Time well spent

This time of year, life is all about graphs and pie charts and tracking income and expenses. My single contribution to helping my husband with our taxes is providing him with annual totals for medical charges and charitable donations.

Not to worry, I don’t do the math. I bring up my handy-dandy financial software, hover my mouse over “reports,” and print. It’s exhausting.

My computer program keeps track of every single nickel we make and every single dollar we spend. Then, it divides everything into categories and presents the end result in the format I choose: line graphs, pie charts, or numerical totals.

My new phone does the same thing—kind of. If I turn on the “tracking” option, it measures the amount of time I look at my screen per day.

And that’s not all.

The thing breaks down how I use my phone: productivity, creativity, and social networking. It reports the exact number of minutes I spend sending messages, using my camera, and checking specific apps.

In case I don’t understand the—sometimes shocking—end-of-day or weekly numbers, I’m also provided with a colorful line graph.

All these methods of measurement made my mind wander, which is scary—scarier than the amount of time I log on my phone. It got me thinking about what I do with my seconds, minutes, and hours.

And then I started wondering if—after I’ve inhaled my last bit of oxygen—the first stop before heaven is a room where I meet an angel who holds a laser pointer in his hand.

“How was your trip, Genevieve?” asks the angel. “I have diagramed your life on a pie chart. Let’s take a look, shall we?”

“You can call me Genny,” I say.

“Up here, we go with given names,” says the angel.

I’m not certain I would enjoy watching the story of my life unfold via a pie chart. It would probably show that I played the first ten years of my life. I don’t regret it.

According to experts, if I live 75 years, I will have slept 20-25 of them and spent seven more just trying to get to sleep. By the time I attend my 80thbirthday party, I will have waited in line five years.

The authorities on time don’t cover how waiting time is calculated if one uses her phone to read or work while she waits. In that case, part of the five years waiting in line is surely credited to the 13 years one spends working and the 11 years she looked at screens.

I really hope my life on a pie chart does not show an 11-hour slice to screen time. That’s more than eating (6 years) and vacation time (3 years) and romance (just over a year).

If the numbers are correct, we’ve really got to decrease screen time and boost romance. At 80, according to the experts, we’ve spent more time on the toilet (13 months) than we did kissing another person (two weeks).

Now, that is the literal definition of the word “travesty.”

I don’t know if the laser-toting angel will laugh or cry or both when he reviews my life pie chart. I can see him now, pointing his blue light at specific slices.

“You spent four years doing housework, Genevieve, which, I suppose, is a selfless act for your family. We will also give you credit for spending more than the average 1.5 years on exercise. But your drivetime far exceeded the 4.3-year norm.”

“But I listened to audiobooks and podcasts—good ones,” I interject. “Surely I get positive credit for those?”

“Hmmm,” says the angel. “I’ll check into it.”

“And volunteer work for church and charities?” I ask.

“Well,” says the angel, “You were allotted 8760 hours a year, let’s hope you did something positive.”


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