Making the Most of Your Time

“Let him who would enjoy a good future waste none of his present.” – Roger Babson

Week Twenty Five

This week’s questions will assist you in identifying places where you actually have time that you can transfer to other activities or use as a buffer. It begins by getting clear on the ways in which you have been using time. Like any limited resource, there are way to reduce usage by increasing efficiency and minimizing waste. One way to do this is to adopt practices that allow you to keep yourself mentally and physically sharp. This means less time will be lost though illness or poor energy levels. Another way is to use systems that allow for effective completion so that no more time than is necessary is spent on getting your tasks done.
Here, you will become better acquainted with how you currently use time. This will provide you with a base point from which you can identify what is required to reduce your time consumption. Perhaps you have never paid attention to where your time goes. Maybe you just go through items on your agenda without much thought as to how they fit together in time. People all over the world achieve great things with the same allotment of time available as you – 24 hours in a day, 168 hours in one week. You have the opportunity to make every second of your day count in a way that it has not before. What activities must be included for you to be satisfied with how your time is being spent? This exercise brings you perspective on whether the ways in which you spend your time are critically important to you, or if they follow from someone else’s agenda and are things you feel you ought to be doing.

1) Approximately how much time do you spend each week on work? This can be your paid job as well as unpaid household chores or voluntary activities. Include commuting time.

2) About how much time do you spend in an average week managing your finances? This can be anything from paying bills to meeting with your accountant to researching your insurance policies.

3) Estimate how much time you spend each week on your health and well-being? This is everything you do to take care of yourself from food to exercise, to down time and sleep. Include the time you spend on your hobbies, and any recreational activity that you do for fun or self-development.

4) Around how much time do you spend each week interacting with friends and family? This includes entertaining and chatting and any social activity you do together with your children, spouse and other people you know. (Note: If you spend time in recreation or on exercising that is also social, decide which the dominant factor is and only record the time once.)

5) How much time do you spend each week on organization? This includes planning, keeping your physical environment neat and clean, putting things away, and anything you do to be prepared and provide for a smooth outcome.

6) About how many hours a day do you spend on less productive or drifting activities like watching TV, gaming, social media, lying in bed etc? Sometimes there are hidden benefits in being unproductive such as recuperating, or just mentally escaping from the stress of life for a while. However, if this is the ultimate goal you might find more effective means of doing it. Decide how much of these activities are time wasting and how much have hidden value.

7) How many hours a day do you spend doing things that are not actually required, could be done less, frequently, or would better be done by someone else.

8) How much reserve or buffer time do you have allocated? This may take the form of breathing space between appointments or allocating extra time or actively incorporating periods of down time.

When you have amounts for all 8 areas add them up. Are you over or under your weekly allocation? Refine your estimates until you reach 168 hours total.
Think about what you have discovered
Taking the time to account for your time is informative. You might be surprised by how much or how little time you are spending in each area. Perhaps the way you spend your time does not match as well as you thought with what is important to you. This knowledge benefits you by providing feedback that you can use to better allocate your time resources. You will discover ways to modify your routine to use the same segment of time for multiple outcomes. Like any resource, there are ways you can reduce and reuse it. You can make your passage through time more efficient by eliminating activities that don’t serve you and grouping activities together so you do not have to retrace your steps or repeat yourself.
This exercise assists you in considering periods when you appear to be busy, but are just filling your time. It benefits you by developing an idea of what alternative uses of this time might look like that still provide you with downtime or a way to de-stress. You have also begun to consider the implications of having a time reserve and what you would gain from not living under continual time pressure.