With young kids around, the laundry and responsibility for dependents figures become hours daily, not weekly. When they're a bit older there's less cleaning but now you're running them around more and ensuring they meet their commitments.
With more gadgets, chemicals and domestic appliances we've just invented higher standards and hundreds of new things to do. The to do list is 20x longer, but each task takes less time.
Whilst we might not want to return to weekly bathing and keeping a room, only for visitors, "for best" of Victorian times, some rebalance might be a good idea. Might even turn out to be good for skin and gut bacteria and the rise of eczema etc.
What we don't have, as it's been gadgeted away, is downtime. Kids, and many adults, today can not cope with being bored (the normal state for kids in the 70s for perhaps an hour or two daily). I saw that very clearly with my own kids and all their friends over the years. What used to be a trigger for inventing a game, building a den, or making something new with lego is far more filled with minutes on YT. More and more we've filled every second with things to do - by "necessity" and by choice.
In trying to make life easier most of us no longer seem to have time (or often inclination) to just chill watching the world go by for an hour a day.
Seems it all got too fragmented.
This hurts to read because it really nails it. This very thing has been on my mind quite a bit lately after watching my older kids now as young adults. We managed to keep them away from much of this simply because we never thought it necessary, but apparently not to the extent I wish we would have. Now with complete freedom of how they spend their time I’m not exactly pleased with the results. They still seem to be lacking the inner drive to create, but instead would rather consume.
My desire was for them to know how to be satisfied from within, developed from their own inner source, not coming from the outside, simply fueled by what they are consuming.
An anecdote: My dad was driven nuts by how much time I wasted as a kid and teen on gaming, and how it seemed that I had few productive interests,never built anything, and stopped projects as soon as I got bored.. He wanted me to be obsessed with something, but few teens are obsessed with anything but not being lonely, social interactions more generally, and just following a random walk exploration. Dad never won those fights to make me serious then.
But you know what? As an adult, I am quite different. I am now a post doctoral fellow conducting cutting edge neuroscience, having completed numberous complex, long-term research programmes that have required obsession, grit, and a determination to perfect his craft.
If your kids can avoid the usual pitfalls (e.g. a serious drug addiction) Im sure all your efforts will come into fruition when they are ready to committ themselves.
Today I buy my son Rasberry Pie's, laptops with GameMaker installed, etc hoping he too will find an obsessio. But he too resists i.e. stops as soon as he is bored.
C'est la vie
This is true, yes!
But I am concerned about what this does to them as a person. Life will kick them down (and then in the head for good measure), and a time will come when they are truly standing alone. If they are lacking the inner self, will they have the fortitude and the wherewithal to navigate themselves back up, even without any immediate payoff? Or will this constant need to feed be so ingrained they won’t know how to push through a hard time with little hope and almost zero positive gain, and instead gravitate towards what feels good for the moment?
But, your anecdote offers hope anyway. Thanks for sharing.
I wonder if it's some innate drive for kids because it comes up in multiple generations; listening to music, watching tv, on facebook or youtube?
I still don't really have an obsession. Committing to a field feels so restrictive compared to reading about a variety of things. As a result, I haven't done very well professionally, but my dad, who was obsessed, didn't do well, either.
I don't remember wasting that much time as a teenager, since if I wanted something, I needed to get a job and work for it. If there was any chance of my bettering the type of situation I grew up on, I had to make sure my grades were amazing. I had to deal with someone else's serious drug addiction in the family, and try to make sense of it, while committing to myself. I don't know if you were ever physically abused as a child because of the lack of drive?
I'm just saying, you may have had the privilege to waste time on someone else's dime, and everything still worked out alright. Not everyone has that. Some of us, if we're not willing to fight from the get-go, we're going nowhere.
Anwyays, congratulations on your post doctoral fellowship.
I got through college with my family on student loans, stipends, and food stamps.And you know what, my kids will have opportunities I never even dreamed of. There is no better feeling.
You decide for yourself what my anecdote is worth.
On another hand your kids are more spoiled with the wealth they were born into and potentially may have lower drive than you have.
Hard to tell how they would turn out.
An afghan (?) proverb I barely remember went something like this: "The king's father grew up in a tent; he worked hard, built his house, and led the people well. The king lived in a house but remembered the tent he was born in; he worked hard, built his palace, and led the people well. The king's children were born in a palace; they have never seen a tent. They are lazy and will not lead the people at all."
"My grandfather rode a Pony, my father rode a Pony, I drive a Mercedes, my son drives a Land Rover, his son will drive a Land Rover, but his son will ride a camel,"
Shirt sleeves to shirt sleeves in three generations.
Economists like to mention that just a few hundred years ago, an average worker's daily wages were only worth ten minutes of artificial light. Now they are worth more than 20,000 hours. This is progress. This is what we do.
Fuck the romanticization of poverty and hardship. That our children do not need to pour as much sweat as us into (literally) keeping the lights on is greatest joy of our success. That drive, grit, pain tolerance, and other survival-mode traits are no longer necessary or adaptive is the best thing that could be happening.
I suspect I will never be able to fully empathize with people who are sad about this. Different mindsets, I guess. Still, I think it's useful for us to be exposed to the opposing perspectives.
We aren't romanticizing poverty, I'm an engineer too and I'm directly involved in the 20k hours of light part, probably my contribution is a very tiny fraction of it but my children have grown up with not only no desire to work but no real desire to put their all into anything. It's not universal but it does seem more polarized than it was forty years ago when I was the age they are now (20-s).
Of course this is all anecdata but it is something that bothers such a large number of people that I feel there must be a kernel of truth in it.
I'm not sad they don't have to struggle to stay alive, warm, and well fed (not that I ever had to actually struggle either, merely plan ahead a little more) what saddens me is the lack of desire to create. Of course if we go far enough back you had to be creative just to live at all so perhaps we are seeing not a change but merely the revealing of what was always there.
When I first went off to college I failed. I did not know why I was there or how to do things. I dropped out and worked various jobs e.g. graveyard shifts at AMPM for two years, pizza delivery for a year, driver for a repoman repossessing cars..let me tell you that there were some pretty dark years then..
But I did succeed after failing
The point is not so much a libertarian fairy tale though. It was only after I met my wife and started a family did the focus of my life come together with a vengence. It was only because I received a lot of support from a supportive wife, a stable dad and mom, a good graduate advisor,and a minimally sufficient social services system. Without these I would not have succeeded coming from where I did..
Every time I come to Hackernews or Slashdot or Reddit, I really should be going to my editor and writing or picking a card off the wall and finishing that thing I want to do.
Obviously, right now, I'm failing. :-P
I think you have a good point about idle time being gadgeted away.
Also I think there is a tremendous potential in automation of physical labor (including remaining daily tasks). I wonder how much more free time we would have, if only 10% of workforce that currently does web/mobile/game apps (including myself) would apply their skills to automating their daily life with simple robots.
Dishwashers help with the bulk, but you end up with more dishes in the household (not worth firing up the dishwasher til it's full). With the things they can't do, and the baked food they sometimes miss, the rinsing beforehand, the loading and unloading, the saving is marginal. But 20 mins a day with hands in soapy water isn't fun, so...
Cooking -- we make more interesting things with far more ingredients, as the fridge is the size of a 60s house, rather than just keeping milk and cheese fresh. Or order takeout.
So track record says whatever future inventions bring us to save time, work (and chores) will expand to fill time available, and we'll be even more fragmented, with even more stuff.
Well then, just don't buy the stuff! Exercise some self-control.
How's that working out for obesity?
> How's that working out for obesity?
Personally? I am in tip top shape fellow gentle person. Tip top. I found that things don't make me happy, but experiences do.
Multiple loads means a multi hour time commitment to being on stand by to transfer and continue the process.
The programmer in me actually has resorted to throwing everything in the car and driving to a laundry mat if I have a build up for some life reason. Then I can wash and dry 12 loads concurrently and be done with it all in about 2 hours. Laundry mats are "the cloud" of home chores.
Now if somebody ever manages to automate the process of transitioning from washer, to drier, to sorted and folded in the home then they will rightly make a fortune as the time savings would be off the charts.
I load my little wheelie-cart, my laptop for some work or a book if I have time, and do what I'd normally do somewhere else for a couple hours. The only real differences are minimal interactions with humans, a need for quarters, and having to wear pants.
Folding is tedious. I hang everything except T-shirts, and some way to skip folding things simply to hang them at home would be nice, but that would involve a vehicle, which is its own bundle of urban hassle and silly for two blocks.
I'm not sure of the tradeoffs. If you have the space, doing laundry while you're in the house for other reasons and transferring manually is the least of the effort.
For the single drum units, you lose the ability to wash 1 load while another is drying. The perk is that you can throw a load in when you leave for work and it will be done when you get back home. If you have more than one those, you're extending your total wash time from
wash * loads + (1 dry time)
(wash + dry time) * loads
i am considering replacing my (unused, broken) dishwasher with a small combo washer dryer and continue doing dishes and cleaning by hand. i think that would be the optimal setup in terms of time and effort and money spent.
The skills for building a robot are quite different from the skills for building "classical" software. For example for classical software one can do correctness proofs/analysis, while for robots one can only do empirical tests or correctness proofs relative to a strongly abstracted world model. So in other words: Applying their (existing) skills into that direction would not have much value. On the other hand: If these people were investing years to develop the skills necessary for robot development, this would probably help; but who of this group is really willing (and can afford) to do so?
Of course there are robotics specifics - computer vision, motion planning (also forward, inverse kinematics), but these functions in principle could be hidden behind an opaque DOM-like APIs, while being implemented in a very advanced manner (e.g. trained deep learning models for vision, best SLAM algorithms, best planning algorithms). Just like the browser doesn't require you to draw webpages pixel-by-pixel on raw framebuffer and provides you with fonts, block model, events etc.
>For example for classical software one can do correctness proofs/analysis, while for robots one can only do empirical tests or correctness proofs relative to a strongly abstracted world model.
Objection #1: Almost nobody does correctness proofs in application and even in system software (e.g. the linux kernel), and yet these software projects work quite well, for example it is known that SpaceX uses Linux (with various patches) as a platform for its in Dragon and Falcon. In fact correctness proofs are mostly done by hardware companies, for some functional blocks, and maybe by the military. If you are interested in exploring this question further you can read "How did software get so reliable without proof?" by C.A.R. Hoare .
Objection #2: Proofs of correctness in logical or probabilistic sense are being done for various real systems by Cyber-Physical Systems community and by Machine Learning community.
>So in other words: Applying their (existing) skills into that direction would not have much value.
I still think that given good blackbox abstractions and familiar API much could be done. We can see beginning of it with maker community, arduinos and espruinos. More should be possible.
>but who of this group is really willing (and can afford) to do so?
I think programmers, investors and customers should be less averse to hardware. We could live much more pleasantly if it were true. Underautomated status-quo is daunting.
I just remembered this post which I think helps better capture some of what I'm talking about: https://plusbryan.com/its-just-wood But I think there's something else besides avoiding things that are mysterious. I think it has something to do with the physicality of the thing. At least something else is needed to understand the weird reluctance with working with hardware that a lot of software-only people have, who differently from the general public (who can't even use their computers) are sharp enough to battle with mind blowing complexity and solving mysteries of bugs or how new languages or APIs work every day behind their screens.
Doing laundry is a lot more than loading and unloading. If you have small children then you have to check everywhere for stains and apply something like Spray 'n Wash first. And then folding takes a lot of time. (There is a folding machine launching soon but it's expensive and might not be reliable https://www.foldimate.com/ .)
I've tried a couple of different Roombas. They simply don't work very well. The rollers get tangled on rug fringes. They get stuck under furniture. The suction is weak. They require frequent cleaning. In the end it's less hassle just to use a regular vacuum.
If this is the case your dishwasher sucks. Other than knocking big chunks (bones, cobs, etc...) into the trash there's no need to pre-rinse dishes on a competent machine.
I do agree that dishwashers don't save as much time as you would hope, but they do help. Handwashing and drying is slow.
The laundry machine is absolutely faster than beating your clothes against the washboard, but yes, it doesn't check for stains and it is still a big time sink.
Roombas suck. No argument there. Vacuuming a room is actually pretty quick, it's picking up all of the stuff first that takes forever when you have kids.
It seems to me that western people have become too entrenched in their familiar lifestyle and it is too hard for current technology to adapt to it as is. And so we live in a status quo where a tiny rich minority can afford to hire human servants to do their chores while middle class can neither hire human servants nor buy robotic ones.
Your experience is much different from mine. I bought a Roomba, then bought another Roomba, because I realized I needed Roomba redundancy.
Could not imagine life without Roomba!
I don't have carpet and no rugs. On hard surfaces I find Roomba does a better job then manually sweeping. But maybe different with carpet.
I'm studying up on udacity about ML and CV. Reading papers and just exploring the domain.
I think the future is amazing.
I started dropping off our laundry at my local laundromat about 6 years ago, it immediately improved my quality of life. Now if only they would put it away for me.
Sounds like an opportunity for a startup!
</joke> ... or so I thought.
There was the same amount of time, but it was allocated differently.
There were phone calls. If somebody calls you on the phone, you stop doing what you're doing and talk to them.
Apart from that, time was scheduled in larger chunks, with fever context switches. You watch a movie start to finish, not a bunch of 2 minute Youtube videos. You spend an evening printing photos in the dark room rather than two seconds on Instagram. You go to a chess club and play with somebody sitting across the table.
So generally you do one thing at a time for longer stretches, and have to plan those activities in advance.
Shopping was mostly physical shopping other than a few catalogs. I remember going into the city once a month or so to go to bookstores etc.
Bills were all a matter of writing physical checks once a week or so.
I also had a shareware software business during that period. So one of my weekly tasks was stuffing floppies into floppy mailer envelopes. (They could choose 3.5" or 5.25" formats with or without printed docs.)
ADDED: I should say that I spent a fair amount of time on BBS's prior to Usenet/Web.
I want to be able to read a non-technical book fully and I can't and I'm very unhappy about this whole situation.
It's surprisingly easy when forced. I moved apartment a few years ago to a small seaside town (mostly retirees and a few locally run shops). We had an old CRT style TV with very few channels. For the first two weeks we had no internet. It was pretty interesting how our differently we would spend the day. My friend and I would take walks around town or the beach, go surfing for a few hours, cook instead of ordering takeout, and then spend the rest of the time hanging out in the living room. The TV was on but we were mostly just chatting. Switch to two weeks later when we got internet. We spent much more time in our rooms on our computers playing video games or watching Netflix. We would still surf a couple of times a week but besides that we would only hangout for an hour or two in the evening if there was a good movie on TV. As frustrating as it was at times not having internet access I would say I was much happier during those first 2 weeks and with so few options for things to do my attention span was automatically much better.
Your message started with "What wouldn't I give to have such attention span!", and it turns out that you don't need to give all that much. Getting started is difficult, though.
If you do start down this path, consider reading Deep Work by Cal Newport to give you some ideas about how you can use the focus and concentration abilities you're building. Again, it's not perfect, but if you take the book as a list of suggestions rather than a strict prescription of what you should do, you'll probably find that you can adapt its lessons to make your life better.
Work on engaging in those activities a little bit longer then you currently can, and slowly increase the duration. Use a timer to set a limit. This would need to be done with regularity and focus.
The important thing is that I need to always remember that it's an addiction and I need to get it under control. I think limiting myself to a half hour or hour a day would be best.
Possible there is some positive there as well, and it keeps drawing you in. Instead of thinking of it as an addiction, think of it as something you do, that is part positive and part empty. Identify those parts that are positive, and praise yourself for them. Then over time, identify those parts that are empty, and realize, "oh, I can eliminate this."
I have to imagine you'd say the same thing about whatever hobby you could use to fill this time with. Perhaps your hobby leads to new friends, business opportunities, skills, or other general improvements in your daily life.
My kids (14 and 13) don't watch any TV. They don't even particularly like movies.
They do a lot of arts and crafts, they play games (board games and video games), and one spends quite a bit of time playing the piano. They both are spending more and more time talking with friends either in person or on Facetime or IM.
The video that they do watch is pretty much exclusively on YouTube.
The sad thing is it can jump into the middle of any activity. Getting lunch, wait one second text message which you need to respond to right now.
So, you get sent a text and people will generally assume you are ignoring them unless you respond.
If you check your phone in a meeting, and you don't have a family member in the hospital, you're wrong. It's discourteous in the extreme to check a smartphone (or noodle around on a laptop!) when meeting with others.
Also, there are more and less formal meetings, but in a technical meeting checking some point online with a laptop or phone occurs on a regular basis. It seems much more productive than having people just say random things that don't match up with reality.
Meetings should be short and to the point: 15-30 minutes should be normal, an hour abnormal. 'I'm sorry, I wasn't paying attention' is rude, and so is wasting every other participant's time while context switching back to the meeting.
> Also, there are more and less formal meetings, but in a technical meeting checking some point online with a laptop or phone occurs on a regular basis.
Sure, but people shouldn't be programming, working on their personal blogs, reading reddit, checking HN, catching up on the latest Wikipedia articles, browsing Google News or whatever when they're in a meeting.
Participants in a meeting owe one another their attention.
Well, an agenda is part of the courtesy the meeting convener owes the participants, and a well-run meeting is part of the courtesy the chairman owes the participants.
Meetings are incredibly expensive: everyone owes it to their organisation, one another and themselves to make that expense worth it.
You owe attention to your fellow participants.
Then take action! You are not a passive victim of circumstances: you are an active participant in, among other things, meetings; demand that your fellow-participants behave politely.
Take responsibility for your destiny.
Is there any practical reason, that makes texting rude, discourteous, and unprofessional, besides that it unflatters someone's ego?
I, personally, don't think I'd be affected by "unflattering". In many circumstances, though, noodling around on a laptop in a meeting is communicating to the presenter that their presentation is unworthy of your time or attention - that is to say, you are disrespecting the presenter.
I think it's a moving scale, though, dependent on the importance of the subject of the meeting and the relationship of the attendees. In a casual meeting between friends, with low-importance subject matter, I would consider undivided attention unnecessary (and therefore exceptionally respectful if given). In a business environment, where the subject is business related, I would consider it necessary (and therefore the opposite is exceptionally disrespectful).
It's not about shows of allegiance: it's about being present for your fellow-participants.
> Is there any practical reason, that makes texting rude, discourteous, and unprofessional, besides that it unflatters someone's ego?
Human beings can't multitask: every second you're texting is a second of meeting content you're missing. It is rude, because it says to those speaking, 'what you are saying is not as important as what I am reading or typing.' It is discourteous, because it wastes their time. It is unprofessional, because a professional would do others the politeness of turning down the meeting if he doesn't believe his presence is needed, rather than attending and ignoring.
I think one difference other than the never-ending aspect of the internet is that when you're reading a newspaper or book you get sleepy when you're supposed to, whereas if you're looking at a screen the blue light keeps you awake longer and all your chores take longer the next day because you have less energy.
Weekend newspapers would kill you if dropped on your head from a modest height. Magazines had hundreds of ad pages.
Non-ad content used to be much longer. Many features and columns were equivalent to a long-read feature today.
This issue of Byte from 1981 (about Smalltalk) is a 312MB PDF with nearly 500 pages:
I think the blue light issue may be overstated. I used to read paper into the early hours, even after I was tired and sleepy. I still get a "must sleep now" cut off, even when surrounded by screens. It just happens later.
What isn't overstated is information volume. Hacker News and Reddit literally give you more links/features in 24 hours than Byte used to offer once a month. Each item may be shorter - sometimes - but there are many, many more things to read.
Now, because of smartphones, it seems everyone is caught in this same time distortion field.
As a result I purposefully try to look at my phone as little as possible.
Think of it this way, if through some sort of Matrix like situation our first experience of the outside world was through a small touchscreen, and then suddenly you took the red pill and were put into a world where you could touch, smell and see in full 360 degrees and feel wind and water and move and climb over things and interact with animals etc...it would blow your mind.
So why are we allowing ourselves to limit our experiences in this way?
You just need to understand you are not missing out on anything by not doing so.
This sort of internet addiction isn't just destroying productivity for grown up adults but studying habits of teenagers and school going kids too.
Try to take it 15 minutes at a time. Try staying away from internet 15 minutes at a time, then the next 15 and so on, I think it should work out perfect well.
There's an excerpt at: http://mentalfloss.com/article/18670/gin-sitcoms-and-cogniti...
What have I been doing instead? Riding my bike around town. Hanging out with friends. Not bad, but I've also taken up watching Youtube for hours every night.
The key is to not overwhelm yourself and to do something towards your goal. For example, don't try to set up the entire blog in one night, instead do a micro-portion, "oh, I better start downloading the webserver before I watch youtube." Or even, "oh, I better plug my server in and turn it on."
The key is to do something every night, and cut it into pieces small enough that it's doable. If you find yourself putting it off, that means you need to cut it into an even smaller portion.
I went for a run last week, and got to marveling how I had run from my front door into the mountains & back, how gradually the time had passed, and how those two hours would have zwip vanished in a forgettable blink had I been online.
It's amazing how fast the time can slip by.
I even try to schedule in periods where I do allow myself shallow work, like checking a bunch of things, or sating the information addiction that you and I most certainly share. Right now, I have maybe 50 tabs open between a bunch of aggregated tech/science news sites, and I'll spend maybe 1 minute at most on each one. If I did that just any time of day that I had a period of empty time, it would be just like if I left clutter anywhere that I had empty space. But since I've devoted this time to this task, it's kind of like putting everything you need for a project out on a table, then packing it up neatly when you're done with the project for the day. I know an end to the clutter is in sight, so it doesn't bother me so much.
The hardest part is always trying not to fill empty time meaninglessly. That takes skill, but it can be learned. I find I'm better at it when I've been keeping up with daily meditation in the morning and evening. But even if meditation isn't your thing, you can practice in other ways. For instance, when you are eating dinner, try to only be eating dinner. It seems awkward at first, to sit in silence (especially with a partner present) and just eat, but that fairly quickly goes away. Or, in the mornings, if you have coffee or tea, just drink coffee or tea and sit in silence. I tend to keep a notebook handy, and if something particularly strikes me during the silence, I write it down and let myself come back to it after I've finished my coffee.
I don't think it was any different before the popularity and ease of access of the internet. People assume that others were focusing on longer sessions of focus, but I don't think that's the entire truth. I think as a species, we've always struggled with this anxious itch to move on to the next thing, mere moments after starting the current thing. I think that's why (as you note) a lot of the older generations are turning to using the internet in much the same way as the younger generations.
My problem with that is that the mess in my room matches the mess inside my head. Do I feel bad that there are things all over the floor? Nope, it is really comfortable because it matches who I am.
I don't know how to solve this problem.
The answer is that, as we grow up, we tend to develop the belief that our well-being needs to be justified somehow. In other words, we start to believe that we are not by default worthy of living a good, joyful, care-free, abundant life.. unless it is "deserved". And the way to justify, or "earn" our well-being, we are told, is by action. By doing things. So we become obsessed with doing things, as a way of seeking approval and justifying our well-being.
Of course, as any child knows... this is ridiculous. Action is not a means to an end. Action itself is one of the ways to enjoy life.
Now, living in Spain, I feel it's OK not to do anything. Just sitting in the shade for 6 hours watching the world go by doesn't make me a weirdo, like it does back home.
Работа не волк - в лес не убежит.
Work is not a wolf, it will not run to the forest.
Basically, the idea is work isn't going anywhere, so no need to worry that much about it. At my last job in the US, I couldn't understand why people were so adamant about how busy they were when most of the time people were doing what they could to look busy. It's not that they were actually burdened with work, it was that they wanted to appear like they had no time. My employees would frequently get into arguments over who had the busier and more difficult schedule. My family does the same (one of my brothers prides himself on how little free time he had)
I guess it's just this perception that important people are busy and the inverse of that is if you're not busy you're not important. Just speculation, of course, but it's my experience that once you get away from the US, you lose this mindset.
Edit: I guess in fairness I should note that I did have genuinely busy coworkers - our under-staffed programming team were constantly under pressure and in constant repair mode due to not having the time or resources to move out of a crisis state. This is a true "always busy" scenario in my mind.
Perhaps but I'm sure the primary thought in their subconscious is "don't back down or they will punish you by inventing new burdens for you."
See "protestant work ethic".
In the UK? Have you been to Yorkshire?
Was mostly referring to all the urban poor, crime, domestic violence etc that goes on in large parts of the UK.
I'm missing Lisbon, where I usually live (over 300 days of sun yet it never really gets unbearably hot). I can't imagine being in Andalucia during the entire summer, though I hear Granada isn't as bad (probably due to being 30 min to the mountains and 30 min to the beach).
It really does depend on your situation though. I have one to one lessons twice a week but it's not really enough as I manage to get by without having to speak that much during the week.
However, I know people who have picked it up fairly quickly because they are working in a public facing environment where they really have to learn fast.
I wrote down a grammar card with all the verb conjugations (-AR, -IR, -ER verbs) and carried it in my pocket everywhere. When I couldn't remember, I (as soon as practical) pulled it out of my pocket and double-checked.
The most difficult one for me was getting la/el correct. Although by that point I knew the correct gender of each noun, it didn't come out correctly when speaking quickly.
It helps, a bit, and is lot more convenient than firing up google translate every two minutes (which isn't that much use for a lot of grammar anyway).
Edit: typing on phone
That may be your own personal motivation, but it is far from a generalization or even shared by many people.
For instance, people do work to make a living. For some people, making a living means paying the rent and put food on the table. For others, it means affording luxuries and materialist goals. Most people do need to work to cover these expenses, and the higher they cost the harder they need to work for them. This is the norm.
Then there are also other motivations. Some people decide to become entrepreneurs not because they seek riches, but because they believe they are able to create something new, something that no one else can provide, and believe that they have an obligation to be a source of progress and push the world forward in their own personal way.
The article says that adults work, commute, clean, cook, take care of their dependent and so on... they don't do that to justify their existence but because it has to be done, unless you're rich enough to find other people doing these things for you...
Shared homes, or shared meals, would reduce the need cook so often. And reduce resource usage.
We've moved to a social system where all adults are expected to work. This leaves less time for social cohesion, domestic management, childrearing, and such. We've lost a lot in no longer having half of all parents not encumbered by paid work.
We've also lost the ability to financially survive in a one-worker household, overall. Inflation adjusted household wages have long stagnated, and that's when factoring in women entering the workforce! Twice the workers for the same pay...
It's not about being "deserved". There is no merit, morality or legitimacy concern here. Just plain pragmatism : good things will not come to you if you just sit on your couch all day.
Take for instance item 4 in OP's list: cleaning. Well, I can assure you that if I don't clean my apartment, nobody is going to show up magically and do it for me.
> Of course, as any child knows...
Well yeah, because children have their parents do stuff for them. That's precisely OP's point.
Similarly there is a 'morality' of leisure: Protestant work ethic and all that. Note that one of the sibling comments talks about feeling a lot more comfortable relaxing in (Catholic) Spain.
Maybe it should be like this. Our bodies clean themselves.
I keep wondering, how's the research in self-maintaining and self-cleaning materials going. Surely, getting rid of the need to constantly clean your house will require a lot of small breakthroughs, but it is a worthy goal given the time we all collectively waste.
(Personally I view all maintenance as waste - you have to pay your dues and not skimp on it, but you should at the same time minimize the cost as much as possible.)
The roomba and our cleaning lady are magical?
It's very simple: I get paid x/hr, the roomba as time advances effectively approaches a cost of 0/hr of work (same goes for the clothes and dishwasher) and the 1 hour the cleaning lady spends here is cheaper than what either of us earn during an hour. Why would we possibly spend our valuable time doing that when we can outsource it to a person and a robot for much less?
Because maintenance takes time and it's not handled by your parents anymore.
Check out most small towns (200K or less) and villages in places like France, Italy, Spain, Greece, etc -- the one's I know off.
Or are small town residents not "adults"?
> Or are small town residents not "adults"?
Didn't mean to imply that. I was just whining about my own life ;).
Heh, I added that part to refer to the original parent's question.
From what I've seen (and lived myself) in such places, work is mostly something you do, quite casually, for 8 hours or so, and then (or even in between work, e.g. with "siesta" etc) there's lot of socializing, slower everyday pace, etc. And everybody knows everyone else. People are not "ambitious" in the stereotypical "make it big" US idea.
That said, this also holds in "smalltown USA" too -- well, except for the unfortunate souls who work as employees in nationwide firms like Walmart, et al. But for those with own businesses, farms, etc, it's mostly like that.
Of course in larger cities you can easily work 14 hour days for shit pay.
North America is a lot more "everybody fends for themselves" than Europe, I mean, here parents will charge rent to their kids and nobody bats an eye, so forget about free babysitting and/or your mom coming over to clean your place and leaving your fridge stocked with leftovers. Not to mention living in sprawly cities with huge commutes in general...
E.g. kids can just go out and play or go to afternoon classes themselves, they don't have to be constantly supervised by their parents or be driven everywhere, so they get more freedom, and parents gets more self time, for one example.
You don't clean and cook because you need to justify your existence but because you want to eat a decent meal on a clean plate. Many actions are definitely means to an end.
Mr. Clayton Christensen says its because adults like to invest their effort in stuff that gives them the most immediate sense of achievement - and that turns out to be their careers; spending your time with the kids (or doing other thing that might make more sense) doesn't give you this kick, often its a long term investment that gets neglected.
He says so in this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rHdS_4GsKmg (answering a question asked at 1:15:08).
i keep quoting this guy quite a lot recently...
This is of course a very simplistic description and by no means explains the result but it may play an important role.
This is a mechanism evolved since our existence in the wilderness and may have very different/negative results in our modern lives if not filtered through higher level mental functions. But anyway giving the fact that it's such a low level mechanism is hard to control it totally..
And I'm far from the busiest parent I know. One of the neighbors has a kid in competitive swim so she's up at 4AM every morning for swim class, then sending the kid to school, then sending the other kid to school, then a brief window to get stuff done during the day (at least she has that, with 3 year olds you don't get the school break), then bus pickup, then bus pickup, dinner, homework, then bedtime. Weekends are swim meets--every weekend. Often several hours away, plus whatever the other kid is doing.
Keeping a schedule like that up perpetually is exhausting, and there's basically no opportunity for adult activities. Nothing to talk about except swim meets.
To add to your observation, I think there is also a social aspect to it. I have often felt that being "not busy" is not socially acceptable. Or in other words being busy is somehow more respectable. So we tend to brag about being busy, and helps to perpetuate this point of view.
I think that social acceptance sums up into that sentence here.
To get back to being a kid, one can decondition all that (while retaining adult sensibilities).
I think that's what LSD does.
To decondition oneself out of all of the social conditioning naturally involves giving up both cynicism and pride (they are socialized feelings).
 Urban Dictionary defines "Tell me more" as an expression of put-down: "When someone say something stupid or simple. It's used to annoy people by asking them to tell you more when the statement is final." http://tell-me-more.urbanup.com/6108370 And it takes the simple naïveté of childhood to dislodge the sophisticated cynicism of adulthood.
 such as pride at "being a fair social agent" (your words) https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12496092
Do you consider asian philosophy (like buddhism I believe) that takes a contemplative approach on existence, to be childlike (from memories, I used to spend a lot of time contemplating things, lots of things are amazing when you're a kid, stone, river, rain, sky, ..)
ps: interesting interpretation of the nature of pride and cynicism. I'm not so sure about the social roots of pride, even though I agree that it's often socially distorded, but pride is also felt when doing something you feel about as beautiful, loving and right. For instance the other day instead of killing some annoying insect I took a step to tame my instinct and carefully move them out my room. This is also something I'd call "pride" even though it's far less social, but I agree it's not unrelated either)
pps: also not that I said 'your brain' as I believe it's a part of nature and evolution in our maturation from child to adult. As a child you enjoy asking things from others; a lot less later on though.
As you want to know more about this topic I'll refer you to: http://actualfreedom.com.au/library/topics/naivete.htm ... and the "method" to deprogram oneself is: http://www.actualfreedom.com.au/richard/articles/thismomento...
About Buddhism, I thought the withdrawing was only a first step toward a stable "marvelling". But I'm completely not educated on the subject.
Where civilized life is defined in the regions between childhood and adulthood.
- my 2 cents.
I call this the buffet approach to life. Some people seem to want to cram a tiny bit of every thing onto their plate, nibbling at everything there is to offer. The alternative being a full course dinner with superbly executed dishes that compliment each other. Or you could just eat steak, whatever you prefer.
And to get that kind of recharging experience without hurting feelings sometimes you have to tell other adults, well, sure I'd "love" to sit in a two hour traffic jam to get to some sportsball game (I don't care about sports), or I'd "love" to sit in a smokey (I don't smoke) bar full of obnoxious drunks (I rarely drink) all night (I rarely stay up all night or up late), but woe is me I gotta do yardwork or the HOA will ticket me (actually I don't have a HOA where I live), woe is me woe is me, you guys go on bravely without me, adults are just soooo busy what a shame it truly is. And everyone leaves happy.
Its important to note there's doing laundry as per the mom in Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory all exhausted and sweaty and drudgery and heavy manual labor for a 16 hour working day, but lets face it, my "2 hours per week" from the insane article is less than 5 minutes of moving stuff from baskets to machines and more than 1:55 of reading an exciting new book or playing in my workshop or playing video games or goofing off online. Again see above paragraphs, I'm sure doing laundry is some circle of hell for an extrovert but I've got my headphones on and I am totally rocking it and having a great time, maybe the best time of my week.
If you think its ridiculous for extroverts to "extrovert" in some of the article activities individually, imagine how crazy my actual life is for an extrovert when I double dip. If you're not sweating you're not cleaning hard enough, so I count cleaning time as exercise time, and why not do that while the clothes are in the dryer, that's triple dipping? That's not extrovert compatible lifestyle, somehow I don't envision hearing "hey bros come on over for beers and sweaty toilet scrubbing party!" Yet weird as it sounds with the right music or right podcast blasting, cleaning the bathroom isn't the worst part of the week.
Its not socially acceptable in general to be an introvert or admit to it, but I'm old enough to have accumulated enough F-you points to get away with that kind of behavior.
Edit: landlords of HN unite to downvote!
That said, I know several people who own multiple homes and lease them out. They often barely break even with mortgage payments, maintenance, dealing with deadbeat tenants, etc. Sure, once a house is paid off, they have a nice source of income, but they're taking a decent amount of risk having so much of their money tied up in such a limited number of investments. Some of them are still under water on rental property mortgages after the 2008 crash.
They're not skimming labour off of their tenants. They're providing a service for a fee.
And if you're talking about large apartment complexes, that's not some landlord "rentier" class. That's a corporation, just like any other.
You don't have to pay to exist; just ask any homeless person. If you want to live in a home or any type of shelter, you have to make it yourself or obtain access to one that has been built. It has always been so. There are various ways to obtain access: squat, pay rent, perform services in exchange, couchsurf, join a commune, convince friends or family to accept you, buy, etc.
So they get several hundred K for very little work that anyone could do.
There is no risk with the central bank land ramping. In urban areas they are limiting supply, forcing up prices and taking labour.
If someone does very little work and gets several hundred K that comes from somewhere.
That makes no sense, unless you just don't believe in private property – which is a different argument and not one I'm super interested in having.
And honestly, if you think it's so easy to be a landlord, you should try it. It's not. It can be fairly easy, until you have:
- a tenant who won't pay but also refuses to leave, necessitating legal action to evict, which is doubly expensive due to the legal fees and lost income
- a tenant who wrecks the property, e.g., letting their cat pee all over the wood floor, but refuses to provide any additional money to remedy
- a tenant who falls in the yard and initiates a frivolous lawsuit against you
- squatters who refuse to leave and require police action
- a roof that needs replacing, new HVAC, new appliances, etc.
Investing in rental properties often performs no better than just investing in the general stock market. Is that exploiting people? Is it exploiting people to have a savings account that pays interest? Anybody can do that and gets free money.
I wish we could sit down over coffee or whatevs and discuss this. I feel like we must have fundamentally different views of the world, and I would like to understand yours better. I rarely meet people whose views I don't understand, even if I disagree – especially people to the "left" of me.
I rented for as long as I've now been a homeowner. I never felt like I was being exploited as a renter. I was essentially paying the same in rent as a mortgage, but as a renter, I got a ton of advantages. For example, I didn't have to pay for maintenance of the home, I got access to nice amenities, and I got the flexibility to easily move somewhere else at the end of the year. For a fee, I got to offload a huge amount of stress onto someone else – the property owner.
I know someone who owns two homes and rents them out. Meanwhile, she lives in a small rented townhouse shared with 2 other housemates. She does this, because she's very handy and can do most of the maintenance herself. And she feels she understands the real estate market better than the stock/bond market. So, these homes are basically her retirement savings. She's not forcing anyone to live in them, and she can't afford to have them sit vacant very long. So, she must price them at a rate that will attract renters. I just don't see the exploitation in that scenario.
Try building it in the forest though - it is most likely illegal due to some rentier (or government) already owning it. I think the grandparent has some truth to their words.
Existing outside the dwelling is illegal. Dwellings are owned by the elite rentier class, so you need some money just to exist (unless you are a rentier).
I don't expect to exist for free given all the services the state supplies, such as healthcare, policing, roads etc. I also don't expect someone to own some land forever and derive rent from it as the workers pay taxes to build up infrastructure which augments the land value.
When it comes to kids, we often call it sharing. Billy has a toy truck you want to play with. You have a action figure he wants to play with. If you each share what you have, then everyone is happy.
That is all rent is. Billy has a house, you have cash. He wants to play with cash, and you want play house. If you each share what you have with each other, everyone is happy. Pretty simple.
Also the house is often worth far less than the land.
> Also the house is often worth far less than the land.
While that can be true, it is only true if someone has created value around it, or has exchanged the value that they created elsewhere for it.
It is not like land itself is all that valuable. A quick look at the real estate listings showed me all kinds of vacant lots for just $2,000. It takes more than dirt to derive value. Something has to be created.
No. Existing is free. You have to pay in order to live in a dwelling you could not afford.
In many places, homelessness, squatting, and camping without explicit permission are illegal. You might not have to continuously pay for the spot on which you stand, but if you stay on it for too long, eventually someone will come to collect or make you move on.
And in just as many places, if not many more, it's not. After all, shanty towns do exist.
I was replying to "We have to pay to exist?", not "We have to pay for a shelter?".
Being free to do something does not mean the means to accomplish it should be free of charge. I know lots of people think otherwise and therefore believe things like food, healthcare or accommodation should be given to them somehow for free, fortunately most people don't agree.
And the banks and the landlords mop it all up using the state to guard their property whilst the workers pay the taxes.
The system stinks.
I feel the answer is in there. Live more in the now and experience the calmness, even though you may be just as busy as ever. Busyness is just a label you put on your activities yourself. I'm sure my son does not understand being busy and if he would he would label it as a positive feeling. Busyness is a feeling caused by thinking of all the things you still have to do. Some people feel it when they have to do shopping and cook on 1 day, some people seem to never feel it even though they shop, cook, visit friends, work and do sports on 1 day. It's very subjective and there are techniques (mindfulness?) to feel it less than you do now.
I then have plenty of spare capacity for both generalised planning and chilling out.
For me, note-taking just ends up being something else to worry about. Particularly when it comes to work.
I had been using org-mode for years before I started using custom capture templates and agenda views, and now it's clear to me that they're the magic that makes org-mode worth learning.
Compromises: no pictures, no phone. Other people make these things work, but it hasn't been worth it for me.
Oh and for reminders: Apple Reminders at 9:00, 12:45, and 16:00.
- When should I leave to get there by 20:00?
- Can I do something else along the way?
- What can I get done before then?
Edit: Not that I ever manage that myself of course but the theory is sound.
That said, there's a caveat here - as they say, "out of sight, out of mind", and I find it too easy to defend from being overworked by simply ignoring the todo list and not looking at it. This is dangerous and leads to failed obligations.
At least for me the key is to aggressively wean my to-do list, keeping items on it that I'm highly likely to complete in the next few days, as opposed to an ever-growing wish list.
I'm really not much of a productivity "system" person but David Allen has some good ideas around completing quick tasks, to do lists, breaking things up into manageable chunks, calendars being for events that are tied to a specific time/date, etc.
--> "busy" people
You shouldn't plan a grocery trip
You shouldn't schedule a grocery trip
You shouldn't consider your diet in advance (plan meals)
You shouldn't check if groceries are needed before shopping
You shouldn't make sure you have money in the bank before shopping
As an aside, those living on tight budgets typically have no choice but to think about everything in advance, like you're piloting a dinghy on the high seas.
A more practical thing might be to do your chores with music - so you'll focus on it and not on your next chore.
If you do your moment stuff, and forget to buy groceries, is that really a problem of not having food for diner? Just skip it, you won't die.
Why doing today what can be done tomorrow?
Then you only need to do planning on the really important stuff.
(Yes, this has really happened.)
You could also buy food off your neighbour. Since you only care about now, there's no point worrying what they will think in the future.
"I'll give you $10 for that packet of pasta".
What's the difference between $10 in your pocket and theirs?
What is the price of peace and contentment?
The key is to plan in the present, then do the next thing and the next thing, each time in the present. Living like this requires adult versions of faith, agility and resourcefulness.
Even with planning, there can still be time for: "when you are hungry, eat. When you are tired, sleep". Not everything needs to be planned. Big things do, but not everything does. Know when to deploy the higher functions and when not to.
One place I've noticed this in that placing a high value on my own time comes off as self-important. As well, wondering why colleagues aren't placing a high value on their time, leave me bewildered.
Just the other day, a friend was showing me how he was playing around with React to create a calculator to show how much money he could save by getting gas over the border. Since we're on a US/Canada border town, we can save 5-10 dollars by filling up over the border. He's made his calculator just to help learn React. I asked him why he went to the US to get gas and he told me it was to save money. $5! It makes the 5 min job of getting gas into a 30 min chore. He's a freelancer which I think my company pays around ~100/hr. He doesn't think this is strange and no one else who was listening did.
For one, you can't just work more hours whenever you want, in however small of chunks you want. If something takes ten minutes, it's not like you could just choose to work for your salary for those ten minutes.
Second, not all work is equal, and you can't do all work for an infinite amount of time. Whether you are a physical or mental laborer, you only have so much productive energy for your job. You can't just work 18 hours a day and pay for everything else with the extra money.
My meaning was that I rigorously try to put a price tag on my free time, just like my minutes are counted and paid for at work. This really helps me to put many priorities straight immediately. Like GP's "oh hey let's fetch gas from 39 mins away to save a penny" example, it is usually very easy for people to give zero value for their own time when making such decisions. Putting a virtual price tag for that extra 25 mins helps to prioritize those things in life that are all lumped under the category of "free time"; family, kids, friends, just relaxing at sauna, whatever.
The best philosophy is to know where the cheap gas stations are near you. Try to fill up there when you need it, put five bucks of expensive gas in if you're low and you know you're going there soon, but otherwise don't worry about it. It's just not worth going out of your way and it's certainly not worth running out of gas in an effort to save a dollar or two.
In business, there's a principle that's something along the lines of "know your business". Your business probably isn't fixing the laser printer when it breaks, or (for smaller businesses) running your own hosting service. It costs money to do those things in-house, so it also makes sense to hire someone else to do it so you don't have to worry about it.
People often fail to apply that to their own lives. Some things just aren't worth fretting over when you can throw a bit of money at the problem and make it go away (or significantly reduce the scope of the problem). If owning a Roomba cuts down on vacuuming time by 75% then just pay the money and make the problem go away, your time is worth more than the amortized cost of the roomba.
The other one that's really surprising is car repairs. Changing oil is literally a half hour job, and many other repairs boil down to replacing an easily accessible sensor or something. The gains here are large, a garage will hardly look at a car for less than a hundred bucks. It's easy to check Youtube and see videos of someone doing the job.
There's also a lot of mistakes you can make even just in changing oil. I won't make them, but that's because I've already learned the hard way. John Doe has yet to put all the mistakes behind him.
I call it the 'small life'. Lots of people in town know me, I know them, build a pretty social life.
I am not going back.
- Found a job and dwelling that are reasonably near each other and the other amenities you need in your life, all in an area that's easily navigable by bicycle and foot
- Found a job that allows you to work only 32 hours while still paying enough to pay the bills
The other choices have radically lowered or removed the bills I am getting. I hardly get any mail anymore.
I love TV( youtube, Netflix, amazon etc). I grew up with state TV and there is no stopping me now. There are all kinds of amazing stuff on TV, there is no limit to how much you can explore the world. Eg: This week, I time traveled back to soviet union in the 50's got to look their communal houses, social classes, dress codes, social norms ect all while being entertained .
I would rather be emotionally dependent on TV than a bunch of unpredictable random strangers. 'Small life' to me not less stuff ( stuff is cheap), its having predictable emotional dependencies. I don't understand the minimalism movement, people are somehow emotionally tied to their couch so getting rid of it makes them free?
>ditched the car ( does away with a whole class of problems/bills ).
I never got into an actual car till I was 19 yrs old. Now I own a cheap new car that bought for around 20k from my savings. Only bill I pay is insurance of ~$100, and there is routine maintenance once every couple of months. I don't consider that 'whole class of problems'. I love owning a car, so much freedom and less dependence on random unpredictable human beings. Small life.
1. Work: 40 hours
2. Cooking: 3 h (who the hell cooks three times a day?)
3. Laundry: 0.5 h (once a week)
4. Cleaning: 1 h (and I am very clean, I just avoid producing dirt)
5. Buying stuff: .5 h (I try to avoid buying too much stuff I don't really need)
6. Bills: 0 h (they a are paid automatically from my account)
7. Small errands: 1 h
8. Transport: 4 h (I ride my bicycle to work, so one could count that as exercise)
9. Staying healthy: 4 h (in addition to the bicycling to and from work)
10. Finances: 0 h (I have no idea how anyone can spend so much time on this. I just live by the simple rule: don't get into debt and move some of your income automatically on a saving account)
11. Taxes: 0 h (automated in Germany)
12. Responsibility for Yourself: 0 h (weird point)
13. Responsibility for your dependents: 0 h (I'm not responsible for anyone and visiting my family is fun)
14. Being sick: 0 h
15. One time errands: 2 h (I have to do some irregular stuff)
16. Long term planning: 1h (because I'm actively thinking about it at the moment)
1. Attire and Grooming: 3.5 h (half an hour every morning, 3 minutes in the evening)
2. Sleep: 49 h
3. Eating: 1.5 h (breakfast and lunch is included in work time)
Overall: 109 h
Free time: 49 h
I think it all comes down to priorities and you current life situation. But one can influence most of these things and you have to decide what is really important in your life. For me, it's free time.
i work from home so i do usually. once you get good at cooking, most restaurant food is un-appetizing or extremely expensive for what you are receiving. it also helps me maintain my weight and not be a complete fatass.
i still eat out a couple of times a week but i'd say a good 75% to 90% of my meals are cooked at home. par-cooking common ingredients in batches helps a lot. it's basically like running a small commercial kitchen for myself.
once you get good at cooking it's basically a 'flow' activity. line cooks get 'in the zone' when the rush hits.
also, once you get the basics down most day to day meals take about 10-15 minutes to cook, not including roasting time which is passive.
the only downside for cooking to me is the cleanup. that never stops sucking for me and brings out my lazy streak.
People with children at home will obviously have very different time allocations (I do laundry almost daily, and if I let it pile up to fold once a week it takes 2-3hours to fold and put away everything. Family meal times can take 2hours each, depending whether we get the food ready quickly and the kids feel like eating. Someone is always sick. )
People who enjoy cooking, and people who actually care for their health.
I make five medium sized breakfast burrito's on Sunday night and refrigerate them. One every morning. That's a whole wheat wrap, a couple eggs, green peppers, and chopped onions. This takes me about a half hour on Sunday including cleanup and 5 seconds to grab one out of the fridge each morning. I supplement it with a granola bar.
I won't claim to be ultra concerned with my dietary balance, but you definitely don't need to spend a ton of time cooking to be healthy.
If it tasted better, I might still be doing it. It's actually the same sort of thing prisons feed to problem inmates to punish misbehavior, except they call it "nutriloaf", and put more actual food in it.
Mine was mostly eggs, coconut oil, and chia seed. It looked horrible, but it barely tasted like anything at all. I might tweak my recipe and try it again some day, but the family won't even look in its general direction, so somebody still has to actually cook meals.
I'll have my wok cleaned and put away for next time before the frozen pizza chefs have their oven preheated. Or I'll be half done eating my lunch salad before the frozen burrito comes out of the microwave.
I'm not sure that "open bag, dump salad on plate" even counts as cooking, but that's like 1/3 of my meals and the "cooking" process takes about 10 seconds.
I don't have orthopedic problems, but I've found that I'm generally more comfortable by the end of the day if I'm wearing shoes at home vs barefoot or slippers. This is especially true if I spend a few hours in the kitchen standing up to cook, etc.
Additionally, where I grew up it's odd/rude for a visitor to remove their shoes or be asked to remove their shoes. Different strokes and all that. :)
It took me a long time to realize this, but it finally clicked for me fairly recently. Record everything you do for a day, figure out which are of low or no value, and figure out how to get rid of them, create systems to reduce the time you spend on them, or delegate them. The most time-consuming things often can't be totally cut out, but they can be systemized or delegated. In the end, only you control your time (and if you don't, you have a bigger problem).
Edit: If anyone is interested in the resources I've found helpful in this realization and the implementation of taking actions to take back control of my own time, feel free to send me an email (in profile).
This is a big part of it, and it makes the comparison between Musk or Branson and an average Joe a bit disingenuous. They have the wealth afford to delegate many things that consume an average person's time. I doubt Musk does his own grocery shopping, and Branson likely doesn't scrub his own toilets.
Let's say someone with bad time management goes to the grocery store every day, and the nearest one is a 10 minute drive away. They spend at minimum 45 minutes going to and from the grocery store, choosing food, waiting in checkout lines etc every day. That's over 5 hours per week! Musk spends 0 hours. But it's not all or nothing. Instead, a 30 minute investment of planning out a general meal schedule and grocery list for it on Sunday, and one trip to the grocery store might take an hour and a half. That's 3.5 hours of savings per week!
Repeat this for cooking, cleaning around the house, etc, and I guarantee you can find significant time savings in systemizing routines. If you save even 2 hours every week, that's an entire 8 hour work day per month. If you make, let's say, $300 daily as a software engineer that's quite a bit of savings! Even... maybe enough to hire a house cleaner and someone to do grocery shopping for you.
In my experience the best way to de stress is to walk, but that's obviously not feasible for most. It's worth moving to make it possible, in my opinion.
Mass transit is pretty awesome too. Even if it takes longer, you can plug in your headphones and zone, netflix and chill, or best of all, take a nap.
Biking in urban areas can be pretty stressful, but the exercise it provides is pretty effective at helping the body recover from stress.
Mass transit would be much more appealing if you could, though!
Depends where you live. For me mass transit at rush hour is incredibly stressful.
Commuter rail might not be as crowded but has its own set of issues.
But I've always lived in places with polite people, especially at rush hour. We may be jammed in but we're polite.
Instead of taking a train and bus 30+ minutes to work, I leave when I want and know it will take me around 15 minutes to get there. Maybe I'm weird, but I find driving a lot more relaxing than public transport (at the moment it's really hot here so AC helps). If I want to get groceries I can stop in a supermarket on my way home from work, instead of walking 15 minutes each way (bonus: it also has a bigger selection and cheaper prices).
If I want to get out of the city it's easy, I can drive for 20 minutes instead of taking trains and buses for 1 1/2 hours and I'm at the sea. Before if I wanted to do that I'd book a car from a rental place, go collect it, return it hoping I didn't get any scratches, where as now I can be spontaneous.
Having a car can be expensive (I estimate over the life of my car it'll cost me around €2000/year + fuel) but for the benefits it provides, to me that is a justifiable cost.
I'm learning to hate cars. The damn things are a time sink. In the UK we have to take cars for MOT each year and generally we service once a year. That's two half days gone, but I try to make best use of the time by working in a coffee shop while it happens.
Then there are the unforeseen things. Door locks breaking. Tyre replacements. Punctures. Remembering to top up the air in the tyres. Washing them (I pay for someone to do this, but it's still something on your mind). Replacing wipers. And the wiper fluid of course. Checking oil and tyre pressure.
Just the sheer time I spend in petrol stations. Why aren't all petrol stations self pay? I try to avoid ones where I have to go into a shop but it's not always possible.
Insurance. Oh great, the yearly "you raised my premium 10% but I can see I can get it cheaper online" phone call. I resent having to make this.
And then there's the cost.
Sorry, that turned into a rant.
You could hire a chauffeur and make him take the car for MOT and everything else but that's so much more expensive that you don't consider it an option. You could get a bike and put some milk crates on the back but that's so much less effective you don't consider it an option.
There's very few true necessities. A lot of resources can be saved if you manage to identify a "necessity" that you can work around by leveraging specific aspects of your situation.
For me it's a much tougher decision because the costs are much higher due to mandatory both-ways insurance being required. I basically can't afford to have both savings and a car where I live. Damn shame though, because I would benefit immensely from having a light truck (something the size of a Hilux).
If I want to bring handguns to a range, the law basically requires that I own an automobile. If I want to get construction materials or inexpensive/exotic Korean groceries, I need an automobile.
Your estimate for the cost of owning your vehicle is actually considerably lower than just having a public transit pass for that same year where I live.
+1 from me. Public transport in London is a nightmare during rush hour, I'd happily trade that for an equivalent drive. Probably wouldn't be (much?) more expensive either.
The tube during rush hour is a special kind of hell. People do it because driving through London at those times is pointless, you'd never arrive. Lesson learned the hard way.
Car with a driver. Flexibility + you get to do other stuff besides driving.
But I guess affording that means more work and stuff.
The average man spends nowhere near 90 minutes a day on 'attire and grooming.'
Most people don't work out an hour a day either.
Laundry? No way that's 2 hours per week.
Most people don't cook every meal either. And making a sandwich or pouring a bowl of cereal sure as hell don't take 30 minutes.
Here are some actual statistics that weren't randomly pulled out of my ass and subsequently upvoted on Hacker News:
I have 2 kids - i have to directly manage a relationship with my wife, with each kid, with both kids, and with my wife and both kids. She has to do the same. I have to indirectly manage a relationship between the two kids, and with the wife and both/each kids.
To do it right would mean breaking up those 10 free hours I might have into each of the above.
For those of us who have kids, you just sit back some days and wonder... How little we recognized at the time, the sheer freedom of being able to just head out for dinner or a drink any day of the week, plop down and watch whatever movie we wanted, sleep in on the weekends, etc.
OP does acknowledge the workload of having children is "indefinite" but doesn't really do justice to the reality of raising children.
The funny thing is how that theoretical 10 hours per week of free time will somehow make way for the ~40 hours per week spent on the children. Shopping for new shirts because they don't excite you anymore? Yeah, parents ain't got time for that BS!
And this is a deep confession that I've never really told anyone: I envy my divorced friends with kids. Every other week they (usually) are child free. And get to do things like mow grass, have a dinner with an SO at a place that doesn't have a built-in playground, or go on weekend trips on a whim. That guaranteed time without children that you get from custody agreements has a ton of perks. I won't admit this out loud, though.
You should give it a try, my wife and I get occasional nights and weekends off, its pretty nice. Also we live in an area with an active city parks and rec, and we have a childless date night with each other this very Friday night, I don't even know what parks and rec class my wife signed the kids up for (probably the fall kickball tournament, the Halloween party is next month). We also send them to day camps a couple times each summer so we have some married adult time while the kids are theoretically getting exercised, educated, and socialized.
My experience is "For profit" camps tend to charge what the market will bear ($$$$$) and always have openings. Parks and rec charge what it actually costs to provide the activity (maybe $20/day/kid?) but reservation slots fill up fast every year.
1 day off to every 5 on or 2 to 10 is a very different pattern than 7 to 7 consistently until they're grown and hopefully self-sustaining.
Taking care of kids is relatively scalable, in that it's a full-time job for one person to "engage" (and I don't mean "watch" or "babysit" or "entertain" but more like "actively plan and execute a meaningful day's activies") one child, and it's nearly the same full-time job for one person to engage six children.
So I imagine sometimes how much better a job I could do if I could really focus and devote my full time and attention for 1 whole day out of 7 on a small group of children. What would we be able to plan and go out and accomplish and learn about? If you had 6 adults taking shifts with 6 - 10 kids?
I'm very lucky to be able to command a high hourly rate for software consulting. So I can work <40 hours a week and still earn enough to outsource 90% of the items on this list (cooking, cleaning, etc.). I definitely have way more free time now than I ever did as a student.
Seriously, people always act as though students have an easy life. In my experience, I was much busier and less happy when I was in college. Not to mention that real work is, for me, much more meaningful than the fake work which constitutes most "education."
Also, technology really has reduced a lot of these time demands. If you're still manually paying bills or balancing your finances, you really need to automate that. There's no reason to spend more than 15 minutes a week on that sort of thing.
The people who work their butt off in college (by some combination of working while going to school and going all out in a difficult major) usually have an increase in free time once they're only working 40 or 50hr per week and not bringing their work home every day.
I dry clean my clothes myself, so yeah I agree clothes _can_ take up to 2 hrs. But picking out what to wear and polishing your shoes shouldn't count as an extra 10.5 hours a week.
Most people enjoy buying stuff, especially if it requires research because then they get psyched about it. Who doesn't like a new car? Other than that, it should be pretty rare to need to research for window cleaning products. You just buy what looks alright on the shelf and if it sucks don't buy it again.
The rest I'll agree with. Most people I see that "waste" their time are doing things like, marathoning Game of Thrones, drinking or celebrating something.
Here are some real wastes:
- Going after companies to get your money back for either incorrectly or over charging you, or charging you for services not rendered.
- "Market forces" raising prices, causing you to move right freaking next door so your rent can stay the same, or even lower.
- How about those Dr. appointments that you scheduled, only so you can wait an extra hour to actually be seen.
- Warranty covered oil changes that take an hour or even two (last time it happened to me).
- Standing in a 40 minute long line at the store because despite having 30 register's, they only have 2 cashiers. There is self checkout but of course it's already full of people struggling to understand how the machine works, or they're just generally slow moving.
- Holiday traffic/parking, where do all these vehicles come from? Even small towns get congested it's a real mystery to me.
- Spontaneously waking up in the middle of the night for a few hours, then oversleeping the next morning. Also, you need to go to bed early now to make it up.
- Paperwork for just about any government related activity. I just listed my SSN on three different pages why do I still have to fill this in again?
BTW, if you want to reformat your list so it can be read without scrolling left and right for each line, you can use a · on each item, leave a blank line between them, and not indent it. The typography sucks but not quite as bad as what you have now.
People are "busy" because they fill every waking hour with something to do. If they ever find themselves without something to do, they make something up or change something so it provides some perceived benefit and takes more time.
For example, I dated a girl who said she had no free time, despite only working 1 job part time and basically never going out. I eventually found out it was because she'd do things like walk go to the grocery store for fresh food every single day. And then complain that she didn't have enough time to spend with her son.
I'm not blaming her. It's her choice, and there's nothing wrong with it.
But that incident made me look at my own life and I realized that any time I could possibly be bored, I'd find something do to. For me, it was usually something fun in the name of de-stressing. If I ever managed to get bored with everything I had, I'd pick up a new hobby. I now have far, far too many hobbies to actually do much of any one of them, and I switch between them as I get bored.
As I look around, I see others doing this as well. The idea of simply sitting and getting bored is basically impossible. At the worst, there's always cable TV or Netflix or something, and shows you just have to watch.
It's quite fascinating once you can look in on it from the outside.
So I guess some people may be "busy" by inventing activities to avoid boredom (I'm pretty sure I know a lot of people like that), but others would love to have more free time to spend it on even more things they're already interested in.
Note that I'm also not saying that people's priorities aren't differently or that any of them are wrong.
To re-use my example, having fresh vegetables every day is awesome, it's just that going to the supermarket for them every single day is a waste of time. Even every other day is a huge improvement and doesn't result in the vegetables being any worse off. That 30-60 minutes saved every second day could have been spent with her son instead, as she clearly desires. But something in her mind kept her in the same cycle, "busy" all the time.
The point is, a lot of the things we do in our adult lives are bullshit errands that exist only because of habit, custom or societal expectations. I'm in progress of trying to get rid of as much of them as possible (and automate others), to reclaim some free time for actually productive endeavours.
Also I like hiking but lets get real sometimes the weather sux or its dark out or the air is clouded with bugs... and the supermarket is well lit, flat, hvac, bug free, sometimes I just need to put a couple thousand steps on the ole step counter...
I am also an amazon S+S user like yourself and a HUGE gripe I have is UPC churn. So I subscribe to three gigantic mouthwash bottles delivered every six months and like clockwork each time that rolls around the UPC has been cancelled/discontinued and I need to shop a fresh for something inflation adjusted to be 1.5 oz smaller for their profit or whatever. I would like to S+S to a more generic product/service like ship me qty three of two month sized (enormous) mouthwash bottles twice a year of minty fluoride freshness and I don't care the exact brand or the exact size to the mL.
The labor part is also a good point. I used to order groceries online and pick them up and found it easier to just go to the store. Only when I got S+S setup, and started using services like Blue Apron was I finally out of the labor of managing a delivery. I still go to the store every week or so, but it's to grab fruit, milk, and soda. I'm in and out in just a few minutes depending on when I go.
Whereas before you'd spend time thinking about the rest of the week to make a list, dash around the kitchen to check the essentials, drive to the store, spend > 30 minutes in the store getting everything, drive back, ... Probably 1.5-2 hours total.
A lot of the time in my 60 hour weeks is just sitting on meetings I don't even need to attend. Or flying to a client when we could have a phone call.
You're not busy if you're watching a day and a half's worth of television every week. It's one of my pet peeves to hear people say their busy when so much time is devoted to a mindless activity.
Imagine what could be accomplished if instead of turning on and tuning out, people choose to devote that time to side projects, gardening, some other creative hobby, or time spent enjoying nature and each others company.
I've been living in the US for a couple of years, and have thoroughly enjoyed it, but it occurs to me that life is more "rushed" than I'm used to from Denmark.
RE: 1) Have Money
The standard work week is 37 hours. I love my job, but this leaves me plenty of time to do other stuff I enjoy.
RE: 6) Bills, Bills, Bills
Living in the US for a couple of years taught me this: cheques are a real thing and most payment processes are manual.
Denmark: I no longer receive bills. The banking infrastructure allow consumers to "subscribe" to businesses, who can then withdraw the correct amount. If the amount increases the consumer won't have to change a thing. And it is easy to unsubscribe again :)
RE: 8) Transport + 9) Staying Healthy
Get a bike and combine commuting with exercise ;)
RE: 11) Taxes
Paying taxes in the US is A PAIN. Ordinary people need to hire an accountant (and still do most of the grunt work themselves) to make sure they pay the right amount.
Denmark: fully automated system. Yes, the government has access to my bank account and investments (!privacy!), but my only tax-related action is to click "Accept" once a year.
We have this in the US (almost all businesses have an 'Automatic Bill Pay' or similar)
But businesses are very routinely "slightly-corrupt" here, so many don't trust it. Businesses will purposefully withdraw more than they should, and make you fight to get it back. Or will raise prices without telling you. Or will continue to bill you after you unsubscribe (if they let you unsubscribe at all).
Often you have to yell or make threats to people on telephones, or publicly harass a company on Twitter / Facebook, or manually withhold payment, to get any kind of appropriate response.
This creates an atmosphere where people don't trust businesses with "subscriptions" or automation of any kind of bills. Which further perpetuates the antique cheque-based bill payment process. It's not a technology problem (we have the technology). It's more of a "poisoned trust" issue.
> RE: 11) my only tax-related action is to click "Accept" once a year.
We have this in the US -- the IRS is already capable of offering this. It's just illegal for them to do so, because of Intuit's political influence. (Again with the businesses being corrupt...)
It still takes me about 30 minutes at most to electronically pay every bill that will take it and balance my account.
I think its easy to pick apart the specific numbers but it is also a good way to think about how you want to spend your time vs how you do by default. And that will let you make decisions about optimizations and time/money trade offs. For example you can just eat Soylent and not cook at all (not a good tradeoff in my opinion) or automate bill paying and bill management. Living in a place without lawn care requirements vs living with some amount of garden.
It also points out why married people (and people in committed relationships) have "more" free time as many of these jobs can be done for 2 people in the domicile in the same time as 1 person. So you can split them up and complete them in parallel, freeing up time.
"Well for four to six hours we do X,Y,Z very focused and intensely and then we rest and think subconsciously/do nothing".
"Wait you mean you're only doing this halftime?"
"No we chose to do it this way because there's some decent research that suggests this is both the most efficient way of doing it and the most healthy way of doing it. It's a full time job."
The current system transfers gains over to land. Silicon valley being a prime example, all on their big salaries with big rents. Zuckerberg and a bunch of land owners got rich, the latter without raising a finger.
The real answer, individual consultants, and self-run people aside, is that if you DONT work more (to employers standard), you become unemployed.
If you have a rare, valuable skill, employers will be willing to pay handsomely for your time, but they will demand a lot of your time. IF you are good enough, they will be even willing to pay you premium to have you not use your skills for anyone else. The caveat is that these arrangements are, more often than not, non-negotiable. It is an all or nothing proposition.
On the other hand, if your skills are commodity, potential employers will be happy to hire you part time (so they do not have to give you any benefits). However, your wage will be so low that, more often than not, you'll want to juggle two or more part-time jobs so you can earn a reasonable compensation that actually pays for your living expenses.
In a nutshell, we're busy because people value things based on the perceived effort that goes into them. This is why people are frustrated if it takes you 1 minute to update their website but still want £100. So if you appear to be very busy, you appear to be putting more effort into your work. The same applies to parenting - we think busy parents are perceived as better parents. At least, that's the argument made in the programme.
I don't do my taxes because I can buy an accountants time, but I can't buy more "time".
It's another reason I don't want a huge collection of "stuff". "Stuff" takes your time.
I don't have a car for this reason, and I live in a city that doesn't require one.
But the article is motivating me to be more explicit about the things that take time. To make sure I spend that time doing what I want.
If I take my laundry to a laundromat, run it through the washer, move it to the drier, (run it through the drier again because it isn't dry), fold and put it all away, it costs me about $12 in quarters. It also costs me two or three hours of time, where I'm pretty much stuck at the laundromat, unable to do anything really worthwhile.
If I drop the laundry off at the laundromat and have them do it for me, that wash-dry-fold service usually costs about $30. I toss it in a bag, stop at the laundromat on the way to work, then on the way home that night I stop in again and pick up bags of fresh, nicely folded laundry, with all my shirts on hangers. It's so much easier, and trading a little bit of money for time not spent doing something tedious is a big win.
If something needs ironing I either don't buy it in the first place, or I have it dry cleaned just to get in ironed.
Let me give you one example. Birthdays. My wife has two sisters and both parents are alive. That's 5 events a year. Double that for my family. 10 events a year. That's basically once a month I'm spending a weekend afternoon or evening. That's just birthdays.
Add kids in and suddenly every other weekend is filled with something. That isn't including extended family.
* Shopping — Don't shop, except for the necessities (and when you need them, buy in bulk). I generally feel like having stuff adds stress to my life. My girlfriend and I once had a somewhat humorous argument over whether a kitchen table is really a "need".
* House maintenance — I'll probably rent apartments as long as I can get away with it, but because all of the best high schools are usually in the suburbs, I imagine I'll need a house once I have kids. It will be a small house, but well built. Poured from concrete so I don't have to worry about weather and tornados (most American houses are made from cheap wood). No wallpaper — that stuff gums up all of the time and is a pain to clean. No carpet or wood — carpet is a grime magnet and wood gets scuffed up. I'll use large tiles on my floors (or at least those ceramic tiles that look like wood). I'll have a tiny yard. If I have to mow, I don't want it to take more than five minutes.
* Commuting — After the initial years of my career, I want a job that requires a commute no longer than 10-15 minutes. Living near a city center or finding a remote job are both solutions to this. My brother-in-law drives 3 hours a day for his job; I can't imagine giving away that much of my time.
The key to having more time is to try to think about how every decision you make might cost time in the future. Granted, many people may not be able to make free time because of circumstances beyond their control, but I think these tips and this kind of thought process can at least help a little bit.
I work 40 hours a week (arrive at 9, leave at 6, with 1 hour for cooking/eating). I am married and it seems that my wife and I evenly split the work between cooking (me) and cleaning (mostly her). We buy groceries together every second day and take about 30 minutes to do so. I spend absolutely no time managing my bills as they are automated and nobody has credit card debt in Europe. I have very few errands. I bike to work for a grand total of 1.7 hours a week which I count as fitness. I go to the gym 3 times a week for a total of about 4.5 hours. We have no children and that is a life decision. I don't spend more than an hour each day grooming/dressing, nor does my wife, what is the author doing? Yes, I sleep 8 hours a day and spend about 10.5 hours eating.
Now, where does the difference come? Well if I worked 60 hours a week I would lose half of my free time, but overworking is really silly. The difference in commute alone gives me nearly an hour a day of extra time to myself compared to the author. Also, if you can enjoy cooking, that is time that is productively spent. So learn to enjoy cooking. You should be enjoying your meals too, so thinking of those hours as cost is a bit sad.
Many religious people find time to pray three times a day and still be very productive.
Today, corporations have happily made this situation they own your time for 8 hours a day and you are afraid to lose your steady paycheck, so in many jobs, you pretend to work those 8 hours, refuse to build anything of value for yourself or others for fear of getting fired. It is a bit of an infantile mentality that's conditioned for 40 hours a week. Sweden has just moved to a 6-hour day!
In the past, people didn't have netflix or facebook. You'd see photos of people chilling outside, and in real life. More people were out. Playing sports etc. That's not on your list!
Maybe being a real adult is an unwise investment of time if you can afford to do without it.
If you are spending an hour a week tracking bills, or even 1/2 hour, you aren't taking advantage of your bank. We set up auto bill pay whenever we can. I prefer to have it through my bank or my credit card rather than through the service provider doing EFT, because it's easier to shut off and it centralizes the view.
That doesn't mean you can totally put this task on autopilot, just that automation can make sure you don't have late fees and that you don't spend money on stamps.
Once you leave the U.S. and live in other nations for a while, in some of those you will quickly realize that the ideas and observations in this article are so clearly Americanized. Life doesn't have to be the way it is described here, and without giving up any contributions to the world or standard of living.
I shave once every two weeks. Most of the time I have a scruffy patchy beard. I love being lazy. The downside is I'm perpetuating a bad stereotype. Perhaps engineers would have higher social status if we dressed the part.
My mentality, and I hope I don't break away from this (and continue down a spiral of working too much) is to gradually reduce my workload as my son gets older. Right now he's a tiny baby who I can support by ensuring I help with feedings and care so my partner can be happy as well. That's easy, and I can focus on boosting my career in the mean time. It helps he goes to bed at 7pm, so I am able to catch up on work after hours. It's not ideal, but it's the reality right now. To achieve what we want as a family.
Once he's older, I want to be able to spend actual daddy time and interact with him in a meaningful way. That's the goal, at least.
Didn't mean to make my comment sound like I am neglecting my child, but I could see how it could be perceived that way!
FWIW, I know plenty of adults that complain about boredom and they are most definitely the ones that are doing something wrong. Not because they aren't filling whatever free time they have with some other form of work, but because they don't know how to enjoy the free time that they get (lack of hobbies/interests/etc.), and/or they don't know how to relax and enjoy doing nothing.
As people get older the concept of their own mortality becomes more and more tangible, which makes each moment seem more precious. To a kid being bored is an annoyance, but to an adult being bored is more like a lost opportunity at best and a personal failing at worst.
A lot of this stuff is kind of... exaggerated. There's no real metrics except for these "small piece of day" x "five days a week" to make it seem dramatic. Not much value in this post.
When I make kids (my pokémon if you will), I plan to sit'em down and ELI5 what life is like for the average adult. I will work with them develop their own income streams, based on things they are passionate about. This way, they can avoid a life of modern slavery.
2 hours for dependents? I take it that doesn't mean children?
Another thing I will never understand is how so many of my fellow American Males can watch basically every football game during the week. Who has time for that? I don't even have a single friend outside of my family because it's just too time consuming.
For federal contractors, any extra hours must be paid (not legal to work for free) so normally it's only 40, or perhaps 47 at a real sleazy place.
But then you're made redundant in the name of 'finding inefficiencies' due to the merger and find yourself with...nothing outside the office that defines you.
To fix it, we should become contractors or 4 day week workers.
Doing the laundry is a good example. With a 4 person household, this takes up a lot of time! A robot to take this chore away from me would be extremely valuable. I can't wait for technology to advance so these become available.
Also, I think there is a vast difference between spending time on something that is intrinsically rewarding, and on something that isn't.
Others spend their days in front of tv. This saddens me. Imagine telling the young intern that after you sell your practice you spend your days watching tv. Day in day out.
Or the widow who is always on her couch.
Or the well off retired exec trying to figure out how to spend years and years of days ahead of him.
Being rich and old and not working is a bad formula.
everyone is afraid of not sounding busy.
One thing the author missed in his, otherwise spot-on calculations, is the fact that after spending a certain amount of time on one task - namely work for most people, marginal hours of "free time" afterwards are actually not "free time" - they're hours spent in mental recovery.
This varies for each person, but you see a recurring theme of people sitting on their couch or in front of their computer just staring at a screen. But their mindless staring is only telling half the story.
Could they possibly just go to sleep? Sure, but waking up at 4AM has even worse implications on the next work day. These people are recovering by doing nothing.
This is why so many of my friends who saved up a nest egg as developers have recently quit their jobs upon hitting quarter-life crisis. All of a sudden, they now have the free time to do other development work they enjoy (often more productively), pursue other hobbies, cook, build/create art, fill up their day with MORE than just the monolith of the work day, and come out feeling "less busy" despite having achieved more than when they were employed.
The work week really is a monolith. Spending over 1/3 of your entire day on this monolith has implications on the other 2/3 of your day.
10 years ago I had all the time in the world, even though I was an adult - a single, childless adult.
The crucial #1 thing that's entirely missing from this list, though, is cultivating personal connections with other people. That's the thing about your life that most strongly determines your happiness, as well as your professional success, your educational opportunities, and your love life (obviously). And it's not just a matter of taking care of dependents (#13), because it involves people who aren't your dependents, too. This list implicitly relegates that to last place, behind ironing your shirts, fixing dents in your car, and fucking off at the gym. Don't do that. Spend time on connecting with other people every day. Help them. Listen to them. Work with them. Play with them. If you don't, your life is going to be terrible, no matter how much money you have, how clean your toilet is, or how up-to-date your sound system is.
I'm not speaking theoretically here, although there's lots of psychological theory backing up what I'm saying. I knew a number of people who killed themselves. Don't be the next one. Connect. On your deathbed you aren't going to wish you'd owned a more complete set of cutlery.
And this is, in my experience, the biggest difference from childhood — you have to deliberately connect with people, because it doesn't happen by default. As a child, your parents will invite people to your birthday party. As an adult, if you don't invite people to your birthday party, you won't have a birthday party. This is more an opportunity than a burden, because it means you choose who to create connections with.
What about the rest of this stupid list?
I'm going to mention my life from time to time in what's below, but I don't want you to get the wrong idea. I'm far from a paragon, of self-discipline or anything else. I'm not holding my life up as a model to be emulated, although it does reflect my own values to some extent. I'm saying, if even I can do this shit, any fucking idiot can do it. Probably you can do better.
1. "Have money". Okay, I like to have money. I like to work, too. I've paid my own way (and sometimes some other people's ways) since I was 18; I've been lucky in that this has been a lot easier for me than for most people. But honestly, I haven't been shallow enough to equate financial independence with adulthood since I was about 12. Housewives aren't adults? But I was an adult when I was paying my rent by working at Taco Bell? Please.
How much you have to work to make a living has a lot to do with how much you spend and how much you can bill. Financially independent people's spending, even in the US, varies from a few thousand dollars a year up to hundreds of thousands, without even getting into the super-wealthy. Workers get paid anywhere from US$10 per hour (or even less for prisoners and illegal aliens) up to US$1000 per hour or more. Outside the US, the variation is even greater.
Don't tell me that across this entire range of expenses and earnings you have to work "40–60 hours a week" in order to have money. You work that number of hours because it's the norm, not because your living expenses magically adjust to match your earnings within 15%. Then, you spend however much you make, instead of what you need, because you're a fucking idiot. I've been there too, man. It sucks. But you can stop doing that, unless you're at the bottom of the income distribution or have extra expenses.
2. "Cooking." You can totally cook if you want to. Cooking is an enjoyable activity, and feeding people even more so. But you definitely don't have to spend half an hour cooking breakfast every day if you're short on time. Boil half a dozen eggs on Sunday night, have an egg and a banana for breakfast each morning. Make a casserole on Saturday, eat slices for dinner all week. Have peanut-butter sandwiches and salad for lunch. Cook dinner for yourself, a partner, and two friends; then you only cook dinner one out of every four times, unless you somehow get slotted into a housewife role. Boil eggs, chopped onion, and cheese in a Ziploc bag to make a Ziploc omelet. Chop vegetables on Tuesday night and use the vegetables in food for the rest of the week. Use dried onion and garlic in bottles. Make three liters of cooked rice and eat from it the rest of the week, or use a rice cooker. Keep a seasoned salt mix in a shaker. Keep oils for cooking in squirt bottles with conical nozzles next to the stove. Make a big batch of curry, pack it into a dozen big Ziploc bags, and freeze them all with separators in between.
My breakfast this morning was canned mackerel, wheat crackers, and a peanut bar; lunch was instant noodles. (I'm trying not eating after midday this week, although I'm buying the food rather than begging for it in the street in the traditional way.)
3. "Laundry." Don't dry-clean your own clothes, as the article bizarrely suggests; that's dangerous enough to outsource to a specialized company. Don't fold your clothes except on special occasions; wear knits instead. Wear your clothes twice before washing. Wear flip-flops instead of socks. Synthetics dry faster, but I can't wear them more than once; I can wear silk, wool, or cotton twice. You can get laundry down to 20 minutes a week (per person) if you have a washing machine.
4. "Cleaning." This is largely a matter of how much living space you have, although yeah, I probably spend a few hours a week washing dishes. When my then wife and I lived in a van, we sure as hell didn't spend 5 hours a week each cleaning it. We probably didn't spend two hours a week between the two of us. (We did have to spend a lot of hours fixing it, though...)
5. "Buying stuff." This is the only one on the list that actually saves you time — buying bookshelves is a hell of a lot faster than making them, not to mention toothpaste. But I've still wasted a terrible fraction of my life on it. You can reduce the time you waste on buying things by buying in bulk, often by buying online, by buying things that last, and by possessing less. (If you are poor, you may find yourself obliged to possess a great many things, just in case; but if you are not poor, you can take advantage of the opportunity afforded by your money to only buy the things you do need.)
6. "Bills." My roommate and I have six bills: rent, internet+telephone, gas, electricity, water, and property tax. Most of these come once every two months. (The property tax we can pay yearly.) It definitely doesn't take us 16 hours every two months between the two of us to track and pay them. Don't live alone; that's a stupid waste of time. Of course, if you pick the wrong roommate, you could waste a lot more than 16 hours arguing... but that hasn't been a problem.
7. "Small errands." Yes, these can take an unbounded amount of time. Avoid them as much as possible. A lot of these come from your possessions and bills.
8. "Transport." Yes, it's easy to waste hours a day on transport (to say nothing of the time you work to pay off a car loan). I live 20 minutes away from my office by public transit or bicycle. Usually I read or write on the bus; sometimes it's too crowded. About once a month, I have to top up the transit pass. This is a 45-second cash transaction at the ticket counter in the subway station. I should probably spend a couple of hours getting my bicycle back in working order, because it's often more convenient.
It's easy to get into a position where you're spending two or four or six hours a day on transport, and worse, transport that consumes your entire attention. If you're in that position, recognize that it's an urgent problem and you need to get out of it. Only isolation from other human beings is more psychologically damaging than long commutes, and only serious illness wastes more time.
9. Exercise. (The article says "staying healthy", but ⓐ that's a lost cause, you're going to fucking die just like everybody else, and ⓑ eating is already point #2.) What the fuck is wrong with you that you drive a car to a job five days a week and then lack exercise? How about walking a little bit? I walk about a kilometer a day to get to the bus or subway, two or three kilometers most days. If I bike to work and back that's five kilometers. Also you could work (in the traditional sense of the word). I'm sure there's something in your house that could use some elbow grease. A few weeks ago I was also taking the stairs the fifty meters up to the office — this takes four minutes. I think I'll start again tomorrow.
All of this can get a great deal more time-consuming if you're poor, because you're desperately trying to avoid disaster by carefully juggling things here and there. There may not be anything you can do about that, but if you're in that position because you're just spendthrift (as suggested in point #1), then get a grip.
11. "Taxes." Yes.
12. "Responsibility for yourself." Yes.
13. "Responsibility for your dependents." Yes, some of this is unavoidable, but note that many people choose to spend an enormous amount of time on it at no real benefit to their dependents. Also, to some extent you can influence how many dependents you have — the most responsible choice is to be childfree, because the human population is not in any danger of dying out from under-breeding. You may still have parents, siblings, adopted children, and so on to take care of, but you'll have less dependents and correspondingly more autonomy if you don't add to the population problem by breeding.
14. "Being sick." Yes.
15. "One time errands." Yes.
16. "Long term planning." Yes, this is the main thing. It should be #2, after cultivating friendships and other connections with other people, not #16.
1. "Attire and grooming." There are jobs that do require fancy clothes (even ironed shirts and ties! even now!) and you should count that as part of the work hours when you are considering taking such a job. I've had the wonderful good luck to work almost exclusively at jobs where I could show up in a T-shirt and slacks and get a haircut every month or three and be fine. In the spring, summer, and fall I usually take cold showers, which cuts my shower time to about three minutes. You can brush your hair walking down the street if you don't just shave it off.
2. "Sleeping." Yes, this is super important.
3. "Eating." Yes, this is super important, although I certainly don't spend 10½ hours a week on it.