A recent op-ed published in Quartz pointed out that most Americans spend an average of 608 hours a year on social media. I don't know where he got his numbers, but that comes out to 1 hour and 40 minutes a day, which feels about right.
The op-ed author suggested using that time to read 200 books, which is good advice as far as it goes. However, if the books you're reading are, say, trashy fiction or True Crime, you'd emerge from that experience little better off than when you started.
Here's a better suggestion: use that extra time to start your own business. Sound impossible? Well, consider: 608 hours is 76 eight hour workdays, which comes out to a little more than three months. And that's a perfectly reasonable amount of time to get a small business off the ground.
Of course, rather than focusing exclusively on your startup for three months, you'll be stretching those three months over the entire year. But that's an advantage rather than a problem because 1) it will seem more like hobby than a slog and 2) you'll still be making money at your day job.
To accomplish this, you set a series of milestones and estimated time required to achieve each milestone. You break that time into one hour and forty minute chunks. Then every time you feel like hitting up Facebook or Twitter, you work on your "hobbie" instead.
I might mention that this strategy also works if you're writing a book. Since most business books are 60,000 words, you only need to write 100 words a day. That's about the size of an average email, so if anything an hour and forty minutes a day is overkill.
But what if you can't kick social media? Not to worry. You can keep socializing online but instead give up television for a year. Or even just cut your viewing in half.
Look, the average American spends a whopping 1,642 hours a year watching television, which comes out to about five hours a day--more than enough time to start a business AND write a book. And earn an MBA while you're at it.
It's really up to you. You can spend 2020 the same way you spent 2019, and at the end of the year be pretty much where you are today.... or you could end 2020 as a CEO, or an author, or both! And all without denting your cash flow.
Does it work? Well, I've written all but one of my published books while I was employed full-time on other projects, just by deciding not to watch as much TV and to work a little on the book every day.
Furthermore, I recently gave up computer gaming (I was, frankly, a bit addicted) and committed that time to mastering computer animation, thereby fulfilling a lifelong dream of becoming a filmmaker.
I relate my experience not to impress you, but to impress upon you that you can and will accomplish great things if you substitute some of the time you spend being entertained for some action or activity you truly enjoy but that also moves you closer to your idea life.
You will be amazed at how much you can accomplish in a single year when you make just a tiny effort each and every day. Again, you will be amazed. I guarantee it. In fact, I am more certain about this than any other advice that I've ever given.