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Over the weekend, I found myself staring gloomily at the pile of paperwork on my desk, worrying about impending deadlines and wondering where all my time had gone. How many of us have found ourselves wishing for a few extra hours or an eighth day in the week, just so we could catch up on all the things we’d like to do. Where does the time go?

According to an article in Time magazine (how ironic is that?), we don’t have less leisure time than we did 40 years ago – we actually have more. In fact, when the numbers are added up, we get an extra 45 minutes per day in leisure time. So why does it feel like we have less time? And what are we doing with that extra time? The same article provides statistics on how the average American divides their time in a 24-hour day. The report showed data for both men and women, married and single. The article was published in 2006, so some of these numbers might be a little skewed, particularly those that deal with Internet and telephone use.

Notice just how much time Americans spend watching television as compared to the time spent at work. I can only imagine that statistics for Canada are very similar. Next time you wonder where all the time went, think about how much you spend in front of your flat-screen TV.

Top 10 things we do with our time

According to, besides the time we invest in our careers, here are the top 10 things we do with our time:

10. Watching TV. No surprise here – Canadians love their television. I mean, what better way to relax after a long day at work than throw your feet up on the coffee table and settle into an hour or two of quality (or not so quality) programming.

9. Eating. All that work means the body demands fuel – and more fuel – in the form of food. Although, food service has gotten faster and many of us eat on the go, we still devote quite a bit of time to the act of eating.

8. Bathroom time. Believe it or not, we spend an awful lot of time in the bathroom, whether it’s for showering, freshening up or that other thing. Makes you wonder why we don’t spend more time making the bathroom a little more comfortable.

7. Communicating. The world of communication has changed. Most of us have cell phones that we use regularly to communicate with one another – whether it’s through text, online chat, social media or by actually (gasp!) talking to one another. With all this communication going on, maybe it’s time to reevaluate what we’re actually saying. Just how much time do we waste “communicating” with one another, by saying nothing at all?

6. Surfing the internet. I remember the day I discovered the internet. It wasn’t that long ago, really. Many of us spend aimless hours surfing the internet, searching for… what is it we’re looking for? Honestly, some days I sit at my desk and although I feel like I’ve been working hard, I realize I’ve been doing nothing but wasting time. Next time you wonder where the time went, consider shutting the computer off for a week.

5. Reading. This one surprised me. I would have thought that more people spent time watching TV than reading, but when we consider the amount of reading done on the Internet or on our phones, reading’s place on this list becomes a little less surprising.

4. Wishing. Despite increased freedom and opportunity, we still spend a remarkable amount of time wishing for something better. Perhaps we should take the time to be thankful for what we do have, rather than wasting it wishing for something better.

3. Sex. According to the article found on, we spend a lot of time thinking, planning and hoping for sex – but not nearly as much time actually performing it. That’s a whole lot of time spent on something we’re not actually doing. Interesting.

2. Travelling. Whether we’re travelling for vacation or just getting ourselves from point A to B, we spend a lot of time en route. When you consider that this is the No. 2 thing that we spend our time doing, it’s a wonder that we even want to travel anywhere on our vacations. Perhaps we should just relax and spend some time at home.

1. Sleeping. Exhausted from all of the other things we do, we spend a good third of our lives in bed sleeping. I wouldn’t recommend giving up sleep to try to make time for other things. Sleep is necessary, making it possible to enjoy what leisure time you do find.

If only I had more time

How many times have you caught yourself saying this? On our daily to-do list, we often prioritize items by what needs to be done versus what can wait until later. Quite often the things like opening and closing accounts, looking into savings plans and looking for better credit card rates all get put on the back burner. They should be tackled first, though, since they will likely put you in a better position, financially speaking.

Make a list of the things you’ve been meaning to do and add one to your list each week with the promise that it will indeed get crossed off. Some items to include on this list might be:

  • 7-14 minutes on phone calls, emails and mail
  • 13-15 minutes on caring for non-household members
  • 16-21 minutes on religious and/or civic duties
  • 17-45 minutes caring for family
  • 7-51 minutes on educational activities
  • 38-58 minutes purchasing goods and services
  • 68-84 minutes eating and drinking
  • 80-136 minutes on household activities
  • 180-266 minutes on work-related tasks
  • 144-208 minutes watching TV
  • 9 hours and 15 minutes (approximately) on sleep and personal care
  • Make sure you're savings are working hard for you, consider a TFSA or a GIC
  • Compare credit card rates and rewards to see if there is a better option available
  • Clock your mortgage renewal date so you have ample time to consider your options
  • Plan for your retirement by looking into RRSPs
  • Make sure your bank accounts are up to date and that you’re not being charged for unnecessary services

The RATESDOTCA editorial team are experienced writers focused on sharing stories and bringing you the latest news in insurance and personal finance. Our goal is to provide Canadians with the information and resources they need to make better insurance and financial decisions.

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