Back in the day, it seemed like there was plenty of time, extra time. So much time in fact I was constantly bored and made sure everyone around me knew it. Of course I was 15 at the time and I had trouble making people understand that not enough of the known universe was revolving around me. Alas , then I became an adult, and more and more responsibilities were added. My waking hours became horribly stretched and I began to long for boredom. I began to realize that not only did the universe not revolve around me, I seemed to be exhausted from hurtling through it aimlessly, barely avoiding black holes and bumping my head on the random asteroid.
Then something amazing happened. I did my first 20 hour day on a film set. Then another and another. I did years of this. Film production is like that, hours and hours and hours of work to get a project done The lines between waking and sleeping become so blurred that your whole life seems to be overtaken by the work directly in front of you. But, it made me realize just how far you can push yourself and just how much you can get done when forced to focus.
Those days are long behind me now. I’ve had regular office hours for the last 15 years. I get an awful lot done in my day, but I often wonder how I can squeeze a little more time out of the 24 hour cycle. I want to be more efficient (don’t we all,) so I decided to break it down to see where I could find more time.
According to the Julian calendar, We all have the same amount of time to begin with. 168 hours per week to be exact. Lets break it down: Take the necessities off the top.
• 40 hours typically goes to working a job. Office work, work at home, work from home, primary parent, taking care of a domicile. If you are a parent of kids under the age of 16 add another 20.
• Add 8 hours of sleep per night, that’s 56 hours a week.
2 hours a day watching TV or reading, hobbies, 14 hours per week.
We’re up to 130.
• Time with your spouse out to dinner, movies, making love, fighting (yeah fighting counts), socializing with friends, average 7 hours per week.
• Exercise, 7 hours per week. We’re at 144.
Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner, 1.5 hours a day, that’s 10.5 per week.
The total of all this is: 154 hours.
There are 14 hours left. The question is: What can you do with 14 hours? The answer is a lot. Are you busy already? Sure you are, I know I am, but until I did the math, I didn’t realize that I have been wasting more than a full work day a week on…. I don’t know what.
These numbers will vary wildly from person to person. You have to sit down and add up your own time, but I guarantee that you will find as I did, that you have at least 14 extra hours of time per week to be moving your life forward in the direction YOU CHOOSE.
Here’s the great part. I gave you a stereotypical average of how the hours break down. These are not how YOUR hours break down. My kids are grown, so I spend a lot less time parenting. You may not have kids at home. You may not have a significant other right now. You may sleep 12 hours a day. That’s bad for you by the way, take a minimum of 3 hours off that and go to the gym for an hour, then use the rest to work on your actual dream life.
Being aware of your time is the first step. There’s no doubt that time management is hard. Personally, it’s my biggest challenge. I like the freedom of a “loose schedule,” but I know it doesn’t serve me well. For me, having a loose schedule is an invitation to putter about. An avoidance of the hard work of managing my life and pursuing the activities that will help me reach my goals and dreams.
There’s only one way to conquer it. Plan your time on a daily schedule. Especially hard if you’re a freelancer, but, that’s why a daily, not a weekly appraisal and schedule becomes necessary. It certainly can be done. A good amount of success is measured on your capacity to get things done. How much can you handle in a given amount of time.
You have to find the answer for your life. What I’ve tried to accomplish here, is to point out the amount of time we all have in common, and that there really may be extra time in your life that you didn’t know was there. Here’s my challenge to you this week: Sit down and write down how you spend your 168 hours a week in broad terms. Then refine it against your goals. Then, for one week, take ten minutes every morning and plan your day accordingly.
If you are not spending enough of that weekly time on working towards the goals and future you imagine you will see it in your daily schedule. You will also see ways to adjust.. I like zoning out in front of the TV as much as the next guy and often do it for too long, but I know that I can spend that time more productively. When I have a schedule, I better know when it’s time for leisure and time for work.
If nothing else, do this exercise for fun, just to see how you are spending your time. Once you have done that, perhaps you can redraw the 168 hours into a life that you feel suits you better. I’m not just talking about goals here either. Do you spend TOO MUCH time working? Do your kids, spouse, friends need more of you? Think about it. Nobody on their death bed ever said “I should have spent more time at the office.”
We are creatures of habit. I think we all agree, some of those habits really don’t serve us well. This exercise will help you find some of those negative habits and redirect them into positive habits.
“Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of.