I’ve had an incredibly hectic last three months. I feel fortunate to have had personal and business trips that were immensely satisfying. However I noticed that by the end, what seemed like fun initially was truly too much of a good thing. I noticed that the disciplined habits that worked for me had fallen by the wayside. One of those was my relationship to how I managed my time.
It’s a recurring theme with most of my clients as well. Many report struggling with “work-life” balance, that elusive, yet sought after state in which all seems to fit neatly into our overscheduled and over-committed lives.
Laura Vandercamp, author and speaker of a TED talk, said it best: “We don’t build the lives we want by saving time. We build the lives we want, and then time saves itself.”
“There are 168 hours in a week. Twenty-four times seven is 168 hours. That is a lot of time. If you are working a full-time job, so 40 hours a week, sleeping eight hours a night, so 56 hours a week — that leaves 72 hours for other things. That is a lot of time. You say you’re working 50 hours a week, maybe a main job and a side hustle. Well, that leaves 62 hours for other things. The real question is “what are you doing with that free time?” Look at the whole and plan what it is you desire.
Here are the strategies she offers for how to plan your time.
- You’re giving yourself a performance review, and it has been an absolutely amazing year for you professionally. What three to five things did you do that made it so amazing? So you can write next year’s performance review.
- Write a family holiday letter but don’t send it! What three to five things did you do that made it so amazing?
- Break down your goals above into doable steps and schedule them first. Laura says “we need to think through our weeks before we are in them.
- Friday afternoon is a good time to do this. Economists call this a “low opportunity cost” time.
- Make 3-category priority list: Career, Relationships, Self. Put 2-3 items in each. Then look out over the whole of next week and see where you can put them in.
Vandercamp urges us to note that “small moments can have great power. You can use your bits of time for bits of joy. Breaks at work can be used for meditating or praying. If family dinner is out because of your crazy work schedule, maybe family breakfast could be a good substitute.”
I’ve noticed that most of us are not intentional enough with our time. We need to make time serve what it is we truly desire. When we do so, we have enough time for what really matters, and feel joyful about what we are doing when we are doing it.