A message from ASCE Texas Section President Travis N. Attanasio PE, CFM

August 2023

Work to live or live to work? So what’s left?

I was speaking with an intern from Texas, who is entering their senior year at my Alma Mater, the Colorado School of Mines. With such a large span of time between the intern’s senior year and when I graduated, one would expect nothing to be the same—except strangely it was. While times have advanced with electronics, computer based testing, cloud computing and the like, I was surprised to hear that Calculus II and Physics II are still the hardest classes!

It is natural for humans to notice the passing of time and the changes that come along with it. As you age, you start to perceive life from a different perspective. One may find that the once seemingly insignificant moments now hold profound meaning, and the events that we thought would be the most memorable, lose the fine details. The perception of time also changes.

One time, my 10-year-old niece was begrudging to me how long a year takes to get through, with school being so long and summer being so short, and my response was, just wait once you get older, time will magically accelerate and you will be looking at a year thinking, “wasn’t it just Memorial Day last month, but it’s already August!!” Kids being quick-witted nowadays, she looked at me and said, “that’s because I’m only 10% through my life and you’re 40% through yours. Haven’t you noticed that your phone battery takes longer to charge when it’s at a small percentage?”

First, I enjoyed the compliment that she thought I was going to live to 100—some days my 40ish age body wants to give up, but it did make me think. If we only get 1% of life per year, what are we going to do with that one percent? Let’s break it down:

365.25 days per year = 8,766 hours
Average sleep time for Americans is 7.3 hours (yeah right) = 2,666 hours
Average time eating or drinking is 1.2 hours = 440 hours
Average time spent in the restroom is 30 minutes = 183 hours

In total, you’ve already allotted 38% of your year to basic human needs.

With the basics out of the way, now we all have to work, right? Work to live or live to work?

260 working days per year (2023) @ 8 hours per day = 2,080 hours
Average commute time in Texas is 26.4 minutes one-way = 229 hours

There another 26% of your year accounted for.

What’s left? A little under 3,156 hours that are yours to enjoy. Oh wait….if we’re working everyday (sick and vacation time excluded) then we have to catch up on things over the weekend, so there’s another 1,548 hours of life otherwise occupied per year. So now what is left? 1,608 hours, or 4.4 hours per day. Sheesh! Gives a whole new meaning to the phase, “so much to do, so little time”.


Travis N. Attanasio PE, CFM, M.ASCE
2023 ASCE Texas Section President