain, I’m left to wonder what’s the point of a TBR (To Be Read) pile? The damn thing never gets any smaller!

For every one I do read there’s ten more I want to read and ten more on top of those that I should read. I think the pile exists mainly because there’s comfort in its existence. It’s good to know that there will always be something there; always something to do; always an adventure waiting for me. All I have to do is open the cover and turn a page. Also, if there were no TBR piles then I would have less incentive to have my book sitting on top of one.


  1. Save the Cat
     – Blake Snyder (in progress)
  2. Signal to Noise
     – Gordon Bonnet
  3. The Key to Everything
     – Alex Kimmell
  4. Bigger Than Jesus
     – Robert Chazz Chute
  5. Savage Fire
     – Ben Langhinrichs
  6. Eleven
     – Carolyn Arnold
  7. Billy Purgatory: I am the Devil Bird
     – Jesse James Freeman

~ Andrew