Tuesday, February 3, 2009

What would you do with an extra 15 minutes?

Real Simple magazine posed a question to its readers a few months ago: What would you do with an extra 15 minutes per day?

The answers had an incredibly wistful tone. People said they'd kiss more. They'd write real thank you letters. They'd write in their journals. They'd linger in the bath, make photo albums and pause to appreciate fond memories.

Of course, the more I think about the 168 Hours concept, and the more I write about and study the issue of time, the more absurd I find this question. If you sleep 8 hours per night, that leaves 112 waking hours per week. If you work 36 hours per week -- average for moms who are in the workforce full-time -- that leaves a solid 76 waking, non-work hours to tackle your other priorities. If you work 40 hours, that leaves 72. If you work 50 -- more than 90% of working mothers -- that leaves 62. If you work 60 -- more than 99% of all employed Americans -- that leaves 52.

That's still a fair chunk of time -- far more time than the average stay-at-home mom, for instance, spends caring for or playing with her kids. If you're not tackling your personal priorities in 52 hours per week, or 62, or 72 for that matter, would it change things to suddenly have 73.75 hours? That's the equivalent of an extra 15 minutes per day.

In other words, if you think it's important to smooch, write letters, make photo albums, sit in the tub or what have you, and you're not doing it, you have a motivation problem, not a time problem. It's as if the readers assumed that in an extra 15 minutes per day, they'd become different people.

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