What Would You do With an Extra 500 Hours?

UPDATED ON APR 27, 2023 : 764 words, 4 minute read β€” PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

If a genie could snap their fingers and give you 500 hours to spend on anything, what would you use it for? Think of those personal wish list ideas you’ve had for so long, yet they never seem to make it into your schedule. Every so often you get reminded with a pang of regret, wondering why you still haven’t done it. For some it’s learning a language or instrument, for others it’s learning a new skill so they can break into a different career. It’s heartbreaking how commonplace it is to live with longing but never taking action. Have one in mind? Now imagine where you could be if you had 500 hours devoted to it exclusively. Picture the progress, the opportunities, which might arise.

What if I told you those hours were hiding in your life already, waiting to be put to good use?

Confronting Excuses πŸ”—︎

Before diving into technicalities, the biggest blocker needs to be addressed, otherwise everything else is for naught. There are a vast array of excuses for why it will be difficult for you to find these hours. You may work 70 hour weeks, or have 4 kids who all need attention & help with school. Many are valid and really do make it difficult to adjust your schedule for yourself. Each person has to evaluate on their own whether they will allow excuses, however powerful they may be, to dictate their path. If you’re not willing to look for workarounds, if you are content with throwing up your hands and letting external forces keep you from your dream, are you sure you really want it?

Finding 500 Hours πŸ”—︎

500 hours sounds like a lot, so what does it actually look like? If you give yourself a year, it’s only 10 hours a week with a bit of leeway. 10 hours a week is about 90 minutes each day spread evenly. If you can find extra on the weekends, though, it’s knocked down to 1 hour a day. You sleep for 8, work for at least 10, and you have 6 hours left. 1 out of 6 is a pretty tight margin with all the other obligations you have, but doable if you look in the right spots. Beyond these most common opportunities for time, I leave deeper research on productivity systems up to your unique circumstances.

  • πŸ“ΊπŸ“³ TV/TikTok/Instagram/News - do you know how much time is devoted to these each day? Weigh the benefits you see versus a happier version of yourself
  • 🧺 Grouping tasks - are there things you need to do that could be bundled together so you are more efficient at completing them? I check email multiple times a day, but would it be the end of the world to only check once a week?
  • πŸ₯¦ Meal prepping - make bigger batches of food to last multiple days, save yourself from having to think of & create a recipe every night.
  • πŸƒ Busywork - If you feel busy from dawn ’til dusk, evaluate the tasks you do all day. Are there ones that are busywork, and if you stopped doing wouldn’t have a major impact? Work expands to fill the time it’s given, are there to-dos on your list which take way longer than they need to?
  • 😴 Wake up 30 mins earlier - Be very careful with this one, sleep is not magic free hours to pull from. Sleep is incredibly vital to your physical & mental health yet so easy to trade as if it wasn’t a big deal. If you go this route, I wouldn’t suggest more than 30 mins earlier unless you can guarantee you will still be getting enough sleep that you feel rested.
  • Options specific to you - If the above options can’t be adjusted in your life, find opportunities the average person may not think of. Do you get downtime at work to study? Can you make progress towards your goal during a commute? Find what fits, you know best.

Next Steps πŸ”—︎

If you can live with the regret of not following your ideas, then do nothing after reading this. For the rest, you’ve only got two steps to take. 1) Find the time hiding in your schedule, then 2) get started. Don’t worry about whether your approach is the most efficient path forward; it’s easy to get lost researching and never begin. Take heart knowing you need less change than you think, even a 1% difference every day for a year makes you 37 times better by the endπŸ“ˆ. Now close this tab and get moving.

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