The social media time suck

A recent article by Charles Chu said that in the time we spend on social media, we could read 200 books a year. It’s an awesome article, and you should check it out here.

Chu calculates that we spend 608 hours a year on social media and 1642 watching TV.

I don’t know about you, but those numbers HORRIFY me. But before you scoff at them, do the math: 608 hours a year is about 12 hours a week, or a little less than two hours a day. I would be willing to bet that you spend 1.67 hours on social media per day.

The 1642 hours breaks down to 31 hours a week, or 4.5 hours a day. And before you scoff at that, let me ask you if you’ve ever binge-watched a TV show. (Here’s a 2014 infographic of how long it would take to binge-watch your favorite show. That 31 hours a week looks a little more reasonable now, doesn’t it?)

I consider myself pretty high on the productivity scale. I read about two books a week, and I’ve never had cable–though I do use my ex’s Netflix, my ex’s mom’s HBO Go, and my own Hulu account. I also use my ex’s mom’s cable login for FX. A girl’s gotta watch American Horror Story. Don’t hate.

This past week, I tried to (sort of) keep track of my time in regards to entertainment. I’m not going to say I did a great job, and most of these numbers are estimates, but we’ll go with it.

168 hours in a week
-4o hours at work (most weeks it’s more, but we’ll keep it at 40)
-42 hours sleeping (average 6 hours a night)
-2 hours commuting (I’m very lucky- very short drive to work)
(I’ve used up half my hours at this point)
-2 hours running errands (grocery store, vet, post office)
-8 hours reading (an hour-ish per day)
-5 hours eating/cooking (I cook a lot)
-3 hours with the dogs (sometimes I just watch them do things and I find it hilarious)
-4 hours doing crossword puzzles (I obsessively do NYT crosswords…obsessively)
-6 hours writing (this varies widely–sometimes it’s much more or next to nothing)
-5 hours client work (again, this varies widely–sometimes it’s more like 20)
-10 hours time with friends (dinners, happy hours, boxed wine, whatever)

I’m down to 41 hours left now. And sure, I’m not averaging in the fact that some weeks, I take a lot of long baths, or doctor’s appointments, or the time I spend aimlessly wandering around my house. But even if you cut that down to 30 hours to accommodate random daily tasks…where is that 30 hours going?

Kind of scary, right? How many hours a week can you simply not account for? (This reminds me of Law & Order, where the suspect literally has no clue what they’ve been doing or where they are.) Even if I grossly underestimated on my hours above, I’m still probably missing 20 hours. That’s a part-time job. What am I doing for 20-40 hours a week? 

This should be obvious, but I’ll say it anyways: if I don’t remember what I’m doing, it must not be very important. I don’t think I’m spending that much time aimlessly scrolling through newsfeeds or watching old episodes of Sex and the City…but what if I am? Am I really wasting that much of my life?

There are plenty of articles out there on how to reduce your time on social media and make yourself more accountable, so I won’t bore you with the same ideas on how to form habits, how to break habits, and how to make yourself wake up earlier. I’m only going to suggest that you figure out how many hours a week you can’t account for. If that’s not a wake-up call, I don’t know what is.



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