Your Schedule Doesn’t Lie

Today, let’s look at how we live our priorities through our schedule.

Make a time diary
Grab a piece of paper, a notebook, or open a spreadsheet. And make sure you have a clock or watch nearby at all times.

You can also try a time-tracking app such as Toggl or TimeKeeper (Mac | iPhone | Android).

In 15-minute increments, track how you spent your time today. For example:

6:30 Woke up
6:45 Shower, get dressed
7:00 Breakfast
7:30 Leave for work
7:30 – 8:45 Commuting
9:00 At work
9:00 – 10:15 Working
10:15 Coffee break

Etc.

Analyze your diary
Once you’ve finished your time diary, take a look at it. Add up the time spent on various tasks.

For example:
9 hours – at work (total)
4 hours – at work, actually working
2.5 hours – at work, cruising Facebook
30 minutes – at work, hanging out with coworkers talking about last night’s reality TV show
2 hours – at work, making doodles in a meeting
2.5 hours – commuting
1.5 hours – TV
1 hour – workout

Etc.

Then, ask yourself:

1) How am I spending my time?
Look at the time spent on all tasks.

2) What are my top priorities in life? What is important to me — what brings me joy?
If you aren’t sure what your life priorities are, this is a good time to think about them. Go back to the lessons on goals, identity, and values from the early days of the program for some ideas.

3) How much time am I spending on my top life priorities?
Does your schedule reflect your values?

4) What are my “time-suckers”?
Time-suckers are things that take up time, but don’t really benefit you. This could be standing in a lineup, watching TV, cruising the internet, being physically at work but not doing anything productive, etc.

5) Given this, what could I change about my schedule so that my time reflects my top life priorities?
What might you need to change or adjust? How could you do more of what you love in life?

What could you change?
Could you…

Do fewer things, but with more focus?
Creating a priority list will help you decide what to do first.

Cut down one “time sucker”?
If necessary, use a timer. Decide in advance that you’ll spend 10 minutes creeping your old high school friend’s Facebook page, or watching videos of cute baby animals, and no more. When that alarm goes off, you’re done. Say goodbye to the party photos and sneezing baby pandas. (Try a browser app like StayFocusd if you need extra help.)

Ask for help?
(Yeah, we know, it’s hard.)

Uni-task instead of multi-task?
Studies show that contrary to what you might expect, doing ONE thing at a time, with your full attention, works much better than trying to juggle a bunch of stuff at once. (Now doesn’t that approach sound familiar?)

Multi-tasking: Do crappy-quality, distracted work more stressfully!

Plan and prepare more effectively?
For instance, an hour of food prep time on the weekend might be worth five hours of free time during the week.

Let one small responsibility or task go?
We’ll talk more about how to let things go on Friday.
Find one small way to chase your joy.

Do you love running? Paint by numbers? Philately? Learning ancient Sanskrit? How could you juggle your schedule to do more of that?

Start small
Try one little change at a time.

See if you can add 15 minutes of something important while removing 15 minutes of something unimportant.

Or, see if you can give a task your undivided attention for a full 5-10 minutes without checking email.

What to do today
1) Make a time diary.
Today, track your time spent.

2) Analyze your time diary.
Add up your time. Where do you spend the most time? Does that time spent reflect what’s truly important to you?

3) Think about how to improve your schedule just a little bit.
You might need to do less or shuffle some things around. As always, start small — one thing at a time.