So you just took a long coffee break? Do you know how much would all breaks over your lifetime would total to? That’s right, 2.2 years. What if you tried totaling this for all your daily activities?
Are you aware how much of your life goes by in daily activities such as brushing your teeth, driving to work, eating food and coffee breaks? Well, the answer will surprise you. You think a life span of 80 years is long, don’t you? But what if I tell you that you spend 5 years of your life walking? Knowing the time you spend over your lifetime on routine activities will urge you to start living a fulfilled life right now.
We will go through all your routine activities in a day and total the time they consume. Now, what if you repeat the activity enough times for your lifetime in one stretch? For example, if you started driving now and drove the total distance that you would over your lifetime, how long do you think you would take? We will find that out.
Let’s go by your daily sequentially taking one activity at a time. I am assuming a life span of 80 years for these calculations.
Brushing your Teeth
Your day starts with brushing your teeth. At least, I hope it does. As per the American Dental Association, the actual act of brushing takes an average of 45 seconds. As per dentists, a human being must brush for 3 minutes for good oral hygiene, but neither do most people know this nor do they care.
Brushing is followed by rinsing the mouth and cleaning up. In total, you spend a total of 3 minutes on brushing your teeth. Based on the calculated figure, you spend 2 months of your lifetime brushing your teeth. If you are more hygienic and brush twice a day, you are spending 4 months of your life keeping your teeth clean.
Taking a Shower
Whether you take a shower early in the morning or not varies from person to person. Some people shower early in the day, some shower after their workout and some shower in the evening. For simplicity, I am assuming you shower in the morning.
Well, averages can be tricky and the number can drastically vary for you. I am sure you know a friend who spends an hour in the shower doing who knows what. You also know another friend who is in and out of the shower in 2 minutes leaving you wondering if he did really shower.
Taking the average number of 8.2 minutes, you spend close to 6 months of your lifetime bathing.
While we are on the topic of showers, here are two interesting facts for you. First, bathing with hot water daily strips your skin of oils and protective bacteria. Second, the water spent on a daily shower is approximated to be 65L. Over your entire life, the water that you spend on showering can be used to water 98 football fields. Now you have more than one reason to not bathe daily.
The time required to get ready has a wide range. People take anywhere from 11 to 30 minutes to get ready. I will consider a conservative 15 minutes because most people need those many minutes between starting to dress up and getting into the vehicle.
Let us consider the routine for most. 5 day work week(needs dressing up), 1 day of the weekend going out(needs dressing up) and 1 day of the weekend spent at home(no dressing up). Based on these statistics you will spend 260 days or close to 9 months of your life dressing up.
Driving to work
Whether you travel in your own vehicle, take a cab or public transport, you will need time to reach your workplace/school. On average, a person spends 1 hour in total driving to and fro. As per the American Foundation for Traffic, the average was 52 minutes in 2014. Since then the traffic has increased and most would agree on spending 30 minutes to get to work and 30 minutes to get back.
Though you can drive only from the age of 18, you travel to go to school after you are 5 years old. Let us also factor in the fact that the drive reduces after you are 75. We will use the same logic of a 5 day work week with 1 day of the weekend spent at home and 1 day going out. By these calculations, you spend a little over 2 and half years of your lifetime inside a vehicle. You spend more than half the time you spent on your graduation in a vehicle.
For a span of 70 years(excluding early 5 and last 5 years of an 80-year span), you travel a distance of 763,000 miles. Do you know what you could have done instead? You could have driven to the moon, come back home and then driven back to the moon again.
To calculate the number of hours spent working per day, we will use an 8 hour work day and subtract the breaks.
As per a 2019 survey, the average lunchtime is 35 minutes. Most people take 4 other breaks of 10 minutes each. These breaks are divided between coffee breaks, smoking breaks and chit chatting. In reality, employees are said to work for less than 3 out of the 8 working hours. However, let us keep that aside for now and only subtract the lunch break and the other breaks which total to 75 minutes. We are left with 6.75 working hours in a day.
6.75 hours of work 5 days a week translates to 14 years over your lifetime. Isn’t that quite a big chunk of your life?
As mentioned earlier, the worldwide average for lunch is 35 minutes. By these numbers, you end up spending 2 years of your lifetime on lunch.
Overall in a day, the average time spent eating and drinking is 67 minutes. Weekends call for more eating and drinking with an average of 77 minutes. I am not sure if this study takes into account the time spent partying for hours of drinking.
The numbers for eating and drinking total to 3.5 years of your lifetime. Did you ever before think that you spend over 3 years of your life on eating and drinking alone? I doubt it. Next time you take a long lunch break, think again.
We all need a break from time to time, don’t we? Some prefer to chit chat, some prefer to have a coffee during their break, some prefer to smoke and some prefer to smoke with a coffee. Irrespective of how you spend your break time, 4 short breaks of 10 minutes each seem reasonable. You need at least 10 minutes to walk to an area where you can smoke, finish the smoke and get back.
The 40 minutes spent each day on breaks span to 2.2 years of your lifetime. For smokers, the average number of cigarettes is 9 per day which requires 90 minutes. Assuming you started smoking at the age of 20 and smoke for the rest of your life, you are spending 3.75 years of your life smoking. Phew, isn’t that a lot of smoke in your lungs?
Whole working day:
Including the breaks, lunch, and work, 8 hours go by either working as an adult or studying as a student. From age 5 to 75, you end up spending 17 years of your life working.
Relaxing, family time and miscellaneous
There is no study performed to get an average of all these activities. We spend some time relaxing, freshening up after we get home. We read the newspaper, watch TV, spend time talking to our loved ones, cook food, take a dump/leak and so on. More time is spent over the weekends relaxing. I have assumed 1 hour of time with family, 30 min of TV/newspaper and 10 min of washroom activities. By those assumptions, an average of 1 hour 40 minutes per day seems reasonable for all of these activities combined.
1 hour 40 minutes per day on all these translate to 5.5 years over your lifetime.
It is recommended to sleep 8 hours but in the current world, most sleep fewer hours. On average, people sleep for 6.8 hours a day.
You can already see it coming, isn’t it? Over your 80-year life span, you spend close to 23 years of your life sleeping. Were you saying you were not getting enough sleep?
An average American adult uses a smartphone for 2 hours 51 minutes a day. Assuming you start using phones from age 10 and use them until age 70, you are spending 7.1 years of your life on smartphones. If there is one major area to name which is the biggest waste of time, you now know what it is. These 7 years are not spent separately because smartphone usage happens during work, lunch, traveling and so on.
An average person walks close to 6000 steps in a day. Each step takes 1 second to complete. Assuming an average of 6000 steps from the age of 5 to 75 and fewer steps for the other 10 years, an average person spends 5 years of his life walking. Again, these 5 years are not spent separately because you walk throughout the day.
Over your lifetime, you walk over at total distance of 115,000 km. You could walk the whole diameter of Saturn instead. If someone complained about you not exercising enough, show them this stat.
Let us look at how would life be if you went through life one activity at a time in a sequence.
We will start from age 5 because most of the activities do not hold before you turn 5.
By the time you finish brushing your teeth you would have turned 5 years and 4 months.
Once you head to shower next, shampoo, soap, dry yourself and step out of your bathroom, you will have turned close to 6 years old.
It is time to get ready. You pick your clothes, dress up, spray some deodorant, apply some makeup. When you are ready, you are 7 years old. Are you sure the same clothes will be fashionable? Almost an year would have elapsed from the time you started getting ready to the time you finished.
You are now into your vehicle traveling either to school or work. Put on your seat belt because this will be one hell of a long drive. By the time you reach your destination, you would have turned 8 years old.
It is time to start working. If you hated working 8 hours a day, brace yourself. You will have to work for far longer to get through. You go through the first half of the day working/studying for 7 years. When it is time for lunch, you will be 15 years old. That was quite a long wait, so you deserve a lot of food, don’t you? Don’t worry, you will get more food than you might like.
You have to eat and drink not only to satisfy your hunger of 7 years but also to survive for the rest of your life. Therefore, we will club all the chit chat/smoking breaks, weekend dinners together. After a hearty meal, you realize that you are over 20 years old.
You realize that you only went through the first half of your working day so far. You get back to work waiting for the day to be over. The wait might be long, but the best part is once you are done you no longer have to work again. Unfortunately, good things come at a cost, which implies you would have turned 27 years old when you are done with work.
You now have to drive back home which will take another year turning you 28 years old.
Once you get home, you relax, spend time with your family, watch TV, read the newspaper, take a dump/leak. By the time you finish you are more than 33 years old.
Now you are at the sweet point in your life where you are free to do whatever you like before you sleep. The scary part though is once you sleep, you sleep till your death. You never wake up again.
Since you will sleep for 23 years straight, you will have to go to bed when you turn 57. Therefore, you have 24 years left to do what you like.
Do you realize how short life is? In the daily hustle of going through routine activities, you are spending a big chunk of your life. Do you realize how much of these leftover years are going on your smartphone and other useless activities?
Use your years fruitfully and make them count. You are spending 17 years of your life working, so work only on what makes you happy. Make sure you follow your passion and do what you love doing. Do not stay a job that you hate with a boss that you despise. In a snap of fingers, years would have elapsed and you would have turned into a bitter old man filled with regret.
Follow your passion and chase your dream today. The first best time to start was in the past. The second best time to start is now. Begin today!
Calculate your lifetime activities and sequence
You would like to know the breakdown of your own life, wouldn’t you? If you feel that your numbers are different for each of these activities, add the values below.
All values must be entered below based on the time spent each day.
Maxim Dsouza has spent over a decade experimenting and finding various time management techniques to improve his productivity. He strongly understands the fact that time is a limited commodity and tries to make every second count. He has extensive experience in leadership in startups, small businesses, and large corporations.
He has helped people of different professions and age groups gain clarity on their goals, improve focus, revise their time management skills and develop an awareness of their psychological cognitive biases.