Skip to content

I dissected the way I spend my time. Here’s how my priorities shifted afterwards

Do I really spend 05:15 hours on maintenance activities every day?

Dominik Nitsch
8 min read
I dissected the way I spend my time. Here’s how my priorities shifted afterwards
Photo by Content Pixie on Unsplash

Why the hell am I only sleeping 6.5 hours every night, I wondered. Where does all that time go?

Yeah, where does it actually go? I set out, and made an assessment. What do I actually do with my time?

First, let’s knock out the two big blocks most of us have in their life: sleep and work.

Sleep: 8:00 hours

Much has been written and researched about the importance of sleep. The gist: you should probably sleep more. It makes you smarter, healthier, and overall a better person.

I’m usually sleeping between 6 and 7 hours, but according to my WHOOP fitness tracker, I should get between 8:30 and 9:30 hours every night. While that’s a bit unrealistic, aiming for 8 hours is a solid goal.

Work: 8:00 hours

I aim to work 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. While I’m a strong believer that limiting your working time makes you a lot more productive, I still work 8 hours per day approximately — there’s just a lot of stuff that needs to get done.

For now, this is the situation, and I think this holds true for most of you.

This leaves us with 8 hours in a day. Essentially, another full workday. But I had no idea where all that time went.

This is how it broke down for me:

Photo by Anna Pelzer on Unsplash

Food consumption: 02:30 hours

“You gotta fuel the engine.” — Arnold Schwarzenegger

Sounds ridiculous, but I really do spend this much time every day preparing and consuming food. Breakfast takes around 30 minutes, lunch and dinner an hour each. I allocate one hour for lunch in order to have room to meet people — otherwise, my social life would fall short.

A few points on food:

  • It helps to cook in large batches. I usually make three portion: one for me (now), one for the fridge (tomorrow’s lunch) and one for the freezer (for when I don’t have my life under control and forget to cook).
  • I try to eat the same things over and over again to limit time allocated on decision making. For instance, I eat German cottage cheese (“Quark”) with berries, mango, banana, almonds and crunchy cereal every morning, and red lentils, veggies and halloumi cheese at least three times a week.
  • When you’re not eating with others, you can leverage your time while eating. For instance, while eating breakfast I watch videos from my online course; at other times, I dedicate the time I’m eating to Lacrosse film study.

This leaves us with 05:30 hours of unallocated time.

Morning routine: 01:15 hours

I have an extensive morning routine, during which I make my bed, read, do yoga, meditate, drink coffee and journal. This takes up a lot of time, but also ensures that I win the day before I even leave to go to the office.

I’ve fiddled with the routine a lot, and am currently very happy with what I have. It keeps me mentally and physically healthy, and many of my best ideas stem from my daily journaling sessions.

Evening routine: 00:45 hours

It’s hard to fall asleep right away. I like to wind down before turning off the lights, by brushing teeth and doing general hygiene things, preparing my outfit for the next day and then reading for 15–20 minutes.

Commute: 00:30 hours

My bike ride to the office is about 15 minutes one-way — the perfect duration in my opinion. I’m very fortunate to not have a longer commute, and I personally believe this is one of the biggest levers you can pull on your free time. If you commute 45 minutes one way every day, you lose so incredibly much time.

Riding my bike, regardless of the weather, wakes you up, is good cardiovascular exercise, and is another opportunity to listen to audiobooks or podcasts (but psst, don’t tell my mom).

Shower: 00:15 hours

For the sake of everyone around me, I shower every day. No further point to be made here.

Now, 02:45 hours are still left over. Mind you, this is the time you simply need for everyday “maintenance” activities.

02:45 hours of “actual free time” isn’t that much — but it’s enough to achieve more than you think.

As a passionate Lacrosse player, I have practice three times a week, and lift twice a week. This is a problem: the whole process of a Lacrosse practice takes around 03:15 hours, with packing your gear, going there, practicing, showering after and going back.

This means that on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, I have a 00:30 hour deficit in my day.

And now guess where I’m taking that time from?

That’s right. Sleep.

By design, on my practice days it’s physically impossible for me to sleep eight hours.


This was a breakthrough. I designed my days in a way that it wasn’t even possible for me to sleep enough. Therefore, I had to change the design: on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I cut the yoga part of my morning routine and go to the office a bit later, which allows me to sleep in.

I’ve also moved my two weekly gym sessions to Tuesday and Thursday evening instead of doing them in the morning in order to ensure I get enough sleep.

This was just the beginning of insights.

Photo by Zach Betten on Unsplash

But what about the weekend?

So far, I’ve omitted the weekend because it usually is less structured than my weekdays. Given my time constraints during the week (my gym sessions take 01:45 each time), I have one hour of accumulated free time during the whole workweek.

Think about that for a second. That’s essentially nothing.

And it means that I have zero margin for error during the week. By design, I can’t just go shopping because I forgot something at the grocery store. I can’t just take public transport, which takes roughly twice the time it takes me to bike.

So, on weekends, I need to make sure that everything is prepared for the week. Which leads to a very disciplined lifestyle:

  • I do laundry exclusively on weekends, the same is true for cleaning (although that’s mostly done by the cleaning lady).
  • I plan my food for the whole week and then shop all groceries for the week so I don’t have to go back to the store. Grocery shopping takes longer than you think.
  • Most of my social activities are on weekends; there’s not much time for that during the week.
  • And sometimes I just lay on the couch hungover. 😉

Side projects

Given that there is absolutely no free time during the week, all side projects have to be relegated to the weekend. My writing takes place exclusively on weekends. I prepare my keynote speeches on weekends. And anything else that comes up or that I want to work on has to happen on weekends too.

Knowing that, it’s easier for me to set realistic expectations regarding my side projects. Writing a new post every weekend simply won’t happen sometimes.

Weekend trips

… but this also means that I can’t really go on weekend trips anymore, as I need one day to simply maintain and prepare the week (although you can probably condense these activities into 3–4 hours).

That’s okay though. I’m very happy with my current lifestyle and it’s yielding good results: I’m improving massively as Lacrosse player and feel like I’m getting lots of good and important stuff done at work.

Sometimes you obviously want to go somewhere, but I try to limit it to every other weekend and am perfectly fine staying at home. Last time I was gone three weekends in a row, my life slowly drifted out of control.

Now I know at least why, and can act accordingly.

Your time is valuable.

It’s a shame to simply let it waste away. But it’s easy to do that if you’re not even aware of what you’re doing with your time.

I want you to go through the same process, with the following steps:

  1. Make an assessment of where you’re spending your time.
  2. Ask yourself: what’s important to me? After all, it’s your time, so you should decide what you’re spending it on. For me, this is Lacrosse and business; everything else must stay behind. I personally find it very difficult to focus on more than two things.
  3. Find leverages in your time usage. For example, you could listen to audiobooks while cooking, share more meals with friends, do meal prep, batch your grocery shopping, and probably loads of more things.
  4. Outsource activities. We have a cleaning lady (or cleaning … gentleman?), and I love it. I f***cking hate cleaning, it drives me insane, so I’m happy I don’t have to do it. And I could probably outsource more things, such as doing laundry, grocery shopping or preparing food.
  5. Lastly, find activities that you can simply cut.

Cutting the unnecessary fat

Do you really have to do all these things?

  • Do you really have to commute? Or could you save commuting time by doing home office once or twice a week? One tweak I’m using is that I do home office one day a week — this frees up 30 minutes that I can then allocate to things I otherwise wouldn’t have time for.
  • A friend of mine recently challenged the habit of showering every day. Do you really have to? Sure, if you do sports and sweat like a madman, yes. But otherwise — is it really necessary?
  • Maybe my morning routine is too long. By cutting off 30 minutes there, 02:30 hours would be freed up over the week. That’s not bad, actually. The only thing is — with that time, I’d probably meditate or journal anyway. Therefore, there’s no point.
  • I spend a lot of my time reading. But do you really have to? More and more of my literature consumption comes in form of audio, so I can do other things at the same time. Nick Wignall published a great article recently, arguing in favor of podcasts and against books.

Doing this exercise was very relieving. Not much changed, except for my awareness of how I spend my time. I realized that if I want to run a business and do sports at a competitive level, I can’t really do anything else.

And, holy shit, spending 05:15 hours on maintenance activities every day — would you have thought that? That’s an insane amount of time! 😄

Will my life always be that way? Hopefully not. I hope to have the financial freedom at some point in my life so I don’t have to work anymore. And at some point, I will stop doing competitive sports. I’m still in my athletic prime, but that is bound to change soon.

Life changes, and so do your priorities.

The only thing that doesn’t change is that you only have 24 hours in a day.

Use them wisely.

Thanks for reading! If you like what you read, feel free to subscribe to my newsletter. On a not-so-regular basis, I send out emails with cool stuff I’ve read or written, and other inspiring stories I come across. Subscribe here.

Aaaaaaaand last but not least, drop me a comment or a note to to say hi!

Related Posts

Members Public

4 Things You Can Do To Stay Replenished

“There are two types of wells: one is empty, and whenever some water goes into it, it’s directly emptied again. The other is full…

4 Things You Can Do To Stay Replenished
Members Public

Valuable Resources for Internationalization

Going international is tough — yet there’s very little literature on it. Here’s some good stuff.

Valuable Resources for Internationalization
Members Public

Just one more cookie won’t hurt … or will it?

Instant gratification isn’t worth it. Don’t let it distract you from focusing on the long term.

Just one more cookie won’t hurt … or will it?