How long have you been…
© 21 October 2021 Luther Tychonievich
Licensed under Creative Commons: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0
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Estimated answers to questions I get asked from time to time.


I often get asked questions like “‍how long have you been X‍” and “‍how did you get so good at y‍”. The answer to the second question is the first question and its answer, but they’re not easy questions to answer. I don’t keep careful counts of how much time I spend on different tasks. But a little back-of-the-envelope calculation can get reasonable estimates. I’m rounding these: for example, I counted 10,100 hours of teaching but most of the numbers I’d guess were off by 10–20% so I report just 10,000 instead. Most of the other numbers have much higher error bars.

There are some things I’ve done a lot but I can’t estimate very well. For example, I’ve walked at least 20,000 hours, a umber arrived at by adding up the various foot commutes and other predictable walking patterns of my life. But I also talk long (multi-hour) walks for leisure, the length and frequency of which have varied too much for me to reliably estimate. I expect the true number of hours spent walking is at least twice that. Likewise, there are weeks when I read sun-up to sun-down and months when I read only a few minutes a day; I have no idea how those add up overall. I tried estimating number of books read but got no closer.

I’ve been teaching for about 10,000 hours. Roughly a third of that in formal classroom settings, two thirds in tutoring and one-on-one settings. Most of that time the topic has been computing, but about 1,200 was religion, 600 mathematics, 300 pedagogy, and 200 equity. I currently add 8 hours of classroom instruction and an hour or two of tutoring to these numbers each week, one of the lowest rates I’ve had in years.

I’ve game-mastered between 1,500 and 2,500 hours of role-playing games. I’ve played another 800 or so. The range on game-mastering is because I have two very different recollections of how much time I spent on this in my teen years and no reliable way to verify which is correct. About 80% of that time was playing Dungeons and Dragons, with the rest split between many systems, some published and some homebrew.

I’ve spent about 20,000 hours on church and religion. About 7,000 proselytizing, about 7,000 in personal gospel study, and about 6,000 attending worship services and other church meetings. I’ve also spent upwards of 4,000 hours in church-related (but not particularly religious) activity: about 800 hours in church choir practices, 1000 in leadership meetings, and somewhere between 2,000 and 5,000 in church-sponsored social activities.

I’ve spent about 3,000 hours in the shower and 6,000 cleaning house. I’ve driven for roughly 4,000 hours, most of that in-town.

Blog posts have high time variability, but probably average something over an hour each, meaning roughly 1,000 hours of writing blog posts.

I invested about 20,000 hours in college, most of that in study and homework. About a third of that time was spent writing code. I’ve also written more code since, averaging two months of full-time programming each summer plus an hour or so each day through the school year for roughly another 3,000 hours.

I’ve slept for roughly 100,000 hours and lived for about 350,000 hours That leaves about 150,000 hours unaccounted for by this post.

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