At times life can get away from me, I can get to the end of the day and not really know where the time has gone. The best way I have found to ground myself in spending my time on the things that are important to me, is to know how I spend my time. I began tracking how I typically spend the 168 hours in the week. I tracked everything. Where do I waste time not being productive? When do I veg-out in front of the TV or computer? How much time is taken by life stuff such as laundry, cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, etc.? How much time am I commuting and how much time am I spending working?
Next, I mapped my ideal 168 hours – a week with a good balance and that matches up with my happy dashboard. My first ah-ha: on paper, I could fit just about everything in that I want to and yet, I rarely manage to do all the things on my ideal 168-hour map. During the next couple of weeks, I looked for why, observing that I am slow to transition between things. Second ah-ha: I had not factored in enough time for life stuff — it was taking longer to do laundry, grocery shopping, cooking, etc. I lose more time than I like, to TV and Netflix. Armed with these new observations I revised my ideal time tracking and began being more mindful of the “lost” time between things, TV, and finding efficiencies in some of the life stuff.
My goal for the ideal 168 hours is not about matching the plan perfectly each week, it is about knowing what I would like to be spending my time on. When I am working more than I have allocated on my ideal 168-hour map, I ask myself if I was procrastinating, being too much of a perfectionist, or did the week just need more of my time allocated to work? There are also things I don’t need to do each week that make the ideal 168-hour list imperfect, such as taking my car in for an oil change this week. So, I have built in some “other stuff” time to account for the things that I spread out and do less than weekly.
Create your Happy Dashboard (resources below) and then use it as another data point for your 168 ideal hours. Are you spending time on the things that you say are important?
“Learn to enjoy every minute of your life. Be happy now. Don’t wait for something outside of yourself to make you happy in the future. Think how really precious is the time you have to spend, whether it’s at work or with your family. Every minute should be enjoyed and savored.” ~ Earl Nightingale