Time scarcity

I have a scarcity mindset when it comes to time. I’m constantly thinking about how long something will take and the opportunity cost of doing that thing vs. another thing. But the joke here is that worrying about how I’m spending my time probably causes me to waste more time. The opportunity costs paralyse me, and so instead of doing something productive, I get stuck doing nothing.

Let’s do some maths then, and figure out how much time I actually have. At the time of writing this, I am 27 years old. The male life expectancy in the UK when I was born was 77 years. So I can expect to live for 50 more years. That is 18,262.5 days or 438,300 hours.

If we assume 8 hours per day sleeping on average and another 4 hours for administrative type tasks (cooking, cleaning, washing etc.) then we have 219,150 hours left. That is 219,150 hours to be spent however I choose to spend them. Now, what about work? Let’s assume I will retire at 65 (I plan to retire much earlier than that but let's set it there anyway), and that I work 229 days (255 weekdays minus 30 days of holiday) per year. I then have 8,550 working days left in my life or 64,125 hours.

So to sum up, I have 155,025 - 219,150 hours to decide what to do with. That is a lot of time. Malcolm Gladwell controversially claims it takes 10,000 hours to become world-class at something, so in theory, I can become world-class at almost 22 different things throughout my lifetime. And yet most people won’t even manage to become world-class at a single thing. You have to take away from this that most time is wasted time, so it must only take a marginal improvement in time used to have vastly larger gains. Or to put it another way, to become world-class in a topic, you only need to spend 5% of your productive time on it (admittedly, you then won’t become world-class until the end of your life) which is 36 minutes per day.

The takeaway then - there is more than enough time. Just remember you’ve got another 50 years to do stuff and everything takes time.