Do People Without Kids Waste Their Free Time?

Last Updated Jun 2, 2011 3:13 PM EDT

If you don't have kids, you don't have a time problem.

I have friends without kids and I want to wring their neck every time they say, "I'm so busy. I don't have enough time." You don't have enough time?! Are you kidding me? My theory, which seems to be much more popular with my friends that have children, is that people without kids are inefficient and don't fully value their free time.

Yes, I said it.

Unless you're a really bad parent, raising children requires an enormous investment of money and time. Your other 8 hours probably feel more like your other 8 minutes.

Common sense says that if you have children, you will not be as productive. There's no way you will be able to get as much done. That book you want to write? It will take a lot longer. Time for exercise? Limited. People without kids have so much more free time that it's almost unfathomable.

So if common sense is accurate, why aren't people without kids so much more successful and productive? Fortunately, they waste their time and are inefficient. Too harsh? I'm speaking from personal experience.

It's my daughter's birthday today. She's four years old. I discovered that I get as much done now as I did before she was born. How is that possible? It's because I'm a whole lot more efficient now.

I only have a fraction of the time to read, work, exercise, watch TV, etc. that I used to. Because of that, I do things faster and I've eliminated people and eliminated things that aren't important. My productivity has remained level but my efficiency has gone through the roof because of my daughter.

This becomes quite apparent every couple of months when my mother-in-law takes her for a couple of days. I get almost nothing done. I think I'm going to be able to use all of my free time to catch up on stuff but end up wasting most of it and doing very little. I fall back into bad habits.

The trick for you childless folks out there is to place more value on your free time. Of course, that's like telling Joey Chestnut to savor his next hot dog. When you have so much of something, it's hard to place much value on it. Here are a few tips:

  • Create a sense of urgency. If you think something is going to take two weeks, start on it a week before it's due. Force yourself to work more efficient by eliminating dead time.
  • Fill your day with more to do. It's obvious that the more you do the more productive you will be, but what's less obvious is the more you do the more efficient you will be. When you have a hundred things happening at once you can get in the zone and get more done more quickly.
  • Track your time. Don't think you waste your time? Track it for a day or a week. If you really want to get depressed, have a friend with a child track his time and compare the results.
If you don't have kids you have all the time in the world. Go forth and use it. Let me know what you do with it. In the meantime, I'll be at Disneyland...

(Hammock image by *Mickey's, CC 2.0)
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  • Robert Pagliarini On Twitter»

    Robert Pagliarini is obsessed with inspiring others to create and empowering them to live life to the fullest by radically changing the way they invest their time and energy. He is the founder of Richer Life, a community of passionate people who want to learn and achieve more in life and at work. He is a Certified Financial Planner and the president of Pacifica Wealth Advisors, a boutique wealth management firm serving sudden wealth recipients and affluent individuals. He has appeared as a financial expert on 20/20, Good Morning America, Dr. Phil, Dr. Drew's Lifechangers and many others.