The 24-hour day: It’s so yesterday


I hear people complaining all the time that there aren’t enough hours in the day. Between working, sleeping, paying e-bills, answering emails, texting, household chores, commuting, fixing the car and dealing with idiots, the 24 hours of the day whirl by and there’s no time to enjoy life, no time to relax with family and friends, no time to do the things we say we should do. You know: “We should go on a picnic”; “We should take a drive to the coast”; “We should have a poker night.” Things that never happen because there are simply not enough hours in the day.

Laura Vanderkam, in her book “168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think” (168 being the number of hours in the week), says there is no time crunch that a little more organization won’t fix. But I disagree.

I say why have just 24 hours in the day and 168 in a week? There’s no supreme ruling sent down from Zeus or Ra or Hammurabi or Moses or any of those guys that says we are limited to 24 hours. Just because the ancient Egyptians started sun-slicing the day into 24 portions about 3,400 years ago, and the Babylonians came up with the 60-minutes-per-hour thing, that’s no reason to stick with it. It’s not working anymore.


I propose the 30-hour day, the 210-hour week.

By cutting the normal 60-minute hour to 48 minutes, we could pick up an extra six hours. We could still stay with the same 1,440-minute day, but imagine what you could do with six extra hours in that day. You could easily get to the park and have that picnic. You could go bowling, if for some strange reason you wanted to. You could take a three-quarters-of-an-hour (36 minutes) nap and not feel guilty. The list of extra things you could do with six more hours in the day is almost endless.

Making the cut really wouldn’t be a problem. I mean how many times does anyone use the whole 60 minutes of an hour? Even “60 Minutes” doesn’t use 60 minutes. That show should be called “42 Minutes.”

If you get in 40 minutes of productive activity in a 60-minute hour, that’s good, really good. So by cutting an hour to 48 minutes, not only do we gain more hours, we also waste less time. And we still have a good eight minutes to loaf.

But wait, there’s more. How many times have we heard that eight hours of sleep is ideal. With my 48-minute hour, folks who now regularly get in only six hours of sleep would come close to that ideal, clocking 71/2 hours of slumber. One of the very few downsides of my plan is that those who currently manage a full eight hours would start sleeping 10 hours a day, and that is just plain lethargic. They’d have to sleep less or face being branded as lazybones.

“Honey, you’ve been sleeping for 10 hours.”

“Baby, it’s the same as the old eight.”

“It’s 10 now. Times have changed. Get outta bed.”

A variant of this plan has actually existed for centuries. The people who live in Greenland’s capital, Nuuk; in St. Petersburg, Russia; in Alaska, Scandinavia, Finland and parts of Canada have for years unofficially flirted with longer days, as the summer sun lingering over their lands provides the illusion of more hours. These places have mostly done OK, all things considered. (OK, maybe not St. Petersburg, formerly known as Leningrad.)

Yeah, yeah, I know my proposal would require some adjustments. Clocks for one thing; watches too. TV Guide would need major modification. Some track event records, such as marathon times, would have to be revamped. And the already fast New York Minute would become flat out Lamborghini-esque; I predict it could clock in at under six seconds.


So it takes a while to get all this going. Big deal. Look at it this way. Someone has to modify all those new clocks, watches and schedules. The 48-minute hour would not only give us more hours, it’d put thousands of us back to work.

There is one challenge that will be tough: figuring out what to say when someone asks us when we want to have lunch. It’s going to take some time getting used to saying “14 o’clock.” But we’ll do it. We’ll have all that extra time to practice.

Michael Krikorian is a former Los Angeles Times staff writer.