OK friends it’s time to address our time audits. I hope you’ve been keeping track of how you have been spending you time over the last week.
Were there any surprises?
I have to say for me, not really. I know where I “waste” time and what some of my issues are but it was good to write them down nonetheless.
Getting out time to match up with your values can be tricky. There are things we have to do whether we want to or not. Maybe you don’t LOVE your job right now but you do have to keep going to get a paycheck. Maybe, you’re in a difficult season with a relationship. Maybe you’re still just trying to figure out what you want to be about so you’re still not sure how you should be spending your time. I get it.
I’m not going to tell you what to do except to say this; to some degree you ARE the boss of your time.
I say to some degree because there are things out of our control. For example, I had great plans of getting all kinds of things done yesterday but instead had to rearrange my plans to care for a sick child.
I couldn’t control that my little guy got sick but I did have some control over my response and since relationships are of high priority to me, I moved some things around so I could be available to watch Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood and play a few rounds of Go Fish with him.
I think most of us can identify in our time audits which things are the very important and important. Even there though there may be certain activities or commitments we may need to let go of in order to create some space for the unexpected; sick child, lost keys, traffic, etc.
What I’d like to address is the “worthless/distracting or numbing” activities.
I’m guilty of it too.
Here’s the thing though; it’s hurting our true sense of worth. I’m not saying don’t take a few minutes to catch up on Facebook or watch the latest episode of Parenthood. (I’m definitely not saying that)
But how often do we go to bed thinking that we spend way too much time in our day on things that don’t matter, vowing that tomorrow will go differently. That we’ll “play” with our kids more, that we’ll make time to talk to our spouse and connect, that we’ll really spend time on that work project that we’ve been putting off, that we’ll finally tackle that darned garage.
But time and time again we fall back into old patterns of numbing and distraction. Feeling like there’s just TOO much to do, I can’t deal with it all so I’m just going to sit and watch 4 hours of Gilmore Girls on Netflix or watch random YouTube videos OR whatever your thing is.
You guys, we’ve established our values and priorities. Living a life of meaning is staying true to them and keeping our time in line with them. There’s just no way around that.
I love this quote by Viktor Frankl, neurologist, psychiatrist AND holocaust survivor. He spent much of his life studying meaning and came up with a prescription for how to find it ourselves and it involves being distracted by worthy pursuits.
When a person can’t find a deep sense of meaning, they distract themselves with pleasure. -Viktor Frankl
And I love what Donald Miller wrote about how Frankl’s work affected his life:
“After reading Frankl’s thoughts, I began to structure my life differently. I woke up every day and identified a few projects that needed my attention and made a to-do list for each. I realized that if I gave myself enough time to “think about life” I only got depressed, but if I actually started working I was too distracted to get depressed. In other words, I realized we weren’t meant to sit around and stare at our belly buttons. We were supposed to be distracted with a worthy pursuit.”
What are the “worthy pursuits” in your life that you can shift some of your “distraction” time onto? Perhaps they are projects or activities that are more consistent with your values.
As we seek to have a reset, we must consider that it may be time to let go of some of the numbing/worthless pursuits we’ve engaged in and shift our time to be more aligned with activities that bring meaning to our lives.
A few other tips to consider as we reclaim our time:
- Rethink multi-tasking: I don’t know about you but the idea of multi-tasking is great, however in practice I have realized that I actually get MORE done when I’m able to give projects my undivided attention. Thinking that I can teach my kids, while getting some work done and checking email and writing a blog post might sound doable but in reality takes longer than the sum of focusing on each task individually so perhaps consider whether one thing at a time would work best for you.
- Consolidate: I find it helpful to take care of similar things on the same day. Schedule one day for errands, shopping, post office trips, etc. rather than trying to spread them out throughout the week or whenever you can squeeze them in. That way if a new errand comes up you can add it to the existing tasks on your agenda for “errand day”.
- Delegate: I heard a great message once about how there are certain things only I can do (be a mom to my kids, wife to my husband, honor God with my own unique gifts, etc.), there are certain things I’m called to do and should do myself (homeschool, work, etc.) and there are some things I can delegate (meals, help with cleaning the house, etc.). Perhaps there are things in your own life that you have taken on that could in fact be delegated to someone else.
- Wake up earlier/stay up later: I’m not a morning person but sometimes I need to find extra time somewhere. Perhaps similarly you are in need of just a few extra hours and there’s really no where to get them from because your schedule is already full. It may become necessary to reclaim your early mornings or nights in order to accomplish projects or tasks that need tending to.
Tomorrow we’ll talk about adjusting our attention. And if you need to get caught up, click here to see all of the series posts so far.