It’s a new year, which means more people are going to the gym and tracking what they are eating. Apps, fitbits, and newsletters all help keep folks accountable.
What would happen if we were as diligent with knowing where our time went as we were about what food we were eating? It’s actually not as hard as you think.
With 168 hours in a week, in addition to your responsibilities at home and work, you can definitely make time for you, your dreams, and the things you love.
The best way to find pockets of time (or fringe hours, as I like to call them) in your day is to track your time. Tracking your time is an easy, eye-opening exercise to really understand how you spend your time each week.
The exercise is simple. Download and use this spreadsheet--the template in My Fringe Hours: Discovering a More Creative and Fulfilled Life, a calendar or a notebook.
Then for one week, track everything you do.
Meetings. Laundry. Special projects. Meal prep. Kid pick-up. EVERYTHING.
At the end of the week take a look at where your time went.
Really look at your time sheet and ask yourself these questions as you review your days:
Where did I spend my time?
What items are non-negotiables (e.g., work, taking kids to school, etc.)?
What time was wasted?
What activities could be streamlined in my schedule? (For instance, does doing laundry every day make sense, or would it be better to do it as a marathon on one day?)
Am I doing too much? Do I need to be better at saying no?
Did I do anything just because it would have made me feel guilty to not do it?
Would it be helpful to ask for or hire help for any of the things I spent time on during the week?
Did I take time for myself? If so, how much time?
Overall, how did I feel this week? Happy? Tired? Stressed? All of the above?
How did these emotions impact me and my activities?
These questions are just as important as the tracking itself, because you are able to really dig into your time and habits and re-discover where you would like to spend your time.
Once you complete this exercise, you will be able to see more clearly how you really spend your time, and the choices you need to make to be a better steward of it. This important exercise is incredibly useful for both the way you manage your time professionally and personally.
Leaders must use their time wisely. The better you manage your time, the better you will be able to achieve goals, and have a better work and life balance.
Making time to do the things you love doesn’t have to be a dream. Track your time and discover your fringe hours.