“Time, that sweet luxury, and the close ties it inspires, usually happens in college, when days move slowly around similar events.”
There are 24 hours in a day, 168 hours in a week, and 672 hours in a month. After sleeping and working there is still time left to focus on what matters to you. Yet, time can be wasted very quickly. Over the years I’ve wasted a lot of my time; activities that come to mind include watching bad TV, spending way too much time on Twitter, and going to networking events that I didn’t enjoy.
To manage my time more effectively I’ve incorporated a few very simple time management rules into my daily routine. These simple rules have helped me create more time for solitude, work, exercise and my relationships. Today, I thought I’d share those rules with you!
1. Track it.
Late last year, I felt like I was wasting too much time so I started tracking it. I printed out a copy of my Google calendar and recorded how I spent my time for one week. I recorded all of my activities, including:
-Sleeping -Eating -Exercise -Work -Internet browsing and TV watching. -And other odds and ends.
My time tracking results surprised me. Why? Well, I had a whole lot more time at my disposal than I thought. For example, I noticed that I was spending way too much time on social networks like Twitter and Facebook. So I changed that behavior and starting reading more often.
2. Say no.
At one time I said yes to everything and that ate up my time really quickly. Now I use a different strategy. I only say yes to projects, events, and visits that excite me. Working on Your Lovely Life is a great example of this action plan.
3. Create space for solitude.
By tracking my time and saying no more often, I’ve created space for solitude. I need time by myself to think deeply about ideas and to write. Without alone time, I feel frazzled and unable to come up with good writing ideas.
4. Listen to your body.
When I was younger, I would push my body to it’s limits. If my knee was feeling bad, I’d keep biking or running regardless of the pain. Now I listen to my body. For example, I wasn’t feeling good last week and had to forgo a "girls night" with my friends. I didn’t want to give-up a night on the town but I needed to catch-up on sleep. And that saved me a lot of time. Rather than battling a cold for a week, it was gone in a few days.
5. Limit TV consumption.
In 2006 we gave our TV away to a friend and I don’t miss it. Occasionally, I watch a movie or The Daily Show with Logan on the computer. And when I’m at my parents place I watch the Discovery Channel or Animal Planet. Over the course of a month, I watch two or three hours of TV. Five years ago, I spent about fifteen hours a week in front of the TV; that’s 60 hours a month! Instead of zoning out in front of the TV, I love snuggling up with a good book.
6. Use the Internet mindfully.
In July of 2011, I took a month long digital sabbatical because I needed a break from the web. The sabbatical helped me refocus and re-prioritize my online time. For example, when I open up my browser I’m intentional about what I’m doing, whether that means doing research or checking my email. Just like TV, I can spend way too many hours on the Internet. I love the Internet, but I also know there are only so many hours in a day.
By incorporating these six simple rules into my daily routine, I’m a whole lot happier and healthier. And it all started with the simple act of tracking my time.