Reviewing the average workweek
There are 168 hours in a week (unless you live on Mars). If you sleep an average of 7 hours per day (49 hours per week), you’re left with 119. After sleeping, work usually takes the second most amount of time at 40 hours. That leaves 79 hours to shower, eat breakfast, read the news and your favorite book, travel to work, see friends, spend time with family, cook dinner, and get ready to repeat it all day after day.
Let’s take a look at my schedule, as an example. Monday I work about 8 to 9 hours, and when I come home I usually need to put in another 30 minutes. Let’s call Monday 9 hours on average. Tuesday I work about 7 hours — that’s an easy one. Wednesday is a 10-hour day. Thursday is an 8-hour day. Then, Fridays are reserved for meetings, appointments, interviews, etc. It’s a “free” day, but I tend to fill it with work. Let’s call it 5 hours. The weekends tend to be dedicated to grading assignments and working on materials for the courses I teach. That takes up about 2-3 hours. Additionally, there are often homework assignments to be completed. That ranges from about 3-6 hours a weekend. If my math is correct, that means my workweek (including weekends) equals about 45 hours.
The variable graduate school schedule
There are peaks and valleys in graduate school schedules. Over the last few weeks I was working nearly 60-70 hours per week to write my dissertation proposal and complete all the homework assignments. As I previously mentioned, that pressure and intensity felt fantastic. I was energized and passionate. I cared about the final product.
On average, I’m looking at about 74 hours of non-scheduled time. Now, a lot of that gets lost on tedious chores and cleaning. One thing I’ve noticed about living frugally is that I need to account more time for cooking and cleaning. Eating out really is more convenient from every standpoint. By eating in, I control my spending far better and usually reduce expenditures by hundreds of dollars, but there’s added time expenditures.
Then, there are the trips to the grocery store. Errands like these eat up quite a lot of time, as the stores are large and quite a distance from where I live. It’s easy to spend about 30-45 minutes per week in the store. Slowly, as these tasks add up, my schedule gets eaten away. For the most part, it works though. I have time for everything I need to do, and usually can sit back and watch a TV show every now and then.
Upping the commitments, time at work
Now, I’m contemplating adding some commitments. Over the last few weeks I’ve been pursuing, applying, and following up regarding various work opportunities. There’s a little debt left that I need to clear out to be completely clean when I graduate, and I’m eager to get rid of it. And there are some fantastic opportunities to do just that.
In the spring semester, I could potentially increase my income by $10,000 through two additional responsibilities. But I’m struggling to wrap my mind about the loss of time. One would require a full day — 12 hours, and the other could potentially be 6-8 hours per week. Together, they might add 20 hours to my current schedule. As in, my regularly scheduled routine would now be about 65 hours per week — scheduled.
Balance between life and money
To all the doctors and entrepreneurs out there, you might know these hours exceedingly well. But as I contemplate taking on these added commitments, I can’t help but think, what will be the quality of my life? Will I actually have time for those I care about? Will I be able to complete everything that’s asked of me? Will I be able to spend time on what I’m most passionate about?
The financially minded side of me relishes the prospect of extra funds. That kind of money would revolutionize my budget and jumpstart my retirement savings. Similarly, the activities could bolster my work experience, which would help for future applications. With dollar signs in my mind, I can’t help but think these are opportunities I cannot refuse. But at what cost to my sanity?
Time and money are intriguing variables. On one hand I preach the importance of fulfillment and moderation in work. I believe that life shouldn’t be all about work – it becomes somewhat empty if that’s the case. The other side makes me think money today means less work tomorrow (should I desire it). Compounding interest and savings can turn 40-year into 30-year plans for retirement. The initial time lost could be replaced by time gained in later years.
Today, I don’t have a decision to declare – only questions about the balance between work, life, and money. How many hours per week do you work? If you were faced with the opportunity to pad your wallet at the expense of your balance, would you do it? What would you consider?