What matters most to you? Quick, without overthinking it, set a timer for 5 minutes. Write down the most important areas in your life?
How do you spend your time? Use this sheet* to account for how you spend your time in a day.
How does what you say matters align with what you do? This is a quick general estimate. For a more precise accounting, track your how you spend your time for a week with this sheet.* Ideally, pick a week that is typical of your normal weeks, not one with a wedding, graduation, or holiday. While it may seem daunting initially, once you get started, it is not that hard, and taking the time to make a “time audit” will save time in the long run.
Far too often, we do not spend our time the way we want to. Somehow our schedules are often filled with tasks that suck time away from the people and activities that we deem important.
Creating systems to help you spend time on what you value can be the difference between investing and wasting your time, between intentionally spending time with people you love or never having the time to catch up with an old friend, and between writing or reading that book or wishing you had the time to complete that novel.
Have you ever seen a friend at a store, had the 5 minute catch up and ended with
“We need to get together”? A few years ago, I lamented over not spending enough time with my friends. I created a system to rectify that. At the beginning of each month, I text several friends whom I have not seen in a while to set up a coffee, lunch, dinner, or walking date. Usually, I select three a month, although I have had as many as five depending on the month. This system has made a huge difference in reconnecting with friends who no longer move in the same circle.
For months, I walked 5-6 times a week without much hesitation. During this time, I listened to audiobooks, which enabled me to exceed my reading goals and remain active. While it is easy to do the right thing, it is just as easy not to. Earlier this year, I found myself hitting the snooze button instead of jumping up for my morning walk. As much as I wanted Derrick to join me, he really doesn’t enjoy walking like I do. Months passed and instead of maintaining any activity, I regressed. Then, while viewing a post in a local moms Facebook group, I found someone else in my neighborhood interested in walking my route at my preferred time! I stopped fighting the fact that during this phase in my life, I needed an accountability partner for my morning walks. For the past several weeks, I resumed walking three days a week.
I encourage you to take that hard look at how you are spending your time, then choose one
thing you want to “budget” time for weekly and one thing you want to make a monthly habit of. Think about how you can make it easier to do these things, or harder to forget or put them off. Enter them as appointments on your calendar. Find an accountability partner. Do whatever it takes to make the way you are spending your time better align with your true values. You will feel a sense of peace and satisfaction as you begin to prioritize the things that are truly important to you.
*Make a copy of the sheet and rename it. If you would like to participate in the blog, share the list with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.