Have you ever felt like finding time was akin to playing hide and seek? The time being hidden, and you – you are the person frantically scurrying around attempting to find it.
Time is one of those things that seems to slip away without notice. BUT when it is gone we do notice, often with a multitude of regret that we let it get away.
The key to finding time is careful, honest analysis of the current time allocations in your life followed by a soul-searching scrutinization of your values and priorities.
What are some of the biggest “time suckers” today? I will list a few (please feel free to add to this list by commenting on this post).
1. Internet (And specifically: Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, etc.).
2. Television (or various forms of video-based media watching).
4. Snacking (often combined with television viewing).
5. Procrastination (I am often amazed at how many people can stare blankly at a computer screen for hours because they do not know what to say and are afraid to get started).
None of the above are, in and of themselves, bad activities. They only become bad when they infringe on the time that should be devoted to alternate activities.
Who and what are you neglecting when you are hooked on the internet or television???
1. Your children.
3. Work productivity.
4. Physical exercise and health.
5. Your partner.
6. Your parents.
It has been very hard for me to come to the conclusion that I cannot fit everything I want into every day. It was also hard for me to prioritize activities. I had no choice, there was not enough time. I love to knit – LOVE to knit, but I also really needed to start exercising again. With a limited amount of down time between work and bed (after kids are fed, lunches packed, dinner made, etc.) I had no choice but to give up one activity for another. I gave up my hour of nightly knitting for an hour of exercising. (Yes, I DID try to do them simultaneously, but unfortunately that did not work out well for me!) There was a bit of a trade-off. I set up my stationary bicycle near my television – this allows me to have free moments of mind-wasting television coupled with my devoted exercise time. I pass the time with a funny sit-com while simultaneously improving my health. This is also good for me because I need something to distract me from the exercise itself! I exercise because it is healthy, but that does not mean I always enjoy it!
How can you analyze your time and make changes that are better for you? Do you have any idea how many hours you lose each day?
1. Make a chart for the day. Divide the chart into half hour blocks. Write down everything you do throughout the day. Repeat this for 3-5 days.
2. Analyze the chart – are there patterns? Notice what takes the most of your time and what takes the least. Are your children getting a majority of your time and attention, or is it being funneled to Facebook?
3. MAKE CHANGES. As you analyze your priorities, give yourself permission to adjust your schedule and attempt to create a daily routine that is more in line with your personal life goals and priorities.
4. Constantly Re-evaluate. In order to truly keep watch of your precious time, you must constantly re-evaluate and re-analyze where your time is going. I would recommend repeating this process 2-4 times a year (if you have the time to!!!) This will allow you to really keep track of your shifting priorities over time.
As the years go by our priorities and time allocations towards certain activities change. Not long ago there was no Facebook, and now it is one of the single largest time guzzlers in the world. Also, as your life changes, your ability to be flexible with your time may change. A new baby or even a toddler requires a tremendous amount of time with hands-on parenting. As children get older they are more independent and when they are capable of bathing themselves, cleaning their own rooms, etc., it allows you to divert that time elsewhere.
If you are honest with yourself you can work to gain back the many hours you are losing. When you find the time, drop me a note and let me know how it is working out for you.
At 372 days until 40 I remind myself once again that time is one of the most valuable resources I have and I must guard it carefully.