What's the answer? Work every minute of every day until you collapse from exhaustion?
I don't think so.
I think we probably have more discretionary time than we think, but we twiddle away the time in the pursuit of relaxing or unwinding.
Sometimes, we waste a few minutes here, a few more there because we think we need a big block of time in order to accomplish something.
Wrong. A couple of minutes every hour throughout the day adds up to well more than an hour.
But how do you utilize those fragments of an hour to make them count?
1. Monitor your minutes.
First, figure out how you're actually spending your time from the moment you open your eyes in the morning until you close them at night to sleep. To do this, keep a time journal.
Write down how long it takes you to get ready in the morning. A Smartphone is great for this. I started using the stopwatch feature on mine to see how long it took me to do what I do.
I can't say I was surprised to see that I spent a lot of time going off on tangents. I timed all the interruptions and distractions--and with my Darling Hubby home most of the time, there are plenty.
So use your stopwatch and see how long it takes you to shower, dress, do your hair and makeup. How long to prepare and eat breakfast. How long you spend yakking on the phone or checking email or social media.
Write it all down for a week, and you'll see where there's plenty of time you could have utilized in a more effective way.
Once you've tracked your time for a week, study your stats.
Is there extra time while you wait to drive to work or drive carpool to get the kids to school?
Is there extra time during your lunch hour? How much time do you spend watching TV?
How much time are you spending on Facebook, Instagram, etc.?
3. Prioritize your tasks.
Now you should know what's important to you because that's what you're spending the most time on. Things like work, family, kids, friends, good health habits, etc. If you're pursuing a secondary career or passionate hobby--like writing, painting, etc.--and you have your day job, then it's more important than ever that you carve out time for that.
Think about all that you need to do--really need not just want--on a daily basis and prioritize with a number system. 1 of course is most important, but you can break that down into 1A, 1B, 1C, etc. if you have tasks that are almost equally important.
4. Plan your day the night before.
I'm a big fan of lists. Every night, I make a list of the things I need to do the next day. I list them in order of importance. Most of the "want to do's" on my list are under the heading of personal. When you finish your plan for tomorrow, read it. The next morning when you're dressed for the day, read the list again.
5. Plan ahead for the fragments of time.
Depending on what you need more time for, pack a go-bag that will help you take advantage of those random minutes that suddenly aren't scheduled.
If you're writing a book, take along small tablet computer or even a notebook and pen in your purse. Whip it out if you suddenly find yourself waiting for the boss to assign you a new task, or you brought a sandwich for lunch so you could eat at your desk and use the time for writing.
Maybe you just want to add the personal touch to your relationships like writing letters and cards to family who don't text and email--or maybe to those you love to give more than a quick text or call. Have your stationery, envelope, addresses, and stamps in a large envelope so you can drop it into your briefcase, purse, or totebag--your Go Bag.
If you're trying to get ahead as a blogger, have a notebook or a file on your tablet computer of ideas, links, etc. so you can rough draft several posts.
I'm always surprised when I take my daughter to PT at the hospital, and the waiting room is filled with people flipping through the few magazines there, watching a boring talk program where everyone argues and hurls insults, or simply stares into space or tries to engage others in random conversation.
If you're riding in a car, bus, train, or van pool, use the time for your project. If your stuck on the phone on hold, use the minutes by always keeping a notebook near you so you can make notes or put down a sentence or two if writing is your thing. If knitting, cross stitch, or other hand work, is your thing, have it ready to go.
|Earth Day Tote Bag|
Make a Go Bag for your interest--make more than one if you have several projects in mind even if you just put books you want to read in a bag.
Grab the Go Bag of your choice before you walk out the door. Whatever your passion or your needs, your Go Bag helps you take advantage of the "free" time you find yourself with.
Try this and let me know if you accomplish more. More writing, more staying in touch with those you love, more hobby work, more feeling as if you're controlling your time instead of the other way around.
One of my favorite quotes addresses the importance of making time count. Henry David Thoreau said, "As if you could kill time without injuring eternity."