I am fascinated by how people spend their time. The short answer is, “sleeping, working and watching TV.” A blog for Discovery Magazine (8/17/2009) says that we spend 8 hours, 36 minutes a day sleeping, 3 hours and 25 minutes working, 2 hours and 46 minutes watching TV and movies and 1 hour and 46 minutes doing household chores.
There is a great interactive website on the July 31, 2009 New York Times site that demonstrates how different groups spend their time. For example, people with an advanced degree spend more time volunteering than any other group. Apparently, African Americans spend twice as much time on religious activities. And employment requirements are shrinking. Over the 42 years between 1965 and 2007, the work week shrank from 42 hours to only 36. (Your schedule and mine may not have made the survey!)
It is interesting how kids spend their time. Children (ages 8-18) spend 270 minutes a day in front of a television, 33 minutes on a cell phone and 73 minutes playing video games, 90 minutes text messaging and 151 minutes listening to music! Obviously, some of those activities are concurrent. (See “Time” magazine, 2/1/10.) It is no wonder it is tough to get any homework done!
Another way to look at the way we spend our days is to consider the scope of a full lifetime. According to a report in Britain, over the course of our “three score and ten,” we spend 99,117 hours at work, 23,214 hours washing clothes, 2760 hours laughing, 2170 hours sunbathing and 3600 hours complaining!
Men spend about 46 of their total allotment of days getting ready. We ladies manage to spend 136 days doing the same job! But the real winner is eating. We are all going to spend about 38,000 hours choosing and consuming our favorite food!
Thinking about how we spend our time reminded me of the Psalm of Moses. Only one of his songs made it into our Bible, it is Psalm 90. Notice his perspective on the passage of time:
“The length of our days is seventy years, or eighty, if we have strength, yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass and we fly away…teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (vs. 10 and 12)
Teach us to “number our days aright,” that phrase literally means to “weigh them out.” It is a precise calculation determined by a careful count. It might be like counting calories or carbs in your diet, or marking off the days on a calendar until a vacation or birthday. It is the idea of carefully measuring out something of value.
Regardless of our activities (eating, sleeping, working) we are instructed to do them a certain way. We are to carefully “weigh” them, carefully consider each and every hour as a special gift to be prized. The older we get (yep, I turned 60 this year!), the quicker the minutes, hours and days go by. So, the challenge for all of us this week is to “weigh” out our time as a precious gift and spend it wisely.