Jon Aquino's Mental Garden

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Sunday, October 06, 2013

Thoughts on Time

I have been so bothered recently about where my time goes. There is so much on my personal to-do list, and I seem to rarely have time to attack it. I talked over the problem with my wife, and I have the following thoughts.

It seems that there are 3 types of things that take up your time:

  • Events - stuff you put on your calendar.
  • Actions - stuff on your to-do lists.
  • Growth - a daily half-hour that you try to protect: time for mental growth (reading), physical growth (exercise), or spiritual growth (prayer). This is the time for "sharpening the saw" as Stephen Covey puts it.

It seems the only things that ever get done are the events - the stuff you put on your calendar. Meanwhile, your todo list continues to lengthen, and those growth tasks? Forget about it.

Like everyone else, you have 24 hours in a day. Where do they go? For me, roughly 8 hours goes to sleep, 8 hours to work, and 4.5 hours to eating/showering/brushing teeth/etc. So that leaves 3.5 hours as a theoretical maximum for taking care of events, actions, and growth. I'm lucky that I don't have to commute to work - if I did, I would probably only have 1.5 hours available for this personal stuff.

If you have an event scheduled for the evening, that wipes out my 3.5 hours. Events are sucky - you have to do them, but they wipe out your free time for the evening. Not much you can do about that...

...other than trying really, really hard to protect your half-hour of growth time. Even if you have an event for the evening, like going to a concert, really try to make 30 minutes for doing one of your growth activities. At least I'm going to try hard to do this. But sometimes, the event really takes the whole evening, and you can't do your growth thing. Too bad, so sad.

So now we have a plan for taking care of events and growth. When do we take care of our to-do list (actions)? Set aside a protective bubble of an afternoon or an evening with nothing scheduled - this is the time that you can fill with stuff on your to-do list. For me, I can't do this more than once a week, it seems, but I should be able to set aside such time once.

Life is crazy busy for everyone. This is how I'm going to protect time for both the important and the mundane. Because even the mundane stuff needs time to be done.


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