Reclaiming My Time With The 8–8–8 Method
and the task of finding answers to a curious question
I have a bad habit — my work life tends to melt into my actual life, which then bleeds into my sleep.
There are only 24 hours in the day and something has to go, right? You can’t have everything in life and something always has to sacrifice itself on the chopping block.
That’s the general college meme, except I never really properly figured out how to get out of that mentality.
The last time I took it too far, ended up with 13 hour workdays and burnout.
In the last few months, I’ve been acutely aware that my work-life balance is starting to run its own tilted schedule nowadays.
For my first 12 Habits in 12 Months Challenge, I’ve decided to trial out the 8–8–8 method.
Let’s be honest — work is a major part of our lives.
While work itself is not bad, our relationship and boundaries with work can be fuzzy at times. This fuzziness can lead to an over encroachment of time, where work weeds its way into the parts of our lives that we don’t protect enough.
With the rise of the hustle culture, there’s a growing expectation that if you’re not working on something, you’re not entrepreneurial enough or spending too much time doing junk things.
Maybe it’s just me and the content I consume, but that’s the general vibe I’m getting.
I don’t like it because it’s an unbalanced way of living.
Over the past few years, I’ve discovered that when you’re constantly generating outputs for someone else and not yourself, a part of your soul withers away.
Your personal life and sleep need watering as much as the necessary actions required to keep your day-to-day cost of living up to date.
I can’t remember where or when exactly I encountered the 8–8–8 idea, only that it’s been in my head for a while.
The idea is that there are three major facets to your day — work, life and sleep.
Each facet neatly divides into 8 hours out of the 24 hours that we have in each day. When one facet takes over the other, things start to become a bit unbalanced.
Recently, life is taking over the act of sleeping because work is taking away from life.
It’s a push and pull kind of situation that has the potential to spiral itself into something that’s unsustainable.
When you don’t get enough sleep, you can’t think clearly. When you can’t think clearly, you end up working longer. When you end up working longer, your life in general suffers.
So you try to make up for lost time by creating more unbalance.
At some point, something is going to take over completely and prevent you from becoming effective at your work so you can have the time needed to live life and get good sleep.
The 8–8–8 method is the active application of 8–hour allowances to each of the three facets.
While the theory of an actual 8-hour workday with 8 hours of actual leisure time seems nice to have, applying it will most likely be a bit harder.
How we spend our time is also partially determined by our environment. For example, our workday may actually be 8-hours on the dot but actually cuts into our leisure time because of commute. If it’s an hour each way, your actual work-related hours spent in 10 hours and not 8.
Before I attempt to implement this habit, I need to honestly answer the following questions:
- what are my actual current hour ratios?
- what and where are my time sinks?
- what can I do to change the composition of hours?
- how can I begin to implement these changes?
From past experiences, in order to properly change or improve on a habit, you need to properly understand and analyze how and why you ended up doing the things you’re doing.
The necessity of metrics
We’re all capable of making estimates.
However, our estimation skills vary depending on areas of expertise. Some of us are better and more accurate in our estimates than others.
When it comes to judging ourselves, our estimates tend to be a reflection on our perception of reality rather than reality itself. Perception and reality are two very different things, despite their occasional overlaps.
The ability to judge our situation against real data lets us establish a source of truth and reconfigure our perception of reality. This allows us to be more accurate with our judgments and make better decisions.
For the discovery phase of this challenge, I plan to use the free time tracking app Toggl. I currently use it to track client work hours — but I feel that this can be extended to other parts of my life to help me implement the 8–8–8 balance.
8 hours of sleep sounds like a good idea, along with 8 hours of leisure. In reality, it’ll probably play out a little bit differently.
Like most people, I suspect that social media and YouTube will play a role in the time sinkholes during my leisure hours.
But first, the metrics — because you can’t really make informed decisions about how to go about changing your habits when you’re not clear on what your actual current habits are.
Not truly knowing oneself is one of the reasons why people fail to establish long term habits in the past. To make long-lasting change for myself, I need to sit back and continue with business as usual, with one little addition — tracking where all the time is actually going and then go from there.