One of the most common excuses for inaction is lack of time. This is also the least likely excuse to actually be true. Guess what? We all have the same 24 hours in each day. Yet, some of us manage to do so much more with these hours than others do.
You may feel that you are totally swamped between work, home responsibilities and basic maintenance of your body (eating, sleeping, and exercising etc.), but this is probably not the reality of your situation. To truly determine how much time you really have, you need to do a time audit. A time audit is an analysis of how you actually use your time. You can do a time audit in retrospect or it can be done prospectively. Either way you will get a much better idea of just how much time you actually have and can determine how to redeploy your time for better results.
The simple approach to time audits is making a retrospective analysis. This is easier as it can be performed in a single session and does not require any note taking or tracking on your part. It is however, far less accurate than the prospective version which I will describe later. You will need a calendar (paper or digital is fine) that can be broken into hourly segments over the last week. You can find one here. Now do you best to fill in what you did during each of the 168 hours of the previous week.
You may be surprised to learn that work only took up 50 hours including commuting time, while sleeping took up another 50 hours (average of slightly more than 7 hours per day), which left you with a whopping 68 additional hours for other activities. Even after allowing for 14 hours (2 hours a day) for meals. There should still be 54 hours left in your week.
Look at what you actually used these 54 hours for, and compare this with what you would like to spend your time doing. Then determine if perhaps even 5 of these hours (less than 10%) could be redirected to the activities you would really like or want to do. It is likely that with some small tweaks to your routines, you can find this much time per week. Incredibly 5 hours a week adds up to 250 hours a year or a full month of work hours per year. Imagine what you can do with this towards any of your long-term goals.
Here are some ideas of what can be done in 250 hours per year. You can read 60 books of your choice. You can learn a new language. You can learn a new skill like cooking or playing a musical instrument. You can start that side business you have been pushing off until you have time. Or any of thousands of other goals you might have.
To take this to another level, try a prospective analysis. This involves tracking all of your hours for a week. Again, start with a calendar that allows for a week of time broken into hourly segments. This time start on Sunday evening and record what you did each hour of Sunday. Then repeat each day of the week until you have completed the calendar. Because you will be doing this daily, and knowing that you will have to log it each day, you will get a much more accurate and complete picture of your week.
Let me know if you have tried one of these time audits. I love to hear from you. Joe