How much time do we lose each year?

Reveal the astonishing truth about the time we lose on seemingly trivial tasks, and explore eye-opening ways to reclaim your life and make every moment count.

Have you ever thought about how much time we spend on everyday activities? Whether it’s getting to the airport, going to work, or just cooking, we are always busy with some things that don’t affect our lives that much, but we can’t do without them. In this article, we would like to discuss how much time we spend on everyday things like watching TV, getting ready for work, cooking, and looking for an airport taxi and how to minimize it.


I’d like to start with sleep because this is something that no one in captivity can do without. Sleep is necessary for the healthy functioning of our body, to prevent unnecessary stress, health problems, and excess weight, and simply for our productivity.

According to the Sleep Health Foundation, an average adult between the ages of 26 and 64 needs seven to nine hours of sleep daily. Therefore, if we assume that, on average, we sleep 8 hours a day, it turns out that we spend a third of our day just sleeping. And if we assume a longer distance, it amounts to almost 122 days or around four months of pure sleep in a year. This makes it clearer how much of our lives we spend on sleep. And unfortunately, we can’t do anything about it. Everyone needs to sleep and get energy from it. Therefore, the best advice is that each person needs to find the normal number of hours of sleep. Stay awake only when necessary and get something out of a small amount of sleep.

Cooking and nutrition

Next, we would like to talk about nutrition. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ American Time Use Survey (ATUS), and cited by the US Department of Agriculture, the average American, age 18 and over, spends 37 minutes per day cooking and cleaning. So you need to understand that someone spends less time, but some people can take even more time to eat, and in this case, they may be late and need a Chicago O’Hare taxi transfer. Otherwise, they will either be hungry or late for an important event.

Light brown wooden table with Mediterranean-like food, and people eating and drinking
The time we “lose” eating and drinking.

If you take some average measurements, you spend about 45 days or 1.5 months during the year. Yes, food is necessary, and we can only exist with it, but have you ever thought about how you can reduce the time spent on its preparation? The easiest way is to eat by delivery or in a restaurant. However, going to a restaurant can also take a lot of time. These are good methods, but not everyone can afford them.

Another method would be to prepare food at the end of the week for the whole next week. At the end of the week, for example, on Sunday, you spend several hours preparing a large amount of food and putting it into meal containers. Then during the week, you just take the container out for dinner, for example, and you don’t have to worry about what you will eat. You don’t look for new recipes or cook on those days. You only need to wash one plate. The good thing about this method is that you spend a few hours before the week starts and don’t even think about it for the whole week.

If you calculate in hours, then yes, it will take a lot of time to prepare a large amount of food that day, but it will still be less time than if you add up these hours of cooking every day.

Time spent on travel and preparation

Man in his 30s with hat and light brown backpack watching his phone while waiting for the train in the train station
The time we spend traveling

But what about traveling to work or on important business, wasting time on the road, and finding a way to get there? Let’s take the official data of scientists from the United States as an example, where the average commuting travel time is 27.6 minutes one way. This is almost an hour a day. And during the year, it is 15.6 days or a little more than two weeks. It should be understood that 27.6 minutes is not even a long time because this is an average number, taking into account small cities. For example, in a big city, this time can almost double. Have you ever thought about how long it takes to call an airport transfer and get to Chicago O’Hare International Airport, for example? Sometimes it can take an hour to find a quality airport taxi. And this is because you will need to wait for them to arrive and the trip cost. But, for example, if you call an airport taxi, the arrival will be as fast and high-quality as possible. 

Preparing for the workday and the work itself

This is another area where we spend a lot of time because, with work, we have a livelihood and can live. Preparing for the workday includes getting dressed, packing a lunch, organizing work materials, and checking the mail. According to official surveys, these activities take an average of 27 minutes daily. Over the year, this amounts to 9.8 days or a little over a week. And that’s just to get ready for the working day. And what if we take into account the working day itself? On average, it is 7-8 hours a day. And so this is a lot of time in terms of a year. 

Watching TV and social media

This is the most common waste of human time in the 21st century. According to a US Bureau of Labor Statistics survey cited by US News, the average person spends about 3.1 hours daily watching TV. That’s around 48 days a year spent in front of a TV. Imagine how much you could get done in that time. For example, reading a book, exercising, or spending time with loved ones could be more fulfilling and enriching activities. You could call an airport taxi and go on a trip. One you won’t forget for the rest of your life.

To summarize, we would like to count the hours we spend doing something together. But this would be very unpleasant information.

During the year, the average American spends 122 days sleeping, 45 days preparing food, eating or cleaning after serving, 15 days per year just going to and coming back from work, 83 days doing the work itself, and 48 days watching TV. We get to a total of 313 days, and we don’t consider sports, leisure, time spent with family or friends, shopping, talking over the phone, zapping websites or apps on our smartphones, gaming, and much more.

After all, it turns out that we spend most of our lives on ordinary things that often do not bring us any pleasure. Therefore, I would like to say that you should not count your every hour, even though we have few of them. Do what you like; then, every hour will be unlearned differently. After this analysis, it seems that time is our best non-regenerable resource. We need to “lose it” wisely.