Want to find more time? Want to pursue new interests? Want to spend more time with your spouse/friends/kids? Want to focus on self care?
Everyone ALWAYS says they don't have time for ____.
I am here to call you out -
You absolutely have the time, you just don't prioritize it.
You can prove it to yourself - track your time for one week.
Track Your Time
Write it out on paper or use a spreadsheet. Mark the days of the week along the top. List out the time on the left side - by 30 minute intervals is best I have found. (8 columns by 49 rows, FYI)
You can choose to map out how you think your standard week goes and you will likely see some interesting pieces of time that you were not aware were there. A standard week would be how your time is typically spent right now.
You will likely find you have times of the day that are difficult to categorize. I suggest more broad categories, especially early on.
Here are my categories I generally use:
When you track your actual time, the more real time you update it, the more accurate it will be. Be honest with yourself. This is a tool to help you see how you actually spend your 24 hours a day. You will find when you are considering your time, you have gaps of time you cannot think of what you were doing - it is generally mindless screen time. We will get back to this momentarily.
Next is building out your Ideal Week. (I don't especially care what order you do this in, at the end of the day you will have an Ideal Week, a standard week if you want and tracked an actual week.)
Your Ideal Week takes into consideration all the commitments you currently have (namely a job, child transportation, etc), but I encourage you to really consider how much time you WANT to spend on all of those things. This is where you prioritize and get intentional with your time.
How much time do you want for yourself? Your kids? Your passions/hobbies? Your significant other?
We all get the same 168 hours of the week - how do YOU want to use YOUR time?
When I recently reviewed my Ideal Week, I realized I have three hours five days a week that I get to myself: 5:30am - 7:00am Monday through Friday and 9:00pm - 10:30pm every night besides Monday and Saturday. I had the opportunity to consider what do I want to do with that 15 hours of time and commit to being more intentional as I choose one activity over another.
Let's say you want to spend one hour every evening with your spouse. Between children bedtime and your normal sleep patterns, you may map it out and see that there is zero time. But maybe you realize that you marked down "sleep" on your standard schedule, but your tracked time is showing a gap between when the kids were asleep and you were actually asleep. This may be where you actually have been on your phone or reading or cleaning the house or checking back in on work.
How to be intentional about this situation?
What is your goal from this 60 minutes with your spouse? If you expect it to be watching television together, does that meet your objective of how you want to spend 60 minutes?
Can you get what you really want from this time in smaller increments elsewhere?
Consider if you actually want that 30 minutes to be self time to wind down for bed
If you find yourself cleaning during this time (this can't be just me?!) have a conversation and see if you and your spouse can commit to getting the house clean before child bedtime or discuss the balance of if one parent does bed time the other cleans
In my house, we aim to get the kitchen clean before either Dylan or I get to do any of our own activities in the evening. Nothing like coming down from kid bedtime to see a mess in the kitchen and your husband playing video games.
If a daily 60 minutes just doesn't work, can you find a better time? Find a consistent date night or get lunch together once a week.
Back to the phone/screen time. I recently had a person, over the course of a meal/gathering mention not having time for something and then also mention spending two hours on YouTube watching videos. We all do it at some point - I spent 45 minutes researching and finally buying a patio furniture set online on an evening that I am trying to commit to spending creatively. I realized afterwards that I was quite literally wasting my time and will do better this week! The point of tracking your time and really thinking about what you want with your time is to be aware when these moments happen.
Social media is one of these great phone time suckers, so look at settings that allow you to limit notifications or send you time reminders or set up quiet times. I fully turned off my "little red dot" notifications on Facebook so I am significantly less likely to click on it. Facebook has all these features to help you manage your time on their app.
Phone games are also a way we can waste our time. I have had a few I have played in the past, but over this last year I choose to stop because I was committing time and brain space to something that did not meet my goals for life or intentions with my time.
Do you think you will get the life you want by spending these hours each day on your phone?
How far apart is your ideal and actual time? What small (or big!) change can you make to get closer to what you want?
Remember life changes all the time. We are shifting into summer break in a week and that may disrupt this whole ideal schedule, but you now know what you want to spend more or less time on so be sure to actually schedule in that time you need.