One of the “tools” that is suggested when you want to lose weight is to write down everything that you eat over a few days. The idea being that when you compare reality to what your perception was, you will have a clearer and more accurate view of how you can make meaningful changes in your food intake. A few less calories, a slightly better quality of food eaten and throw in some increased activity (maybe even exercise) and you can expect to lose weight.
The same “tool” can be used when looking to make better use of your time … whether at work or at home. If you feel that you are not “doing” all the things you would like to be doing, then you need to (a) find time in your schedule, (b) misplace some other activity or (c) forego the activity you would like to add. It is still a fact that there are only so many hours in a day and even the best of us can’t change that.
So … how does this work?
1. Make a list of the activities you would like to fit in. We will assume that this is outside of work. The list might include hobbies, health related activity, children’s activity, work around the home, shopping or whatever else you would like to do in your non-work hours. Oh ya … don’t forget the necessities sleep and meals!
2. Use a very simple priority system for these activities … it could be M for Must do items (like sleep and meals); H for highly desirable items (children’s activities etc.) You can more sophisticated later adding in how much time you need for these items, etc.
Note: Having done just this much, you have primed your subconscious to recognize when you are doing things that are not high on your priority list.
3. Now try to document how you actually spend your time for a week. Use 15 minute increments and capture how you spend your time.
Now you have all the ammunition you need to change some things in your life … IF it is important to do that. Equally important is that you may have justification for why you spend your time the way that you do.
Here are some further ideas:
1. If you would like another hour a week to spend on a favorite hobby … it could be anything. You can analyse your week and understand how to get that hour. Perhaps instead of grocery shopping every day you can get a bit more organized and shop twice a week, or instead of cleaning the house thoroughly every week you can get a maid, or just do the thorough job every two weeks.
2. If you want to build in an hour a day for exercise perhaps you can cut back on TV, or eat lunch at your desk or get your spouse to take on more household duties.
3. If you want to do a university course you can determine how many hours you need to find and work from there. Maybe you can choose to sleep one less hour a day … or give up an activity that is not as important to you as the university course.
Obviously this is not easy, but not much in life that is worthwhile is easy. The big question becomes what is most important to you … then you can make decisions, because you have the data to make the decision. If you don’t capture this data then you have your old perceptions and beliefs about your time, how busy you are and how you couldn’t possibly find time to go to your child’s soccer games!
I couldn’t let this entry pass without making the obvious comparison to time at work! The question then becomes what activity will bring the best return for the company? Same theory, same methodology … although I don’t expect you could get your spouse to take on some of the duties!