"Time is what we want most, but what we use worst." William Penn
The Work Life Balance Myth: If you are pursuing big audacious goals, you will not have a perfect work life balance. In some seasons certain areas will take up more of your time, and then it will shift to another area. It is a myth that you can find that perfect balance where you never have to give up something to stay at the top of your game. For instance, I have been working on my bachelor’s in accounting (woohoo almost done!). There are weeks when I can take a day off from course work and just hang out at the beach. There are weeks where I am a yes mom, “want to play a game mom?” “Yes!” “Can we go to the park?” “Yes!”, then there are weeks where I am buried in tax code and fraud reports, and I have to say no to all the fun and games to meet my deadlines. I wish life could be balanced, but life doesn’t work that way. So, I rely on sticking to a schedule to make sure that important tasks don’t fall through the cracks!
I am perpetually busy, or at least that is what I claim. How often have you seen someone that is kicking butt and taking names and you just think “how do they get it all done?” I feel like the “I am too busy” phrase can become a crutch to avoid the horrible, awful, no good tasks that just need done. The tasks that take us out of our comfort zone (hello public speaking) or the tasks that no one wants to do (hello scrubbing toilets). I recently saw a post that really stuck with me that said “high performers are aware of how they spend every single second, and they have a sense of urgency with their time. They treat it like the precious resource that it is.” This really struck a chord with me. It also is a quote I hid from my husband because he is constantly telling me that I have more time than I realize and that I probably waste way more time than I think on social media and games, hello Frozen Free Fall! Let me just say I feel attacked!! However, and never tell him I said this, he is right. Taking a good hard look at what you really do in a day can be a real kicker. All those comments and feelings of busyness were an excuse. Yes, I have a lot on my plate. Also yes, I do not have oodles of lounge time. And yes again, I do waste time on meaningless things. Now, before I go on, I want to make it clear, down time is good! Self-care is a must. And dang it, sometimes I just need to play a silly game to unwind. However, do I really NEED an hour of it in any given day?
There is no such thing as time management, there is only self-management---Rory Vaden
Let’s face it, time management (or as Rory says self-management) and goal chasing are hard, so you must be intentional about it. You have to control your schedule, or before long it will be controlling you! Busy work has a way of expanding to fill up the time we allow it to! So, how do we avoid these pitfalls? How do we make time to pursue new goals? We do a time audit!
A time audit is just what it sounds like. A full, unaltered accounting of what you do all day. You literally take account of what you do every minute of every day. At small regular intervals you will write down what you were doing all throughout the day. Do I have any office fans here? Remember the episode where corporate was annoyed with Michael, so Jan asked Pam to write down everything Michael did all day, then turn it in. Be Pam! (Season 3 ep 5 Initiation)
6 am: Woke up
6-6:30 scrolled on social media.
6:30-7 got up and had tea
7-7:15 sat and read/watched the news
7:15-7:30 danced in front of the mirror
Ok, you get the picture. Now, here is the kicker, most people will be tempted to make audit days their most productive day ever. This is what you want to avoid, because it will not be a true representation of your “typical” day. Let’s circle back to the Office example, on audit day also be Michael. Do what you normally do. So, if you spend an hour on candy crush most mornings, candy crush it up. If you take an hour shower and look like a lobster (If you know, you know, you know!) then take that long hot shower and proudly check out that angry red skin. I suggest doing time audits on at least 2-3 days. Get a couple typical weekdays in and one weekend day so you get a better picture of your life.
Then, after you complete your audit days, sit down, and take a meaningful look at how you spend your day. No shame or guilting yourself. Just graceful self-reflection. Our next post in this series will dive into what to do with your audit results!