There are 168 hours in every week (7 days * 24 hours). Even if you get a full night’s sleep (8 hours * 7 days = 56 hours), there are 112 waking hours in the week (168 – 56). These hours can be used any way you want them to be. Even if you work hard, say, 60 hours a week, there are 52 hours left over (112 – 60). And many may have more time if they sleep less or work less.
If you have a business you want to get off the ground in addition to working full time, if you want to spend more quality time with your family, if you want to read more, or if you just want more control over the time you do have, you need to get a firm grasp of where your time goes.
I Have All the Time in the World
I did an interesting experiment a little while back. At the time, I was feeling quite overwhelmed with the various priorities that demanded my time and attention. There were a lot of things that I wanted to do in a given day, but the days were slipping by without my having accomplished any of them. I found myself saying that I just simply “did not have time” to do all of these things.
I decided to track how much time I was spending in different areas of my life for one month. I did this tracking “law firm style,” meaning that I literally timed what I did every day for a month in six minute increments. If I spent one hour on a given activity, I recorded a 1.0 in my timesheet. If I spent only six minutes on something, I recorded a .1.
After the month was over, I looked back over my records and learned some very interesting things. I have a lot more time than I realized! I was spending too much of it doing worthless tasks.
I truly believe that most of us do not really have a good grasp of where our time goes each day. We have goals and ambitions and desire deep down to accomplish them, but we let them slip away, planning to do them tomorrow. The truth is, we probably have enough time today, but are waiting for some sort of perfect moment to begin.
I have approached each day with a totally different perspective after having completed this time experiment. I am more careful with the precious time that I do have. I get more things done each day and I feel more relaxed at the same time because I have eliminated so much wasted energy from the day.
Step by Step Guide to the Time Crunch
1. Commit to the Process for 30 Days. This is important. From the very outset, you have to clearly commit to track your time for a full month. The reason for this is simple. It gives you a more representative sample of where your time is going overall. If you only tracked it for a day or even a week, a really busy day will distort your results.
2. Accurately Record Your Time. I recommend recording your time in small increments so you can really see where your time is going. If you watch TV for 10 minutes 10 times a day, that is a large part of your day that we want to reveal as part of this experiment. I like six minute increments because it seems like I do everything for at least that long. 10 minute increments work fine too. I used an Excel Spreadsheet and plugged in my numbers after I completed each activity of the day.
3. Be Honest. Don’t let the temptation to exaggerate your numbers get the best of you. We want to know exactly where your time is going.
4. Make Sure you Have a Complete Daily Record. Don’t fall behind. If you do, you will never get through the month. It is too difficult to try to recreate your activities days later.
5. Review at the End of Each Week. At the end of the week, look at where your time went. I was blown away with how much time I spent on things that were not really important to me. Even after working hard in law school, working on my other businesses, and spending time with family, there ended up being a lot of time left over!
6. Review at the End of the Month. Finally, look at the month’s results and see where your time went. Then, break this down into percentages. You will get a clear idea of where your energy is going.
Take Your Time Back
After doing this experiment, you will have a better idea of where your time is going. Take control of the time you have. I like to think of my time in life as a book where I only want to record the things that are most important to me. We do not want to look back on our lives in 10 years and say that we “sure surfed the Internet for a long time” or “got to see a lot of television.”
I am certainly not saying that those things don’t have value. Everyone needs relaxation. But, if our relaxation and vegging time is eating away from other more important parts of our life, it is probably time to make a change.
Today, right now, this very moment, use your time in the way you want.