3 Things I Waste Time & Money On

I am a big fan of efficiency.

There are not many waking moments of my life that go by without me questioning what I have accomplished during a certain period of time whether it’s 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or an hour.

I don’t like the idea of seeing a minute pass by without not knowing what I’m doing.

That said, I have gone through phases where I seriously questioned my life purposes and felt frustrated when I didn’t know what I was doing with my life.

It was before I dropped out of a PhD program when I was totally lost about my long-term vision or before I started my blog when I felt like I spent too much time watching YouTube videos and window shopping.

I felt like a lost soul searching for a purpose in life.

Despite my obsession with productivity and a sense of restlessness, there are certain things that take me too much time to do and thus cost me a lot of money in the long run.

They might seem to be mundane routines that can go unnoticed.

But when I add up the time I spend on them, it can  translate into a serious loss of efficiency and money.

Both my parents and Mr. FAF have been telling urging me to speed up in the three areas below.

And I’ve tried to do it with little to no success.

1. Shower

Ever since I can remember, my shower time has ranged from 30-45 minutes. I don’t know why it takes me so long to my get myself cleaned. But every step of the process makes perfect sense to me.

When I was in middle school, it used to take me 45 minutes to shower and do other shower-related activities (i.e. blow-drying my hair). I showered every day whether it was hot or freezing cold outside.

My parents were really upset about this time sink and wanted me to hurry up (i.e. 15 minutes) so that I would have more time to study.

My aunt once asked me if I washed every strand of my hair and if that was the reason why it took me so long. I had no idea how to respond, but the question of “Why is that?” also bothered me.

I even took a clock to the bathroom and timed myself. It wasn’t a successful attempt, and I gave up after a while. My parents also gave up on imploring me after a couple of years.

At least I tried.

Fast forward 20 years later, I have made great progress through years of practice. My shower time is now shortened to 30 minutes, and I just can’t seem to make it any shorter.

It feels so nice and refreshing to jump into a hot shower after a long day and wash off all the dirt, stress, and worries. My relaxing evening won’t start until I’m done with my evening shower and change into my comfortable pajamas. I can then hang out with Mr. FAF and Baby FAF and smell the freshness of their shampoo and new clothes as well.

Let’s assume my shower over the past 20 years is 30 minutes. During this time, I spent:

20 years * 365 days * 0.5 hour/day = 3,650 hours in a shower.

If I had reduced my shower time to 15 minutes, I could have saved:

3,650 hours/2 = 1,825 hours.

That’s not to mention all the water I could have saved with shorter showers.

I’ve come to terms with the fact that it takes me a long time to clean myself. I don’t really think about it too much unless I notice’s Mr. FAF’s 2-minute shower, which makes me really jealous sometimes.

He’s usually done with his shower before I finish blow-drying my hair. I blame it on my longer hair, but deep down I know it’s not the main problem.

The key issue is that I create so many steps in the process and want to follow all of them to feel good about myself and my life. Is it ok to think of long showers as “me time”? It would make me feel less guilty if it is.

Related: “If It’s Yellow, Let It Mellow” – Is it worth it?

2. Eating

I am a slow eater. When I was on a diet, I was thrilled to finish my meals in less than 15 minutes because I ate so little. However, now it usually takes me 30 minutes to finish lunch or dinner.

When I was living with my parents, they gave me a hard time about this as well. It used to take me 40 minutes to finish eating. They wanted me to cut it by half (20 minutes) and spend time doing something more useful with my life rather than just sitting there and chewing/swallowing food.

I also got frustrated with how slowly I ate and timed myself on multiple occasions. What I soon realized was that I would soon get hungry because I didn’t eat enough in order to reduce my meal time.

Needless to say, I had to spend more time filling up my stomach, which took longer because I had to heat up the food and do the dishes. That operation didn’t go so well either.

With practice, I’ve reduced my meal time to 20-30 minutes. But I have to admit that when we have lots of dishes at dinner, I can spend 40 minutes to an hour chowing down on the food without even looking at the clock.

Mr. FAF, on the other hand, takes 5 minutes to finish his meal. I don’t know if it’s because he chews faster or has a faster digestive system or both. But I just can’t keep up with him.

Let’s assume that it takes me an hour to eat 3 meals a day. On average, I spend 365 hours a year eating. If I can cut that time by half (15 minutes per meal instead of 30 minutes), I will have 182.5 hours to do something else.

If I get $30/hour, 182.5 hours will translate into $5,475/year. As I make more per year, the amount of money I could make with such extra time will also increase.

Related: Why We Eat Out While In Debt

3. Doing the dishes

I’ve heard about and seen one of the greatest intentions of mankind: a dishwasher. However, at the FAF household, we wash the dishes by hand, and I am usually the one in charge of that task.

It can take me anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes each time, including the time I spend cleaning up the kitchen and dining table. I don’t use the dishwasher for three reasons.

First, I know some studies point out that using the dishwasher can save more water and thus money than doing the dishes by hand. However, research has also pointed to the opposite: doing dishes by hand saves more water, doesn’t use electricity, and is more environmentally friendly than using a dishwasher.

As for us, our parents have never owned or used a dishwasher in their lives and are not keen on using technology for something they can easily manage.

The idea of having a machine running constantly for two hours on electricity and using an unknown amount of water doesn’t appeal to me. It might not make financial sense, but our whole family does dishes by hand out of habit.

Second, we usually have more dishes than what we can fit into the dishwasher. That means that I would need to do about half of the dishes (i.e. hug pots, woks, plates) by hand. I think it’ll just be easier if I do everything by hand and reserve the dishwasher as our drying racks for small items like plates, bowls, chopsticks, and spoons.

Third, even if I use the dishwasher, I still have to rinse the leftover food from the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher, which can take 5-10 minutes. Instead of just rinsing them with clean water, I can use that time to wash the plates with soup instead. They will then just need to quick rinse.

Maybe one day, I will just get tired of doing dishes by hand and want to catch up with the modern life eased by technology. Sometimes I feel so conflicted about my decision. I don’t want to spend so much time doing the dishes. But at the same time, I want to save money and do what I’m comfortable with: washing the dishes by hand.

Any minute that I spend doing housework is a minute I can’t spend with my family or on my blog. However, I have to admit that after I do the dishes, I do feel relieved that I have completed one of the most boring and time-consuming chores of the day.

Related: 6 Ways To Cut Your Utility Bills Today

Conclusion

Taking a shower, eating, and doing the dishes seem to be such mundane activities that all of us need to do every day. Some of us can be efficient and finish them in a couple of minutes.

Some, like me, can take forever to finish such routines. And some might allocate just the right amount of time that helps them feel relaxed showering, enjoying a meal with family and friends, and getting their rest that they need.

Such activities can be fun and enjoyable. But when we spend too much time on something, whether it’s household chores, personal care, or our jobs, it might lead to inefficiency and dissatisfaction.

The three activities above are what I enjoy doing but also struggle with every day to do faster.

Related:

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19 thoughts on “3 Things I Waste Time & Money On”

  • So much wasted water! 🙁 But you make up for it with the If It’s Yellow Let It Mellow rule?! 🙂

    As for eating – don’t sweat it. Eating slower is better for you and you’re less likely to overeat. I eat waay too fast these days it seems and I’ve been trying to make a conscious effort to slow down.

  • Some showers actually do make me happier. You see, I have this little water proof bluetooth speaker that allows me to sing/karoake my favorite songs during my shower (my girlfriend says it doesn’t bother her…).

    I can easily shower for 20 minutes straight without actually doing anything but singing like a superstar. 🙂

    • Haha I used to sing in the shower too and really annoyed my roommate. I stopped that habit a long time ago. But it’s a totally different story if your singing is good I guess 😉

  • I take a bath every single day because I feel like it is more productive to read a book in the bath than to take a shower while you can’t really do anything.

    I guess you can listen to a podcast while taking a shower?

    A few weeks ago, I didn’t do anything at all in the bath. I turned off the lights and kind of took a nap in there. It was really refreshing and I woke up to a couple of ideas that I had never thought of. It was kind of like meditating. You know those sensory deprivation pods that are super expensive? It was kind of like that except I wasn’t floating. But it was super nice and I wouldn’t give it up for anything to save time.

    Sometimes your happiness is just more important :).

  • I don’t like to use a dishwasher except for company meals, for the same reasons you mentioned. You have to rinse everything anyhow, so it’s sensible to just wash them by hand and get it over with. I can’t believe the studies that say using a dishwasher uses less water. The people participating in the study must have some strange hand dish washing method that uses a lot of water. I always procrastinate about taking a shower–I don’t like to get all wet. I know it’s necessary, but I dread it every day.

  • I thought I was the only one still doing dishes by hand! And in our household…I’m in charge of dishes. My parents never had a dishwasher when we were growing up so we hand washed them. When I got married and rented a small NYC apartment, the kitchen was tiny so we used it for storage plus 2 people don’t rack up that many dishes. Now with 2 kids, in a slightly bigger place that still doesn’t have a dishwasher I contemplated getting one. But it doesn’t take too much time if you don’t let it pile up. Also, crazy as it sounds, washing dishes is strangely relaxing…it doesn’t take any mental effort and no one is there to bother me!

  • Boo bah bleh. For once I don’t think I share those things! My showers are 10 minutes if I don’t condition. I guess you can double that for leg shaving but being Asian totally saves that need heh heh heh.

    I eat under 20 minutes. A full meal with a dessert, I gobble it down like nothing.

    Grace is out dishwasher…helper. =_= don’t judge me…

  • I agree with Dave. Don’t sweat the slow eating. It’s better for digestion to eat slower and it gives your brain time to catch up and recognize when you’re full.

    I remember when I was around 5 years old I loved doing dishes. My mom put a little step stool by the sink so I could help. I think I liked the feeling of the warm water on my hands. I still find it therapeutic sometimes.

  • Even as a single person, I always used the dishwasher. I’ve lived in my fair share of dishwasher-less apartments, and doing dishes by hand while standing just makes me tired. If you use rinse-aid liquid (there’s a special slot in the dishwasher for this), you don’t need to rinse the food off beforehand. I’ve had pretty good success with this, although there will just occasionally be a coffee stain still stuck on. Also, I read somewhere that the longer the dishwasher time, the more water-efficient it is (not sure I understand this, but I think it has to do with running more washing cycles with less water per cycle).

  • I wish I can eat for that long because it helps you to chew and digest slowly and feel full longer. I usually don’t have the patience to chew my food slowly and can finish eating in 10 minutes or less. My mother-in-law said that those who eat fast has a hard life. ☹️ I think it’s just one of those old Vietnamese sayings.

  • OMG, I can’t even imagine a 30-minute shower!!! I regularly take 3-minute showers. I accomplish this several ways, but the first step is having a clock in the bathroom and keeping an eye on it while I shower. The next is to stay focused while in the shower, you’re in there to clean your body, stay on task. The third is to multitask in the shower. For example, while you’re rinsing your hair under the shower, you can be soaping up your body. While you’re rinsing your face, you can be putting conditioner in your hair, etc. Give these tips a try and see if you can shave some time off of your shower!

  • My showers are usually five minutes unless it’s a cold day in which I stay in there a bit longer so I have to delay myself from getting cold.
    As for eating, being a slow eater is better for you anyway so I wouldn’t worry about it. I’m a fast eater and I tried to slow my eating a few times with no luck. I might try it again since you reminded me now.
    For washing the dishes, washing it by hand is fine unless you have a whole bunch of them from hosting a party or a huge gathering of people. That’s when you should use the dishwasher.

  • Sometimes we need some time to slow down and take it all in.

    Life’s been a huge rush so far, it’s nice to have a change of pace for once. Today, I just sat on the couch, whilst the sun came in leisurely reading a book.

    Re Dishwasher: Hand washing things have always been the way in our household. It’s pretty quick and easy, even when I’ve been messing around with the newest French recipe that requires 10,000 pots, pans, and utensils!

    Re Eating: I don’t see why you would be annoyed for “taking too long” to enjoy your food. Although I’m a quick eater, I’m always the last still eating everything in sight. 😅

    We once stay eating hotpot till 2am on a cold, dark winter. Eating, drinking, and enjoy each others company. Safe to say, the staff got a big tip top. 😂

  • What? You wash things before putting them in the dishwasher? Unnecessary extra work! I try and keep things simple, only plate what I’m sure will be eaten. Then straight into the dishwasher, which uses less water than handwashing if it’s full.

    If I’m not washing my hair, I can do 3 minutes showers, but sometimes I enjoy mellowing for a bit! And I’ve also got a lovely bath that is even more fun to relax in.

  • I love long showers too – I also have a speaker that I listen to.
    I have been trying to keep it down to 3-4 songs :/ (so 12-15 mins) when I can lol.

    We use the dishwasher and the sink, sometimes things do need to be pre-washed because certain foods are tougher to get rid off – for example, my sister used the cheese grater to thinly slice some unripened plantain – the residue did not come off after the dishwasher cycle.

    My brother is a slow eater, and I’ve heard it’s better for your health to eat slowly 🙂 you can always multi-task when you eat! I’d say we all could use some tips on not wasting water – “we” as in those of us who enjoy long showers and waste water when we do dishes. Otherwise, eating slowly to me is a-ok! And it has worked for you thus far 🙂

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