Creating time

Hello friends! I know it's a little (ok, very) off-topic, but I just want to say, "Happy birthday to my kind and lovely and hard-working daughter, Eilonwy!"

Looking back

Last week, we discussed the necessity of reading. Virtually every time I talk to people about reading, their biggest complaint is, "I don't have time to read!" 

On my About page, I mentioned Jon Acuff's book Start: Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average, Do Work that Matters. I have to say, this book changed the way I looked at work. Then, I read his book Quitter (linked below). Ok, technically I read them out of order because Quitter came first. Either way, though, I have to tell you - If you want to know how to create time out of nowhere, Jon's your guy. He's also quite helpful if you think you hate your job.

Deceptive time

Time is our most valuable resource, and it seems to be the most difficult to manage. In our culture, we never seem to have time for what we really want in life. In the past 20 years, I've noticed a big shift: We often greet each other with, "How are you?" or "Howya doin'?" The most common response I used to hear was, "I'm fine." Nowadays, I usually get, "Busy but OK," or "Tired." We hear it on the news and from the pulpit - "Busy" is seen as a badge of honor, and "Tired" is its consequence (and thus also a badge of honor).

If you are in such a conversation, dig deeper. Does the person who says, "Tired" then talk about binge-watching a whole season of their favorite Netflix show the night before? Does the person who says, "Busy" have a favorite video game or social media site they read? 

Wait, don't run away!!

I am not here to demonize television or video games or social media! I have favorite shows and games and sites, just like everybody else. But if you really want to scavenge time for self-improvement, think about how you've been spending your time. We tend to spend more time on things we don't value because they're things that don't feel like time is passing. I've been known to get immersed in a TV show or a game, and suddenly realize an hour has gone by in what feels like 15 minutes.

Five steps to finding time

1) Keep a time journal

Many business consultants and speakers recommend keeping a time journal for at least a week - a whole seven days - to see where our time goes. Yes, I know that keeping a time journal seems time-consuming, but if you take the couple of seconds here and there to jot down what you've been up to, it'll pay off in minutes and hours later. Good investment, no? I've used a lot of journals over the years, but my favorite is made by Tools4Wisdom.

2) Analyze your time journal

What time do you get up? When do you go to bed? What do you do during lunch? What do you "do in your free time?" I know you may not think you have free time, but almost everybody does something to unwind.

3) Think through your priorities

The reason this critical step is third instead of first is that I want you to understand where you're spending your time now without being biased by your priorities. If you selected priorities before keeping your journal, you'd try to sneak in priority activities, and you'd never see where your time was going before you identified them. Now, though, think about how much time your priority activities should take. How much time should you be spending on the floor playing with your kids? How much time should you spend sleeping? (By the way, don't under-estimate the power of good sleep. Your time is used SO much more effectively when you're well-rested.)

4) Make the swap

Journal

Start small. Take out a half-hour of social media time to spend focused on your spouse or significant other or kids or mom. Take 15 minutes away from your water-cooler chats at work, and read a journal article in your field. Take 5 minutes away from Clash Royale and do some jumping jacks or stretching.

5) Practice seeing time differently

"They" say that it takes 21 days to cultivate a habit. In my experience, habits must be renewed continually, not just for 21 days. But maybe I'm more stubborn than most people. As you start scavenging time from the little windows in your life, practice being intentional about that time. That is, start viewing time as something you use on purpose. In a conversation with a friend the other day, she said she "never does anything for herself." I asked her, "Do you ever close your eyes, take a deep breath, and go to your happy place? Do you ever have a sip of wine and really taste it?" Every moment, you're using time for something. Make sure that you're aware of what that something is. And it must include time spent on you and your goals.

Come back next Wednesday, when we'll discuss how to wedge reading time into all the time you found here.

Photo credits: Amazon.com