Where did the time go?

We all get 24 hours a day, but how often do we stop and ask ourselves where it all went? Sometimes it seems like we only did a few things, yet it took the whole day. We never even got to the important stuff we were supposed to do or really wanted to do. Perhaps we should take a second look at how we are using our time and evaluate how we might use it better to fit our own needs and wants.

Start by looking at your calendar or day timer. These are great tools that show what activities consume the larger parts of most of our days or which ones are unique to that day. They reflect how we spend time for things like work appointments, trips to the doctor, soccer games or volunteer shifts. But we do lots of things with our time besides what is listed on the calendar. In between these noted activities are things like personal care time, driving time, computer time, time to eat, and hopefully some time for sleep.

Next complete a time map (See our website for a time map). This tool helps give you a clear picture of how you are currently spending all your time, even those in between times. It is used to keep track of what you do during time increments. Keep the map with you during your day and simply record anything and everything you do. Be honest :-). In order to get a clear picture of your time use, it is best to record all your activities for 2 weeks. The attached map is in 30 minute increments, but you can create your own for the size time increment that work best for your lifestyle (1 hour, 15 minutes, etc.).

After you have recorded all your activities, color code the different activities you have listed. An example is to highlight all exercise time in green, food prep in orange, etc., until you have all activities accounted for. Once you have it color coded, you might be surprised to see how much time you spend on certain activities. Making a list of each of activity category and listing the total hours spent on them can also be telling.

Once you have your time usage in clear view on paper, it’s time to evaluate how it compares to your priorities. What are your goals or priorities in life right now? Remember that the things that were important to you last year may not be as important this year. Do you want to entertain regularly, play with your kids or grandkids, exercise more or just have time for reading? What would you really like to see included in your week? Perhaps you’d like to take dance lessons, get bills paid on time, or have time for baking.

Now look over the activities on your time map and ask yourself if these goals or priorities are well represented on your map. Are you using your 24 hours a day the way you want? If not, what activities are consuming your precious time but are not helping you reach your goals? Which ones could be eliminated so your valued activities will get a proper place in your week? Often we get in the habit of doing certain activities because we have always done them, but as life changes we need to revisit the things we do to try to align them with what is currently important to us. It may take effort to change what is included in your day, and it might take some time.

However, it will be well worth it to know you are using your time for things that are valuable to you.

They are your 24 hours. Be purposeful about the activities you put into them. Make your time reflect what is important in your life now, and you’ll find yourself enjoying each day a little bit more.
© 2019 Beth Giles

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