8,760 Hours

You're going to die soon.

Sorry to be a downer but it's true. If you're like me and you live in the West, you're going to make it to 80 years old or so. If you're lucky.

Those 80 years are by no means guaranteed. You can get hit by a bus, catch a new Chinese supervirus or get crushed by a vending machine. (Which happens more often than you think)

So, 80 years. All told, that's almost 29,000 days. From your first moment in your mothers arms to your last rattling breath. 29,000 days. 29,000 times where you wake up, get dressed and have breakfast. All your happy memories, regrets, dreams and struggles. All encompassed in 29,000 days.

If you're currently 20 years old, 7,250 days have already passed by. A quarter of your life is gone. And if you're 40, you've hit the halfway-point. You've only got 14,500 days left. Your death-date is now closer than your birth-date.

Your life is short - whether you recognize it or not.

A day has 24 hours in it. No shit Sherlock. You know that. I know that. We all know that.

But did you know a year has 8,760 hours in it?

Maybe not. Puts things into perspective, doesn't it?

That little number encapsulates your entire year. The post-NYE hangover, the first day of spring, your summer holidays, that crazy Halloween party where you got stupid drunk, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Eve. All neatly wrapped up in those 8,760 hours.

If life is the culmination of small decisions, repeated over and over, then these 8,760 hours are your life. It’s in these hours that you chase your dreams and do the things that matter most. And with every hour and every day, we're living out our 29,000 days.

So why is it that almost no one realizes how they're spending their time?

Deconstructing A Year

Okay, so a year has 8,760 hours. Big deal, right?

Sometimes, a year can take forever. Seeing such a big number makes it feel like it lasts forever. Lord knows an hour seems to take forever when our flight gets delayed.

But not so fast there, cowboy.

Thing is; a large part of those 8,760 hours is already called for or is spent on the basic necessities of life.

  • 1. ) Sleep: You spend an average of 8 hours in bed per day - excluding weirdos who can live on 5 hours per night. These 8 hours include tossing and turning at night. That's 2,920 hours gone.
    Only 5,840 hours left.
  • 2. ) Work: Work a full-time job? If you're an average American, that comes down to 9 hours per day, or 45 hours per week. Multiply by 49 to account for time-off and you get ~2,200.
    Only ~3,600 hours left.
  • 3. ) Eating: All your meals average out to ~1 hour and 15 minutes per day. Multiply by 365 and you get 456 hours.
    Only ~3,100 hours left.
  • 4. ) Commute: Going back and forth to work takes up a lot of time. About 200 hours, in fact.
    Only ~2,900 hours left.
  • 5. ) Toilet-business: Everyone likes a good poop. So much so that we spend a little under two hours per week on the porcelain throne. That makes for ~100 hours.
    Only ~2,800 hours left.
  • 6. ) Miscellaneous: Random extras such as brushing your teeth, walking the dog, and getting groceries really adds up. As does man's favorite past-time: having sex. All told, let's call it another 300 hours.
    Only ~2,500 hours left.

So much for having 8,760 hours. In the end, about 3/4ths of our time is already spoken for.

These remaining hours is the time we've actually got to ourselves. All your hobbies, distractions, and diversions take place here. Our life is actively passing us by in these hours.

The way you spend this time is final and is what will actually count towards how well you live your life. It's set in stone. You're never getting those hours back. You've chosen to spend those limited 2,500 hours you've got.

And the mind-boggling part is that a lot of people spend their free time in the most frivolous way possible:

  • 1. ) Television: Americans aged 18 and older spend almost four and a half hours a day watching TV. From the moment they get home to the moment they go to bed, the TV is humming along in the background. That’s 1,600 of your valuable hours down the drain!
  • 2. ) Phone: As of last year, the average American used their smartphone three hours and 15 minutes per day. The top 20% even used their phones for up to 4.5 hours each day! Add it all up and it accounts for 1,200-1,600 hours per year. Anywhere between half to 2/3rd of your free time spent solely on your phone.

It's become very easy to riff on television. There's plenty of people who brag about not watching any TV but will happily spend the entire day glued to their phones.

Smartphone addiction is perilous. Many suspect it'll be the defining crisis of millennials and Gen Z. While I tend to agree, I'm more concerned with the loss of all these valuable hours. We hop on a carrousel of click-bait and listicles without them ever improving the quality of our lives.

We waste so much time. It almost boggles the mind.

People that are hyper-structured and rational about the way they spend their time during their work will often completely overlook the way they spend their free time.

It's in this limited free time where we actually live life. It's where we chase our dreams, fulfill our passion, and expand our mind. It's where we fall in love, write that screenplay, have deep conversations with friends, and read the literary classics. Some are chasing their dreams in these hours while others piss away their time binge-watching the newest Netflix series.

What separates a good life from a miserable one is the quality of the way we spend our time.

Putting Things In Perspective

I reread one particular article every three months. Hell, I've even got it printed out for easy reading. It's ‘The Tail End’ by Tim Urban from WaitButWhy.

It's easy to believe that we have infinite time. It's easy to think you'll never die. That it's something that only happens to other people.

It's easy for you to believe that you'll still have plenty of time to spend with your parents. Or that you can chase the dream of sailing around the world. Or to read all of Jane Austen's novels.

The reality is that you probably don't.

When considering the amount of time he had left with his parents, Tim noted the following:

It turns out that when I graduated from high school, I had already used up 93% of my in-person parent time. I’m now enjoying the last 5% of that time. We’re in the tail end.

I read about 30-40 books per year. And some basic math says I’ve probably got about 60 years left. That means that I’m only going to read another 1,800-2,400 books in my life. That’s it.

Knowing that, I will have to be a lot more picky in what books I decide to pick up. By picking up a trashy novel, I practically guarantee that I won’t be able to pick up some great classic in my lifetime.

Whatever it is you value most, do it now.

Be mindful about it.

Cherish it.

Life's Short

We've all got 8,760 hours. We all wake up with the same 24 hours ahead of us. And one day we wont. One day, you’ll only have a couple of hours left.

Some are conscious of how short 8,760 hours really is. Others are not. I fall in the latter camp, more often than not. I will fully admit life's passing me by at times.

I didn't write this article for clicks, likes, shares, or unique visitors. I wrote this as a letter to myself. A memento mori. You are one step closer to death, right now. Whatever dreams or ambitions you're putting off, know that you could potentially be putting it off forever.

Any task, given enough procrastination, leads to death.

It’s useless to wish for more time in our life. It is useful to wish for more life in our time though.

A year can feel like a lifetime if you fill it to the brim with new and exciting experiences. Travel, new friends, a new place to live, a new job. On the other hand, a decade can fly by if all you do is mindlessly following your routine. (For more on this philosophy, read Experientialism by my friend Braun Shedd)

In the end, we're all dead. More so than ever before, life can be brutally short.

Best make use of the limited hours we've got left.

Related Posts:

Sign Up For Friday Favorites!

Join the 500+ people who receive my Friday Favorites newsletter in their inbox every week. It's a mash-up of the most interesting links, books, and ideas I came across that week, as well as my latest articles and book notes. If you're curious and looking for high-quality information, you should definitely join.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.