The value of 168 hours?


Most people will agree that time is one of the most valuable resources they’ve got. Somewhere up there with health and the sense of social belonging. Yet, how we manage our time is quite messy and often driven by pop stereotypes instead of facts. We hear expressions like 24/7, 40-hour workweeks or 8-hour sleep nights, but very few of us put these time related “norms” into perspective or personal context, when it comes to actual “spending” habits. What’s more, lots of these time related sayings proved wrong in multiple studies [1] / [2] across countries. We tend to overestimate our “productive time“ and hugely underestimate the amount of time for useless activities. The truth is, we have no ideas how much time we spend and for what.

I struggled with time discipline myself. Recently I found a new approach to time management (or shall I say self-management within a time frame?). Instead of looking at 24-hour segments, we shall analyze the whole week (168 hours) as a habit cycle. One day is not enough to find patterns, and the weekends tend to be quite disruptive. A full week on the other hand is quite repetitive.

How can we break down 168 hours? On average we’ve got:

40h for work

56h for sleep

72h (for whatever the heck you want/need)

Turns out, we don’t spend most of our waking hours working. We tend to lose ourselves in mindless tasks - commute, TV, Internet, procrastination, housework, etc.

Now, here is an experiment:

For a full week, log all your hours using a calendar, spreadsheet or time tracking app. Write down everything and then try to find patterns or categories of time. Adjust each category as needed till you will reclaim a few hours for things that can make a different and improve your life.