Technology and Time Management for the New Year

By Nate Webster IMH       

“The new year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written. We can help write that story by setting goals.” – Melody Beattie

            The New Year is a time when many people start thinking about change. It’s a time where we turn over new leaves, imagine our better selves and try our best to set some goals that will make us better people. One area that many people try and change is their time management. Whether it's how they spend their time, not having enough time, or not knowing what to do with their time, time is undoubtedly an important even if fickle part of our life.

“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” - Andy Warhol

            If you are younger, your battle with time will be much different than someone who is older. Young people, particularly Millennials, have more opportunities to waste time, than any other generation that has ever lived. With distractions like the internet, social media and video games, young people are constantly tempted to spend their time on activities that don’t really add much to their lives. In an age of entertainment and distraction, companies are no longer just trying to get people's money, they are trying to get people's time. More time means brand loyalty and brand loyalty is good for business.

            If you are a young person and you are wanting to spend your time a little more wisely in this new year, let me share some statistics about how much time gets spent on video games, social media and screen time. Whether it is on the computer, console or handheld, there are hundreds of video games in the marketplace these days. One video game that has been particularly popular for over 15 years now is World of Warcraft. In a study reported by the Wall Street Journal and Kotaku, analysts calculated that this video game's 11 million users have put over 50 billion hours of time into the digital world. If you calculated that time in years, it would be 5.9 million years. Putting it another way, people have spent roughly 75,000 lifetimes playing this online game. Imagine what 75,000 lifetimes could accomplish in cancer research, fighting climate change, or volunteering for non-profits! What is perhaps most astounding is the fact that this is simply just one video game. One can only imagine how much time has been spent on video games altogether. Perhaps we have spent more time on video games than the age of our universe.

            Video games are just the beginning, though. When it comes to social media, the average internet user spent 2 hours and 15 minutes a day on the platform in 2017, with the number of people who use social media surpassing 2 billion in 2016. If you calculate those numbers, people spent roughly 4.5 billion hours of time on social media in 2017. That’s enough time to travel to the moon and back 3.1 million times. Imagine the extra money you could make, the education you could get, the healthy body you could achieve if you just cut back on your social media activity!

            Last is screen time, which is all the previous areas added up and then some. It unequivocally takes the prize for the amount of time people spend. Now in all fairness, many of us have to be in front of screens for work, but it is still important to report on the amount of time we spend in front of screens. If anything, to give you a sense of how pervasive it is and perhaps make you think twice if you really need to jump in front of a screen any more than you already do. A Nielsen Company audience report in 2016 found that Americans spend 10 hours a day in front of a screen, which is roughly 70 hours a week. This, hands down, takes the prize as the most amount of time we spend as Americans. In any given year the average American will spend roughly 3,600 hours in front of a screen, or 151 24-hour days. Time in front of a screen is usually time spent not with people, not reading a book and not going outside. Consider this challenge: do you need to spend any more time in front of a screen than you already do?

            As you think through better ways to spend your time in the new year, you now know just how much of your time has gone to video games, social media and screen time. Reducing just one of these areas could give you back more time than you could have imagined. Time that could allow you to do everything from learn a new language to saving tons of money. In this New Year, don’t think so much about a new you, think more about a new way to spend your time.

“The time is always right to do what is right” - Martin Luther King

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