How do you spend your time?
The places where you spend your time efficiently and those where you are not productive.
Because managing your time correctly is a critical prerequisite to goal achievement.
Time – Where Does Your Time Go?
As you have probably figured out already, the Discovery Voyage is nothing but a deep dive into the available resources at your disposal. Your character, strengths, skills, and passions are all resources that already exist within you. The point of this first leg of your journey is to understand them, define them, and then figure out the connections between them and the way that they support one another.
From this perspective, time is also a resource, but unlike all the others it has one nasty trait: it doesn’t care. Time doesn’t give a damn. Time simply passes. Every day, you deposit twenty-four hours into your past and decrease your future by that same amount. It’s unrelenting and cruel. But the worst part is that although it seems as if your life runs at the speed of light, it’s actually very slow. So slow that you don’t truly feel it pass, day by day, and hour by hour.
That means that as your day progresses you don’t feel any kind of urgency. There’s always tomorrow, that’s the thing. Tomorrow is always around the corner, like a cloaked temptress whispering in your ear, “Wait for me, wait for me. I’ll come. Wait for me.” If there’s no urgency for today, so forget about next week or next month or next year. How about the next decade? That seems like a different life; you can’t even wrap your brain around it.
This is a gigantic problem, and I am not exaggerating even a bit. It’s a massive issue because, when you don’t feel the urgency, you are not prone to act. If your house were to catch on fire today, you’d be jumping up and doing something about it right away. But what if someone told you that a specific part of your house might damage over the next ten years, which may or may not cause a fire, would you jump up from the couch and fix it right away? You should! But, much like me, you’d probably think ten years is enough of a cushion for you to deal with it next week.
And that’s when you’ve lost the battle.
Understanding Your Time
If you’re like me, you have a gazillion things on your mind and twice as many on your to-do list. Not all of them are yours personally, but they are as close to you as possible. You have things to accomplish with regard to your spouse, kids, extended family, your house, bills, work, and so on. You must do them all, but how?
Over time, as things get more and more complex, you develop several habits to cope with this situation. Wake up at this hour, prep this meal, do laundry, and so on. But as things complicate even more and the volume increases exponentially, there comes a time when all of them just pile up inside your brain, and you become overwhelmed.
Habits and rituals help, don’t get me wrong; without them, you’d be lost. But as these urgent, daily, minor things multiply, there’s less and less time for any kind of thoughtful action toward your own goals and personal growth. You become busy. Things are happening all day long, and you don’t seem to sit down for a minute. You’re always moving, always taking care of something.
Then a year passes by, and you pull out your bucket list or your New Year’s Resolutions, and… shit. Why are none of the items checked off? How is that possible? Where did the time go?
I hate that question. I’ve asked it so many times, and every time I found myself more puzzled than the last time. I am doing things. All the freakin’ time. Why does it seem like I’m not?
Well, let me tell you why I think that is: a lack of clarity. By not putting in the work to understand where your time goes, you’ll constantly be sucked in by its relentless vortex. You won’t stand still, yet you won’t do anything, or at least nothing important. You’re always busy, but never with the right things.
So, how do you nip it in the bud? By not raising this question it means you’ll remain complacent and stuck, so we won’t let it go at that. The answer is simple: do your personal time audit.
Your Personal Time Audit
Your Personal Time Audit is a straightforward exercise, but it requires at least a week or maybe more depending on your situation. Please don’t skim over it, even if you are a person who has a good handle on their time. This time audit should be a part of your annual review, and you should repeat it every single year from now until eternity.
Letting things maintain their status quo creates complacency. It doesn’t mean that things are always wrong for you. They might be as good as they get, but the difference is: do you know for sure? If you do the exercise and realize that nothing should be different, great! You just validated that you are on track.
Also, I guarantee you that even if you are organized and efficient and great with your time, by doing your audit, you will still identify spots where things could get better. Remember that every time you say that you don’t have time for something, it simply means that it’s not a priority for you. You can’t claim that health and fitness are the most important things to you if you don’t have any time for them.
The problem is that most of us know this at an intellectual level, but we cannot overcome the syndrome of busyness. The personal time audit is a tool that allows you to identify how you spend your time and for what, and get that clarity that you need in order to clean your slate.
Where Is Your Time Going?
So how do you do the audit? There are two different forms in the download package for this step. One is for your typical weekday, and one is for your typical weekend day. That’s a generic split, but if you can identify several “types” of days in your life, use a separate form for each.
For instance, your Saturday might differ greatly from your Sunday. Maybe you work on Sunday, or perhaps your Saturday is your day of full relaxation and recovery. Whatever it is, make sure you have a form for each typical type of day during the week. For me, having one sheet for my typical workday and one sheet for my regular weekend day worked well enough.
The audit worksheet comprises a journal-like page where you have all the hours of the day on rows, divided into increments of thirty minutes, and a few columns where you document what you do, who you are with, where you are, and how you feel. Take these daily pages with you everywhere you go to document them on the spot or, if you have an excellent memory, you can also fill them in at the end of the day.
For every half hour, or for chunks of hours, do your best to document those attributes that describe what you did at that time. As you can see, you are interested not only in what you did but also how you did it and how it made you feel. This is important, because you want to look for patterns here.
As you complete five to ten such worksheets, you can then sit down and put them in front of you. Look at them carefully and observe your daily patterns. You can use different colored highlighters to mark similar items.
Once you have identified a pattern, put it down on the separate worksheet called My Usual Day. Here you will document those things that you normally do according to the patterns you have observed. For instance, maybe from 7:00 am until 7:30 am you exercise. Maybe you read the newspaper. Perhaps you are still sleeping. Whatever it is, write it down.
On the right side of that sheet, you have several columns to check-mark. They allow you to evaluate that specific activity. Is it critical to your life, very important, or time-wasting? Does it generate a positive or negative feeling, and if so, how big?
At the end of the exercise, you will wind up with one or more of these “usual days,” each with their particular patterns and analysis. Look at them carefully. Are you already seeing places where time slips through your fingers? Do you notice things that you don’t have to do or shouldn’t do, but you do them anyway? Are you beginning to see a picture of how your time unravels?
Your Personal Time Audit Exercise
To complete this last leg of the Discovery Journey, click on the link below to download your Personal Time Audit worksheets. Once you have completed them, it’s time to move on to the Creation Voyage!
But before you get there, let me just say congratulations! You have just completed your time audit. Keep these pages safe as they will come in handy during the Action Voyage, when you will construct your days in the right way. Also, every time you feel as if time is once more flying by without you knowing where it’s going, redo this exercise. It doesn’t have to be in the context of this entire program; it’s a tool in and of itself, and you can use it to gain clarity and realign yourself at any point in your life.
Feedback, Comments, Suggestions, Testimonials
Do you have any feedback, suggestions, comments or ideas about the Self-Growth Journey Program? Or perhaps, you’d like to leave a testimonial for others to see? If so, please visit the feedback and testimonials page and let me know your thoughts. Thank you!