With my personality type, I enjoy tracking activity with check-lists, to-do forms, and the like. I tend to find any piece of data which can be monitored, tracked, and analyzed to be interesting and insightful. On August 1st, I therefore began a daily task which has been recommended in various professional development books and articles I have read over the years: I began writing down how I am spending the 24 hours of each day. The results, 45 days later, have been educational.
Some of the data was to be expected. I average 46 hours of sleep per week (6.5/night), and 40ish hours per week in my career field. My third and fourth largest time consumption are spending time with my wife (averaging 30 hours/week) and my side-business (averaging 15 hours/week). With only 168 hours in a week, that left an average of 37 hours in the week for everything else: church, exercise, personal time, friends, volunteer groups, and other organizations I care about.
As mentioned above, the information was educational. Not because I was unaware of what I by and large was doing each week, but rather because it laid clear that there are, in fact, only 168 hours in each week. Being involved in many different “projects” means that there is only so much time that I can devote to each, and the more I participate in, the less time there is to go around, regardless of how badly I would like to give more. While I would like to think that I am spending more time than I really am either studying professional development, reading the Bible, or being with friends, the facts don’t lie. Those things which I have intentionally (or not) made a priority are where my time gets spent. If I wish to spend more time elsewhere, something or somethings else will have to yield.
If you have never, or rarely, given serious thought to how you spend your time, I encourage you to try a similar exercise. You don’t need to mark down every little detail, but be conscious and honest about where your time is being spent. If you check social media or email for ten minutes every single hour, that adds up to hours throughout the day. If you are involved in too many side-hobbies and interests that are keeping you from other activities that are more important, you may need to consider making the difficult choices of putting those activities on hold. Only you (and your family) can determine where your time needs to be spent, so choose wisely.
In closing, here are some quotes on time to consider:
- Time is what we want most, but what we use worst. – William Penn
- The key is not in spending time, but in investing it. – Stephen Covey
- A man who dares to waste one hour of life has not discovered the value of life. – Charles Darwin
- Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of. Time is money. – Benjamin Franklin
- It’s not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is, what are we busy about? – Henry David Thoreau
- Time is the most valuable thing a man can spend – Theophrastus
- You will never “find” time for anything. If you want time, you must make it. – Charles Bruxton
- The great dividing line between success and failure can be expressed in five words: “I did not have time.”
Jeremiah Clark, M.A., is the co-owner of Appalachian Digital, a website development agency. He is also a Lead Systems Analyst with the Cleveland Clinic Healthcare System. You can contact Jeremiah at JClark390@gmail.com or connect with him on LinkedIn at Jeremiah Clark.