168 hours. That’s how many hours there are in a week.
Assuming that we attain 8 hours sleep a night over 7 days (56), work 8 hours a day over 5 days (40), spend 2 hours a day over 5 days per week getting ready for, and travelling to and from work (10), and use 2 hours per day over 7 days preparing and eating 3 meals (14), that leaves us with 48 hours per week, or approximately 7 hours per day per 7 day week to do other things.
Sounds like a lot of time, doesn’t it?
But now add “parent” into the mix. School pick-ups and drop-offs? Add 5 hours a week. After school sports, activities, or music lessons? Add 4 hours a week. Grocery shopping, errands, home maintenance requirements, minor emergencies and “to do” lists? Add 10 hours a week.
Now we are down to 29 hours a week, or approximately 4 hours a day over a 7 day week.
Yet a 2016 study revealed that New Zealanders spend an average of 23 hours a week watching TV, and 15 hours a week using electronic devices, for a total of 38 hours week.
Clearly, something doesn’t add up.
Most often, what informs our decisions and choices in terms of how we utilise our time is dependent not upon wisdom, but upon feelings. Interestingly, it seems that people who are guided primarily by how they “feel” often lack the ability to say no to themselves, or to others – thus all expectations become seen by default as reasonable expectations.
The inevitable outcome is that in the absence of self-discipline, the modern-day worker, parent, or partner risks becoming burnt out, collapsing in exhaustion, physical deterioration, or seeking respite in unhelpful ways to them or others (e.g. it’s not unusual for an affair to be initiated from a position of one feeling trapped, powerless, exhausted, or neglected).
When I hear of the weekly timetables, commitments, and endeavours people share with me, I am often struck by the maths just not adding up in terms of number of commitments alongside time available to complete them.
When I suggest a review and consolidation of these weekly schedules, it is remarkable to me how many people simply haven’t considered that a re-negotiation of their expectations was even an option, until I raised it as one.
Our expectations are to serve us, not enslave us, so if you find yourself saying “I’m too busy”, then please, give yourself permission to re-negotiate the terms, conditions, and commitments of your life, and choose wisdom over feelings.
No-one will be harmed if you start setting some boundaries.
Steve is the Director of Relationship Matters Ltd. He holds two applied Bachelor's degrees (Counselling & Addiction) and a P.G. Dip. in Applied Social Practice. Steve is married with two children and lives in West Auckland.