Malcom Gladwell famously coined the concept that 10,000 hours of practice will make you an absolute expert at, well, anything. Want to be a scratch golfer, 10,000 hours. Concert violinist, pro-tennis player or stunt pilot then start the clock. By this measure, my procrastination skills should be taking me into the very top echelons of faff. But what about the time we’re spending obsessing about Love Island?
But if the morning office chat digesting last night’s Love Island news is making you long for the days of WFH, then here’s a thought, a real commitment to Love Island means around 125 hours of time devoted to brain-melting tedium. Don’t get me wrong, I got heavily invested in two seasons of Love Island, I think that I passed it off as being necessary for my job or some such half-truth, but really I was completely obsessed. Who was ‘doing bits’ with who, had so-and-s0 mugged off so-and-so and how could a doctor allow himself his skin get that shade of lobster?
But where has that invested time landed me? About as far as it got Jack and Dani’s relationship. And at least they launched successful influencer careers off the back of it. Other than way too much useless trivia about Wes and Megan, I have nothing to show for hours sunk into l’isle d’amour.
Cigarette breaks spent mindlessly dissecting the ersatz love-lives of a Warrington gym owner and a flight attendant from Romford
Which got me thinking. Think how much you could achieve with that time back. I could have learnt a language to a fairly proficient level if I’d ring-fenced that time for productivity.
Most seasons of Love Island are approximately 50 episodes long (the last two were 49). Each episode is an hour long (the first and final are normally a bit more).
But then you’ve also got to factor in After Sun, after the Sunday show, which will air at least eight times so we’re on 58 hours.
Of course, if you’re a real aficionado then you’ll want to listen to the daily Morning After podcast with Kem and Arielle Free. That’s another 50 half hour episodes. Which takes us to 83 hours.
Then there’s all the hours filled Insta-stalking the contestants, lunch and cigarette breaks spent mindlessly dissecting the ersatz love-lives of a Warrington gym owner and a flight attendant from Romford. If you’re doing Love Island properly you’re easily topping 100 hours per season. Or 12.5 work days…
So how else can you use that time?
Learn a language…
Ou est la piscine a La Rochelle? To be proficient in a language the CIA apparently reckon you need around 1,500 hours. But as you’re not planning to be infiltrated behind the Iron Curtain any time soon let’s assume you don’t need to be able to discuss the fog on the Volga with the dispassionate interest and local knowledge of a native. 100 hours will get you a long way.
In the time it takes your colleague to decide they’re going to have their lips filled and head to Sugar Hut in the hope of meeting a Love Island star you could be mastering the finer details of Mandarin.
Check out the courses at SOAS, their 10-lesson courses take less time than Love Island and will leave you ready to, er, relocate to Saudi Arabia?
Read the classics…
It was a decade after I passed my A-Level English exam that I actually read Pride & Prejudice, one of the key texts. Turns out you can blag it just fine by watching Colin Firth diving into a pond on repeat.
Turns out you can blag it just fine by watching Colin Firth diving into a pond on repeat...
But wouldn’t it be great to actually know the classics? To be able to drop them into conversation. I was at a dinner the other night and someone was going on about the The Brothers Karamazov and I blithely assumed it was a hedge fund for about seven minutes before it dawned on me they were talking about a Dostoevsky novel.
How neat would it be to while away your 100 hours in an arm chair, feet up and nose deep in the smell of long-unturned pages?
So how long would it take? Let’s start with the complete works of Charles Dickens. Not just Great Expectations, Hard Times and his 15 novels, but also his poetry, novellas like A Christmas Carol, his plays and various papers, it would take the average person 17 hours and 35 minutes to read the lot.
So says website How Long To Read. Which also means we’ve still got 82 and a half hours left. Okay, let’s whack in everything by Shakespeare.
Okay, let's whack in everything by Shakespeare...
A straight two days, one hour and nine minutes. We’ve still got 33 hours to fill…
11 hours would see you plough through all the major novels by Dostoevsky, and line up all the Jane Austens and you’ve got 22 hours filled and we’re left with just half an hour left of our 100 hour target.
Enough time to read every Roger Hargreaves Mr Men books cover-to-cover.
Learn to fly…
Learning to fly is famously about racking up the hours. But not as many hours as watching Love Island.
Gaining a private pilot’s license will require you to fulfil 45 hours of flying time, with 25 hours spent with an instructor and at least 10 hours supervised solo. Normally it takes more like 60 hours, but still far less than 100 hours goggling at poolside Insta-people.
Of course it’ll also set you back a small fortune, but you’ll arguably get to the end of the process with a more helpful skillset.
Walk to Paris and back
Paris, famously the city of Love, the Eiffel Tower, Hemmingway and Jim Morrison. And now the city of chaffing trousers. Yes, we’re walking to Paris while you rot your brain watching other people enjoy their holidays. And then we’re walking back, because it only takes 57 hours in total.
Or you could climb the tower’s 1,665 steps then decide to keep powering on (once you’ve descended) and hit the road to Brussels. All you’d need to do then is work out how you’ll use your 240 hours isolation on return…
Learn to drive… (a tank)
Are you putting off learning to drive? Is the pain of spending 45 hours (the average estimated by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency) sat next to a flatulent man called Clive as he intermittently taps the dashboard with his clipboard too much to bear?
Well power on through! Along with the 45 hours average tuition the normal driving instructee will take 20 hours of practice at home before they’re issued with their piece of pink cardboard. But why stop there?
There’s still 35 hours left. Enough time to learn to drive a bus, which should take an additional 25. And with the remaining 10?
You can only learn to drive a TANK!
Of course, you could do all that. But it’s not as though you can realistically fly your Cessna to the office, jump in your tank, Parisian Vogue in hand skidding to a stop by the water cooler to then make cogent arguments with colleagues about Sense & Sensibility in Cantoneese.
But you can swallow your intellectual pride (and if you’ve not read Hard Times, you probably shouldn’t have any in the first place) and just watch Love Island with everyone else and actually be a good friend and colleague and discuss new-girl Rachel and which guy she’s going to dump tonight. Will it be Brad or ‘Chuggs’?