Are you wasting time while you could be making money?

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Illustration by Aaron Ughoc

The average millennial spends 315 hours per month using electronics for entertainment, and 160 of those hours are spent on videos alone according to a 2016 quarter 4 report by Nielsen.

It is not realistic to just cut video out of life completely, but cutting this time in half is a realistic goal. Dropping 80 hours per month is only a reduction of 2.8 hours per day from all electronic use, and this does not include listening to music. 80 extra hours of work per month means an extra 900 bucks.

An extra 900 bucks per month means renting an apartment closer to work and school becomes more feasible. Living near work or school means time saved on commuting. The average American spends 26 minutes commuting to work each way, which is about 18 hours per month just sitting in a car. That is an extra 200 bucks in wages if those 18 hours are spent working instead of driving.

The running tally is now an opportunity to make an extra $1,100 per month, or 98 hours saved for something more productive.

According to the Wall Street Journal, employed Americans also spend almost nine hours a day on weekdays sleeping (mostly). The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7–9 hours of sleep per night, but as few as six hours can be appropriate. For anyone at the upper end of this spectrum, cutting two hours of sleep each night might yield the same rested feeling with an extra 56 hours of time per month which is worth $630.
The total is now $1,730, or 154 hours of extra time.

Obviously, just because an hour or two is free during the day does not mean it can be spent working, but putting a dollar value on time makes it easier to evaluate daily usage of time.

What else can be done with an extra 154 hours a month? Josh Kaufman, author of The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business (not the fedora-clad winner of season six of The Voice), says learning a new skill only takes 20 hours. Seven new skills could be picked up per month.

More realistically, a valuable skill can be developed into proficiency every month. Do you really know how to use Excel? How well do you understand personal accounting? Have you ever wanted to learn to draw, paint, play an instrument, work on cars, or make things? All of which can increase income, and they have benefits that Hulu cannot give you.

Spending a lot of time wasting time is not the way to win. Auditing a daily routine to reduce unproductive uses of time can have positive financial or personal results.

To start figuring all this out, track how time is spent each day on activities. Make an estimated outline of the day, and then record how that time was actually spent. Start looking at what was mandatory and what was optional. At the end of the week, total all this time up in categories by use. Keep doing it all month long, and add up the weekly totals to find out how time was spent all month long. Sort time used by whether it was spent on mandatory activities, hobbies, studying, laying around, driving, sleeping, or anything else that fits.

This is decision-making criteria for streamlining life. Figure out what changes need to be made in order to eliminate wasted time, and make those changes.

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