The Myth of the 24Hr Day: Time is Money

BearMoney Team

BearMoney Team

BearMoney is the balanced finance blog for new and old Canadians alike. We are a team of people living international that research, write, and share

Time is Money

Find time to grow

The prevailing wisdom

We all wish that we had more time in our day. This is especially true with the modern lifestyle and FOMO caused by social media. It always seems like we’re chasing those few extra hours.

A lot of us can find it difficult to budget our time effectively and end up wasting a small portion of our lives either going the wrong direction or not moving at all. Usually this is because we have set much more time aside to do than to think and plan.

Even outside of our own ability to manage our time, our environment and personal circumstances create a unique definition of time for each of us. One of the stupidest things thrown around social media is the idea that we all live with 24 hours of possibility in each day.

“I have 24hrs a day just the same as you, so why aren’t you a millionaire” – Jerk on Twitter.

Try telling that to a single mother or a person looking after an old/sick relative. These people have ironclad commitments above and beyond the average person. The idea that we are measuring success from the same starting point, even in the same sports league is ridiculous.

The Reality

Everybody has an personal store of free time that they can use, from minimum to maximum efficiency. Some lucky people have 100+ hours free time a week, others might only have 5-10.

Even the self-employed will need to do a certain amount of basic economic activity just to stay still. Not every hour of a solo business is spent on growth. Maintaining your capabilities and client base is often going to be a full time job.

Staying ‘on the Grind’ is about succeeding in your environment, against your challenges, it’s not a universal standard.

Why ‘Staying on the Grind’ is Sometimes BS

Before anybody sends angry emails and picture of their Porches, let me state that this is one of my all time favorite phrases. I love that fact that the core of ‘being on the grind’ means doing something with determination and rhythm over and extended period of time.

As a phrase it is damn near perfect for inspiring people to reach their goals and maintain focus . The problem is the fact that many people don’t understand a certain aspect of ‘the grind’.

Any machine that grinds, overheats and fails if you use it too much. It produces no valuable output unless it’s applied correctly and in the right amounts at the right time.

If you sink 40 hours a week into your business only to get the same return as your competitors that put in 20, you aren’t grinding a goddamn thing. You’re actually being both inefficient and heading straight for burnout.

You are only ‘On the Grind’ if you are in a productive rhythm.

The Importance of Rhythm

If you’re maintaining focus and work ethic, there’s no problem posting a selfie on Instagram pretending to take business calls. Just remember to actually carry out the business away from the camera.

The first step in establishing our rhythm is to understand the math behind our days. Yes, sorry, this one’s going to take a bit of math…

The important things

Time Demands of The Average Day

The average day is pretty much a myth at this point. Our lives vary so much even within our towns and cities that we can’t really talk about a one size fits all timetable. That being said, our time is normally split into free time and work. Here at BearMoney we believe that there are another two categories of time: Requirements and Commitments.

Requirements are all of things you need to do to function in society and stay alive but that you aren’t paid for. It is definitely hard work, but it takes place during your free time.

Commitments are things you are bound to do for free, but not for your own benefit. These include looking after children, visiting relatives/neighbors, even walking a dog (although if you don’t walk it good luck with the chewed sofa!).

We’re going to take a look at these commitments first because, although sleep is the most important thing, you’re probably going to forgo sleep to meet your commitments at some point.

Time Available: 24 Hours


In an ideal world we could all devote the entirety of our non working lives to the pursuit of our personal/financial goals. But the majority of us don’t live in an ideal world. Responsibilities toward other people are a fact of life and whether it’s a weekly dinner, raising a child, or even caring for a pet, these things eat up hours.

Some people will tell you that many of these you can sacrifice to free up some time. BearMoney doesn’t advocate for this. If you bought a dog, and can afford the dog, you owe it to the animal to feed, walk, and take care of it.

Likewise, there’s nothing entrepreneurial about neglecting your family and their needs in order to stay on the grind.

You have to be honest with yourself about the things in your life that will require ongoing commitment and always put them first. It can be a balancing act but for sure the most sustainable path to both personal and professional growth is to meet your commitments. You shouldn’t neglect the things that truly matter: family and friends.

Although these things can be difficult to calculate, you should be able to get a rough estimate over a period of about two weeks for average daily commitments. Hopefully it leaves you with a bit of time to play with.

Time Left: 24 Hours – Average Daily Commitments*

*assumed zero in this article


In terms of the individual, sleep is the most important factor in maintaining a long term grind. Without enough sleep you are certain to experience burn out as well as likely to develop some form of health problem.

In today’s world it is often quite difficult to get enough sleep when we feel that we don’t have enough time to do what we want. The fact that we have our smartphones and Netflix in our hands doesn’t help matters either.

Even without looking at TikTok until 1AM there are many other factors that can affect the quality of your sleep. The temperature, brightness, noise level, even the quality of your bedding can lead to you losing precious amounts of sleep. An hour a day might not sound like much but it can add up over time to make you much less efficient.

So how much sleep do you need to function properly? If you’re between 18 and 65 you’re going to want between 7 and 9 hours per night. Ideally, you will be able to create an environment that will give you all you need with just the 7 hours.

It is definitely possible to train yourself to get enough sleep in less time than this. Also, your needs may vary, but whether you can rock out on 4 hours or you need 10 hours, 7 seems like a workable average amount of time

Time Left: 24Hours – 7 Hours = 17 Hours


Just like sleep, without enough food, you’re going to die. Now, BearMoney has already covered the importance of smart food choices here, but it would be good to remember a few key takeaways (no pun intended);

-Eat enough food to maintain a healthy weight

-Eat the right food to feed your body the required nutrients

– Avoid harmful additives and substances in your food

How you deal with food can range from a purely functional approach to a very involved hobby. Irrespective of this, to eat healthy food on an optimal schedule (about four times a day) you’re going to have to invest time in both preparation and eating.

Obviously this is going to vary wildly from person to person. Cooking can be a solid free time hobby as well as a social thing. A solid baseline for this over the course of the average day is probably 30 minutes per meal (no microwave dinners allowed!). This means that generally between all your meals, snacks, and coffee you’re probably using up about 2 hours a day.

Time Left: 17Hours – 2 Hours = 15 Hours


Some of us are super lucky to either work from home or live close to our workplace. For the majority of us however, we’re stuck commuting. One of the biggest time sinks in all of our lives is large commutes.

Twice a day we can spend a significant amount of time getting to where the jobs are. The unfortunate reality for many is that it’s not financially possible to live close to areas of economic activity.

In addition to this, we’re probably going to have to account for traffic and delays over the course of your typical day. Again, given that this has a variance it’s best to pull together a fair average. In the United States the average is approximately 27 minutes each way for a total of 54 minutes. We’ll round this up to an even hour.

Time Left: 15Hours – 1 Hour = 14 Hours


We all have some errands to run each day. Maybe it’s something small like grocery shopping or a big time-eater like taking the car in for a tune-up. Whatever it is, there’s going to be things you need to do to maintain your ability to live and work.

Everybody needs food and shelter, the vast majority of us have to work for that. In order to keep our refrigerator full and our rent paid, we have to make sure that everything is kept running smoothly.

We have to using banking to buy food, carry out repairs/maintenance on our homes/vehicles, purchase transit tickets, clothing etc etc. These things will always eat up time. Luckily, nowadays, we can do many errands online but not everything is as simple as ordering Uber Eats.

Overall then, an estimate of time spent can vary wildly. However in terms of dividing down into a daily figure, 90 minutes a day doesn’t seem too high. 10.5 hours a week to clean your house, buy groceries and so on seems like a decent guess.

Time Left: 14Hours – 1.5 Hours = 12.5 Hours


Depending on your status as an introvert or extrovert, and several other factors, your need for social interaction can change daily. Some people need to be around people for at least 3-4 hours a day while that many hours a week is ideal for others.

Most of us fall somewhere in a moderate area where we ‘draw energy’ from both ourselves and our environment under different conditions. In fact, most of us are actually ‘ambiverts’, meaning that we flip-flop between extroversion and introversion. So it’s safe to say that the ‘normal’ person needs some social interaction daily but not a huge amount.

In another article we talked about the importance of budgeting for social spending even when money is tight. Here at BearMoney we definitely believe that the balanced approach to life requires a significant amount of social activity.

Overall then, we’re going to be a little controversial and give a high daily number for social time. In this we’re also including your group chats, social media, and electronic communication. So the combined estimate of time spent socializing with colleagues, friends, and family is about 1.5 hours daily.

Time Left: 12 Hours – 1.5 Hours = 11 Hours


We all need to get some exercise to stay fit and healthy. Some of us will have jobs that keep us moving or using our muscles daily but a lot of us are going to be stuck in office chairs or vehicles.

Even if you are working on a construction site, chances are there’s some form of exercise that would improve your overall life. If you’re taking a balanced approach to fitness, you’re going to investing at least a few hours a week between a couple of exercise sessions.

We should all be averaging around 40 minutes of exercise a day just to stay in decent shape. So for the benefit of staying as fit as necessary we’re going to call this one 45 minutes.

Time Left: 12 Hours – 0.75 Hours = 10.25 Hours


Most of us have to work for a living. Nowadays we’re also likely to be putting in a lot of unpaid overtime. Definitely the idea of the 8 hour work day is mostly a fantasy in North America.

However, it seems like a fairly solid estimate to take for our purposes. When combined with our commitments and obligations such as raising our families, this work is comfortably a majority of our day.

Time Left: 10.25 Hours – 8 Hours = 2.25 Hours

Unwind Time

Wow, look at that, we’ve somehow managed to erode the entire 24 hours without doing anything lazy or unproductive. Right now we’re sitting at 2.25 hours of time left in our day. The vast majority of it has likely not been particularly relaxing or enjoyable.

For both our mental and physical health we’re going to need to take some time out to relax. We’re also going to need to do this daily. Maybe we want to watch an episode of Tiger King while eating Ben & Jerry’s, whatever it is, it’s good for us to waste some time.

We’re going to be strict here and only allot one hour to unwind at the end of the day. A lot of people are going to need more time to recharge their batteries from day to day, but given that some people come home from work straight into obligations, we’re going to average about a single hour a day over the course of the week.

Time Left: 2.5 Hours – 1 Hour = 1.5 Hours

So there we have it, on a normal day, we have 1.5 hours of time that we can leverage to grow personally and professionally. That’s 1/16th of what our friend on Twitter told us we had to work with.

We’ll take a generous leap and say that we won’t have to do a lot of housework on the weekend. So, we’re going to be left with around 12 hours from the weekend and 7.5 hours over a normal work week.

So the average grind time in our week is 19.5 Hours. That is what we really have to work with before we try to leverage our commitments. It’s still a substantial amount of time. However, it’s also a clear sign not to compare yourself to people who have more time that you. It’s a sign to recognize that success is an individually defined measure.

Staying on the grind

Grind Time: Establishing A Healthy Hustle

So what can we do to increase the time available for us to chase our dreams? There are three primary solutions. Firstly we can leverage our work, second we can optimize our free time, and third we can trade money for time. All three can be easier said than done, but they’re the best way to solve our vanishing time problem.


A big part of increasing the time available for you to reach your goals is to try to engage in work that increases the skills and experience that you need to succeed. This means finding opportunities in your daily job that effectively allow you to practice the personal/business skills you’re applying outside of work.

For example, if you work in an office setting, think about new projects. Jumping on an opportunity to work on some financial or bookkeeping project could give you many hours of experience for dealing with the money area of your side business.

Not everybody is fortunate enough however to work in an environment that gives them easy access to transferable skills. You might work in the service industry but want to carry out a technical side-hustle like app development.

Despite this you can still learn interpersonal skills useful for the processes of your own business or personal growth plans. It’s not about working in the same industry in both areas of your life but more about leveraging what people are already paying you for.

A single new project at work, or routinely covering a different area for a colleague can give you several hours a week back. This is productive time that doesn’t require big changes. In fact, taking on new experiences in your work will usually lead you to better conditions/revenue in the future.

Find the hours where you can, and you’ll multiply your growth.

Unwind Time

This is an obvious one but also a dangerous one. Trading some of your unwind time for growth time can be tricky. You actually have to relax during your life to avoid burnout. Trading Netflix time for accounting practice is not really going to help 99% of people in the world relax.

However, given that our growth always contains both a social and a technical aspect it is definitely possible to find relaxation activities with transferable skills. For example, if you have a side business selling jewellery, any form of creative relaxation can transfer. Reading books about art can inspire you. If you’re an internet marketer, lying back listening to podcasts or audiobooks about successful people could do the same.

You can always find a relaxing activity that will give you transferable skills. It might take a bit more thinking than just watching TV but even watching TV could help you learn things.

If you take a wholesale approach to understanding growth, your growth time will naturally increase.

Buying Back Your Time

Above all the other strategies, buying back your time is both the most effective and most difficult to implement. In doing this you free up hours by sacrificing money that you have earned. Freeing up time in this way is something that only a minority of people can do.

The beauty of buying back time however is the increased productivity potential. It’s possible to spend $X on freeing up an hour of your time and use it to earn $2X. Even trading the money for some relaxation time can help your growth over time.

A perfect example of this is paying somebody to clean your home. Most of us would never dream of doing this. It either seems lazy or we were raised to clean up after ourselves and it seems weird. Consider the following though: You have an apartment that takes a professional 3 hours to clean. The cost for this is about $60. If you can earn $60 or increase your potential/enjoyment of life by $60 of value in three hours, you’re breaking even.

Take for example our jewellery designer from earlier. Can 3 hours of their labor create jewellery pieces to the value of $60? At some point yes, probably quite easily.

The same logic can be applied to many things, which is why online shopping is so popular these days. It costs maybe $10 extra to have your groceries dropped to your door. It’s a bigger expense but living closer to your job could save you a boatload of time.

If you buy smart, you can buy back time for yourself from everyone else.

Buying back your time

The End Goal: Time, Money, and Freedom

In the end, there’s really only two ways that combine to get a normal working person to  a place of personal and financial freedom, optimizing your daily life, and buying back your time. Both of these are easier said than done.

Firstly, for optimizing your life, you’re going to have engage in a significant amount of self-reflection. It will likely take an attitude change in a few areas of your life. You will have find ‘productive’ fun activities that suit your lifestyle and goals. You’ll also have to take chances on new experiences or changing the way you do things in your life. Luckily this isn’t particularly complex.

If you know what you want you can generally tell what gets your closer to your goals. You’re likely also to know what is holding you back. If you take your time and are smart about it you can make some pretty effective changes without much effort.

Your goal here is to make your environment give you free growth opportunities.

Buying back your time is much more straightforward. You’re going to have to earn or save enough money to convert it into time. In addition you’re going to have to identify where you can buy these hours back.

The most important aspect of this is to make sure that you don’t waste the time that you’ve bought back. There is no point in paying somebody to clean your house and then just sitting on Instagram for 3 hours.

Your goal here is to take every dollar you spend on buying back time and multiplying its return. In the long run you should be happier, healthier, or wealthier for having spent that money.

Really, that’s the sole goal of optimizing time, to be happy, to be healthy, and to get what you want. You may not have an unlimited amount of time, but it is the most valuable resource you have. Take control of it, and drive to your success.

Do you have any time saving tips? Share below in our comments.




2 Responses

  1. Time is such a valuable thing. I know I was thinking of time this morning. I need to spend time with my wife, my blog, with friends, doing work, and eating. Plus exercising takes up time, and there is also time for commutes. If time and energy was not a factor then of course we could hustle all the time, but having enough time to spend on everything without neglecting responsibilities is so hard. So we must prioritize. Great Article. It really makes you think.

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