February 15

We have 168 hours every week

I'm currently reading a life-altering book, 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think, by Laura Vanderkam. The book's premise is that we all have the same 168 hours each week, but that some of us use our time more wisely and efficiently than others.
Blogs allow us a window into others peoples' lives. I am in awe of and fascinated by the moms with six kids, who home school, sew clothes, manage the household, and write blogs and books. Vanderkam tells us of dads who run mult-million dollar companies, coach their kid's baseball team, and sing in a local choir. There seem to be people who just know how to use time and use it to the fullest. She tells stories of all sorts of people who “find the time” to do a many amazing things, all in one lifetime.

Vanderkam didn't just say, “Wow, how nice for those unusually productive people.”

She interviewed them, found out how they manage their time, and looked at how average Americans spend their time. She combined her investigate reporting skills and her knack for sifting through academic, sociological data, and she paints for us a compelling picture of how productive people spend their time wisely, much more wisely than the average American (me).

I don't want to be the average American, though. I want to be that person who carves out a life of intentionality, with particular life goals, and uses time to propel those goals forward.

I want to push my freelance editing business to the next level. I want to write. I want to read to and play games with my kids every day. I want to travel to amazing sites as a family. I want to date my husband. I want my house to be livable. I want to feed my family healthy meals. I want to exercise regularly.

Too much for one life, you say? That's what I would have said last week, too, but Vanderkam's book is challenging my assumptions of time. She asserts that we tend to use time in ways that does not match our actual goals, hence the frustration of feeling like there's “never enough time.”

I am currently tracking my time. Every 15-30 minutes, I write down what tasks I have been doing. It takes less time to write everything down than I thought I would. After a week or so, I'll look back at what I spend my time on and evaluate it, according to what my life goals are.

That may mean that I cut out TV. How much do I really love Modern Family anyway? Maybe I'll see that I'm spending too much time going to the store and preparing meals, so I'll streamline groceries and meal prep. Maybe I'll see that I think I'm “doing social media promotion,” but I'm actually spending 45 minutes doing random stuff on Facebook.

The point is that we know that we waste time, but we vastly underestimate how much time we waste.

Do you really know how much time you spend getting ready or commuting? Answering emails and reading blogs? Those short TV episodes, tri-weekly trips to the store, and 45 minutes of time on Facebook, those meaningless tasks are stealing your dreams.

Some tasks are essential. I know that I'll devote some time to social media and reading blogs, because I believe they'll help me push my business to the next level. If I hadn't read blogs, I never would have discovered this book. I need to make sure that the tasks I do choose are purposeful, intentional, and helpful in living life to the fullest.

You have dreams, right? Goals? Aspirations? Deadlines?

Then, let's all learn to use our time wisely, to propel our dreams forward. The Irish have an old saying that I heard while traveling through Ireland as a college student:

“When God made time, He made enough of it.”

The implication is that God made enough time for you to do the things He wants you to do. God may not agree that watching random TV should be on the priority list.

You believe that you have important things to do on this earth? I do, too. So let's hold ourselves accountable to the time we've been given. Let's craft a life of purpose and intentionality, and let's start today.

What about you? Have you found areas of your life that take too much of your time? What would you cut, if you could? What would you spend more time doing, if you could?

Check out Vanderkam's 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think.

Accept the challenge and log your time using either the worksheet or Xcel spreadsheet available.


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