Who has “Time” to Sit down and Relax?

Time © Laus Priebe.Photo Net

Time © Laus Priebe.Photo Net

Why are we always short of time and in hurry? It is self-evident: because we are busy in doing daily chores and hardly any time for “self” to relax and enjoy. This is an irony: when we compare the time that we have, best measured by the life expectancy from our ancestors — hunter-gatherer. In Western society, the average life expectancy is more than 80 years as compared to 40 years (being optimistic) of our ancestors.

A simple back of the envelop calculation shows that 80 years of life expectancy is not sufficient for us to have the same number of hours as our ancestors used to have “time for me” even when they had a life expectancy of half what we have. Time for me implies the time for relaxing, enjoying, pleasure seeking, staring at nature or in my world “doing nothing.” We need about a life expectancy of 150 years to have same relaxed time as our ancestors used to have.

Economics of time-chart 1

Economics of time-chart 1

There are three variables to consider (Chart 1) while estimating “time for me.

• Total number of hours in a year or lifetime for an average person;

• Hours spent in daily work, preparation and commuting;

• Hours spent in sleeping, dosing, consumption, socializing and entertainment.

Economics of Time-Calculation

Economics of Time-Calculation

Or about half as compared to hunter-gatherer (Chart 2). In other words, we need a life expectancy of about 150 years in order to have same amount of time for Me as hunter-gatherer. (Note: life time spending on sleep and consumption etc. is same for both modern and hunter-gatherer societies. It is work which is more than twice of our ancestors; and as a result, only half of our total life time is left for pursuing our own pleasures – things we would love to do.)

Economics of time-chart 2

Economics of time-chart 2

The ratio, 0.538 has to be adjusted for those who have too much pressure at work and deadlines or have dreadful jobs. They may feel that they have to finish the task in 1 hr. which actually needs 2 hrs. For these people, “time for Me” is even half what estimated above or in other words, they need life expectancy of about 300 years as compared to hunter-gatherer.

Similarly, but in an opposite and positive way, there are people who enjoy and love doing their works. “Time fly” for them. Each 2 hrs. feel like spending 1 hr. Our ancestors would be envy off these people, but still feel they are short of time.

We can all experience “expansion of time” in today’s hectic world. Go to a cottage, abandoned beech or lake or a remote place with little civilization. Turn off all distracting devices: telephone, radio, television and modern gadgets. Just immerse yourself in the current environment and nature. You will feel how time has become standstill.

Relaxing: © Sergio Occhiuzzo. Photo Net

Relaxing: © Sergio Occhiuzzo. Photo Net


About Mahmood Iqbal

An Economist (PhD) and a Professor (Part-time) at the Carleton University, Canada. The author of "No PhDs Please: This is Canada." Besides doing research on serious economic and policy issues for the last 25 years, like to write journalistic pieces on subjects of interest. An amateur Photographer. ... Blog appears to be appropriate venue to post my wondering thoughts without any peer pressure and academic review process.
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One Response to Who has “Time” to Sit down and Relax?

  1. Pingback: Men and Women: Their Contributions to the World | Known Unknowns

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