How Much Time Do You Really Have?
By Randy Wolken, President & CEO
I hear it nearly every day. People tell me they are “busy,” “overwhelmed,” “running with their hair-on-fire” (thankfully, not literally), and a host of other related sayings of similar sentiment. But, exactly how busy are we? Or better yet, how much time do we have? To be exact, we all have 168 hours each week. The real question for all of us is – what do we do with them?
Here is my challenge for you. Track your time for one complete week. Pick reasonable time intervals such as 15 minutes or 30 minutes. Keep a spreadsheet, or use one of the many smartphone applications, and literally track your daily use of time. At the end of the day, fill in the times you did not record while going through your day. How you use your time will surprise you. My daily log certainly surprised me.
What did I learn from my week of tracking? I learned that I do work plenty, but not as effectively as I could. I realized I spend my most enjoyable time with others – at work and at home. I realized that I waste time needlessly on tasks that are not all that important. I noticed that I do not spend enough time preparing for the significant outcomes I want for my future – and my organization’s opportunities. I saw great places to make my use of time more meaningful, impactful, and joyous. And lastly, I learned a lot by keeping track of the one thing in my life I can never get back – my time.
I also had a deeper realization. I realized that by tracking my time I became more aware of how I was spending it. It became more precious to me. I saw it as a limited commodity – that when I was using it – or not – it still passed by. It was gone forever. This, over the course of my week, encouraged me to become more intentional about how I was using my time and more thoughtful about how I would use my time in the moments ahead.
Life usually reminds us that our time is limited. When we lose a loved one, a special pet friend, or our children leave home; we are reminded that our time is not unlimited. It truly is precious – even priceless. No matter who you are – you only get 168 hours this week. How will you use them? How you answer this question – by how you use your time – will define the quality of your week – and eventually – your life.