Where does my time go?

The next question that we are exploring in our quest for self awareness and growth is this: Where does my time go?

It is such a cliché to say that we live in a world that is on 24/7 and that we 'don't have time'. We have more labour saving devices than ever before and less (perceived) time than any previous generation.

The truth is that time is the great equalizer. All of us have exactly the same amount every day. How we spend those moments, however, will greatly determine our quality of life now and later.

Also, how we spend our time says a lot about who we are and what we value. We may verbalize some values that we 'should' have but our clock and our calendar tell us the truth about what we value by the actions we take during the moments in our day.

A great way to become more mindful of how we spend our time is to keep a time log. I learnt this concept from time management expert Laura Vanderkam in her book 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think.

Vanderkam suggests that we track our time for a set period in 30 minute intervals. After tracking this for a few days, we then categorize the activities (for example, work, health, family, recreation, screen time, TV, eating etc.) The categories are personal and tailored to what makes sense to you.

This is such a valuable exercise and I highly recommended it. When I did this for the first time a few years ago it really exposed the lies I was telling myself about how much time I was spending doing what I told myself I was doing.

(I used a pen and paper to do this and I tracked my time in 15 minute intervals instead of 30 minutes for a week because I find I tend to waste many moments rather than hours and they really do add up.)

Ultimately the time log helped me become more mindful of how I was spending my time and readjust my schedule so that I was spending more time doing things that mattered in the long run and were aligned with my highest values.

Vanderkam uses the example of a woman whose water heater broke during the week when she was tracking her time, and it took her seven hours to deal with it. Most of us would say we don't have seven hours during the week to spare, but when we have water all over the basement floor, or another such emergency, we somehow manage to find the seven hours.

Can we treat what is really important to us like a broken water heater and give it the time that it needs?

That's the big question.

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