Do you know how you're spending your time?
How often does it get to 6pm and you think, “where did today go?”, or you had an hour between clients and you’re not quite sure what happened to it?
Whether your relationship with time is one of lack (there’s never enough time to do all the things) or of abundance (there’s all the time in the world…yet still things don’t get done), it can be really useful to face it down. To see, nose-to-nose, exactly where you’re spending your time.
My suggestion for this week isn't for the faint-hearted - it takes discipline and commitment – but the insights you gain can be hugely beneficial if you’re able to stick with it for at least a few days.
I'd like to invite you to keep a time journal.
In an ideal world you’d keep your time journal for a week, but you may still be able to learn something from just a few days.
If you want to give it a go, here’s what you’re going to do:
Every hour, jot down what you’ve done with that last hour. Think back, recall as much as you can and write it down.
Be honest. You don’t need to show this to anyone so go into as much detail as you can.
By the end of the day, you’ll have created a detailed picture of how you’ve spent your time. After a few days, you’ll be able to spot patterns and to see where you might be able to make some changes.
Here’s the most important thing to remember: THIS IS NOT ABOUT SHAMING YOURSELF.
It’s about opening your eyes to what you’re doing. Turning off the auto-pilot and checking in with yourself so you can make conscious choices about how you want to be spending your time.
There’s nothing inherently bad or wrong about checking Facebook or Instagram.
There’s nothing inherently bad or wrong about watching TV in the middle of the day (please don’t take away my daily lunchtime date with Brooklyn 99).
But if you find you’ve spent ages on those things and no time at all on the important project you want to develop, perhaps something needs to change.
I’m very much against cramming every minute of the day full of GO, GO, GO and Hustle. I much prefer making space for what’s important. If that means swapping one hour of TV for an hour working on your Brilliant Business Idea, maybe you should give that a go (it’s amazing what you can get done in an hour).
Or if you look at everything you’ve done and think, “wow, it’s no wonder I’m exhausted”, maybe you could swap some social media scrolling for 15 minutes of sitting and staring out of the window with a cuppa to give your brain a break, or going for a walk around the block to get some fresh air in your lungs.
If you keep a time journal for a week, you may look back and realise that you didn’t allow yourself any fun. If that’s the case, what can you lose to replace with something that feels good? Maybe you turn your computer off half an hour earlier and prioritise a game of hide and seek with the kids.
Be warned: As well as the more obvious benefits, this process can also have other side effects:
- You may find yourself becoming more mindful, staying present with whatever you’re doing.
- You may find yourself feeling less distracted.
- You may find your focus improves.
- You may start to feel accountable in a way that encourages you to make good choices.
So, what do you think? Are you game? Let me know in the comments below.
This sort of thing can feel easier when someone else is playing along with you. If there's someone who could hold you accountable and would benefit from going through the process alongside you, do pass this on!
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