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Monday, September 27, 2021

The forgotten resource

It is no secret that the planet is running out of resources, some faster than others. Many sources predict we will run out of fossil fuels within the next century. Global agriculture is producing more food than ever with less arable land, and still one in seven people are going hungry, a number said to increase as the population increases.

Besides the resources with monetary significance, we are losing things with biological value as well. The endangered species list for aquatic animals shows no signs of slowing its growth. In addition, more than 56,000 acres of rainforest are lost each year and hundreds of species are destroyed or put in danger. Due to the lack of knowledge about the deep sea and rainforest species, and how they may be able to benefit humanity, we may be losing so much more than we realize.

The global concerns for resources are not new, but there is one resource that people fail to recognize on a regular basis because it is so second-nature. A resource that we use every day and can never get back once we have used it. A resource that we can watch but never touch. That resource is time. As you read this, you are the youngest you will ever be for the rest of your life.

There are 525,600 minutes in a regular 365-day year. In the average year of a full-time college student, 183,456 minutes are spent sleeping, 139,776 minutes are spent working or doing educational activities (i.e. going to class and studying), 78,624 are spent doing leisure activities, 32,760 are spent traveling,  24,024 are spent eating and drinking, and 17,472 are spent grooming. About half of the time left over is spent performing other responsibilities — visiting our families, taking care of our pets, washing our cars, waiting in line at the post office, etc. The 24,048 minutes left are used for activities of personal interest. That bit of time we take for ourselves amounts to only 4.5 percent of our year.

Technology development has allowed people to cut corners and multitask. Dishwashers, laundry machines and the like free us from time-consuming tasks. The option to open multiple tabs while browsing online or doing computer work combines leisure time with time used for our jobs. DVRs allows you to fast-forward through commercials. Fast-food revolutionized the American lifestyle by allowing more time for leisure, work or responsibilities. While these are all great strides in the fight to maximize and utilize our time efficiently, a lot more time goes unnecessarily wasted.

When you wake up and press snooze several times for the five more minutes of sleep, that adds to about 10,000 wasted minutes every year.  That is seven full days a year that you will never get back.  When you check your Facebook several times a day for 10 minutes at a time, you spend 14,560 minutes a year on that one social networking site. If you have mobile internet, that number is probably much higher. Even simple things, like making a decision about where to get food for dinner or which cereal to buy add up to over 1,000 minutes.

By now you are probably telling yourself there is nothing you can do to cut back on how you spend your time. We are college students — some with jobs, most with a full load of units and all with daily responsibilities that must be done. True, there is no way to cut out school and work, but there is another way to get the most out of our free time.

It all starts with figuring out how you want to spend your day. Have a goal for the end of the day. Spend some more time on something other than the internet or television. Make a resolution to wake up on time from naps and when you sleep. Turn off your phone for ten minutes a day instead of checking in over and over again. Use the new extra time on yourself.

We often silently wish we had more time to do this or that, or to try that new hobby but we just got too busy. You have time to do those things, and invest in your happiness. Do what interests you and spend time on things you feel are invaluable. Do not wait and resign yourself to watching sand pass through the hourglass, because time is irreplaceable.

Many times, we find ourselves asking how we spent our day because it seems like it went by too quickly or that we hardly got any work done. Move through life, moment to moment, with a purpose, and you will find yourself asking that question less frequently. Hopefully after reading this, you can say that the few minutes you dedicated were worth it.

NICOLE NOGA can be reached at science@theaggie.org.

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