You have too much time on your hands.

I vote that the phrase, "you have too much time on your hands," should be done away with. Not banned, obviously, but let's collectively decide to ostracize people who say it, just because it is so obviously rude.

"You have too much time on your hands" is a very specific insult veiled as a humorous throwaway. It is something I've heard many times throughout my life, sometimes in response to things I actually did spend a lot of time on and care a lot about -- like this blog -- and sometimes in response to things I spent a relatively small amount of time on, but still enjoyed -- like a tiny puzzle I once made.

My friend Grant got a negative response from an awesome picture he drew on Snapchat yesterday and, upon my request, shared how he felt about it: 

When someone replied to a fun little Snapchat drawing I made with the phrase, "You have too much time on your hands," I felt offended. I am not easily offended.

It's funny because I tend to hear this in response to things that actually took very little time. This leads me to believe that these people might be jealous that I was able to produce something fun, exciting or otherwise interesting in such a short amount of time and that such a feat would have required much more effort and time on their part.

Was, "That looks awesome!" really too nice to say? Did you have to imply that I was only capable of making something cool because I don't have anything better to do or somehow have seemingly endless amounts of time? Furthermore, do you really believe that the apex of my day is drawing a stupid little cartoon in Snapchat? Is it unfathomable that although there are many other time-consuming things I could be doing, I chose to spend a few minutes making this drawing in order to achieve some sort of catharsis?

Amen, Grant. First and foremost, how I choose to spend my time has nothing to do with you. You don't know how long something took me to do, you don't know what I gave up in order to do it, and you definitely don't know how busy my life is in general.

"You have too much time on your hands" is a sneaky little way to take someone down a few pegs. I find it's often said because someone either doesn't like or doesn't understand the thing you're doing, and therefore can't understand your desire to spend time on it. Just because you would rather spend your spare time doing thing A doesn't mean someone is wasting time doing thing B. As long as the person is upholding all of their responsibilities (job, schoolwork, family, etc.), their downtime shouldn't really be of any concern to anyone else.

Here's the thing, and this is a guiding principle in my life: Everyone makes time for what they want to make time for. So if Grant wants to spend less than five minutes drawing a picture to send out to a bunch of his friends to make them smile, that's fine. Maybe he gave up five minutes of reading time, or maybe he drew the picture while waiting for water to boil. It doesn't matter, because as long as he fit it into his schedule, it doesn't affect you.

If I want to spend an hour and a half every night trying to get a little better at League of Legends, and you would rather watch reruns of CSI: Miami, that's fine. We're both doing things we want to do in the spare time we have. If I want to write a blog about people I hate and you think I'm devoting way too much time to it, it doesn't matter. It's my time I'm spending on it, not yours. That doesn't mean I have "too much time" on my hands. It means I've decided to spend my time on something you wouldn't spend your time on.

Now, just because you wouldn't give up five minutes of your time to draw that Snapchat picture or an hour and a half of your evening to play a video game doesn't mean you're any more busy than Grant or me. It just means you have different priorities. And that's totally okay. That's how life works.

But don't insult someone by implying that they have no responsibilities or that they're not as busy as you. You have no idea, and also, it's not a competition. 


  1. Thank you for writing this! How I hate that remark. It's belittling. Someone just left that remark on a facebook post I just made. I like to post silly little puns and clean jokes that everyone loves reading. Someone wrote that I have too much time and I thought "For what? The two seconds it cost me to post it?" Anyway, just wanted to thank you for calling these people out.

  2. haha, I have a t-shirt that says "I hate everyone" - got it when I saw "Little Miss Sunshine". It's yellow. Okay, I have too much time on my hands. Not. I'm looking for an image that represents the saying (I have to make an ATC).

  3. Absolutely.. Theres nothing worse than passive aggressive jibes designed to make you look small, and, when you make a fuss, stupid and over-sensitive and like you cant take a joke. It's been happening to most of us so often in our lives we barely even recognise the nastiness in it anymore and end up blaming ourselves for our short fuse..

  4. Thank you for writing this article, Kristin. I have actually shared it on Facebook many times as a reply to someone saying I have too much time on my hands, Ugh!! You summarized everything perfectly.

    And, just in case you are curious, here is the paragraph I have saved as a note on my phone for use when needed:

    Like most people, I don't think you realize how rude it actually is to tell someone they "have too much time on their hands." Isn't there always time for creativity? Here, read this---> http://tinyurl.com/q8zalzl

  5. Also this: https://www.facebook.com/notes/jake-cordova/you-have-too-much-time-on-your-hands/1917925098433118