Amy Rees Anderson

Take A Personal Inventory of How You Are Spending Your Time

Time is something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately. I suppose that’s been driven by my going through several life changing events recently, like the death of a relative, and my children getting in a serious car accident, and a parent who has been extremely ill, and several other things of that nature that have caused me to be keenly aware of just how precious our time is.  As a subset of that, I’ve been thinking a lot about where I am spending my time and how I am allocating it, and wondering whether I’m spending my time in the purposeful ways that I want to be, or whether I’m allowing my time to be too easily consumed by things without first considering if they help achieve my purposes.

And so I’ve been working on doing a personal inventory of how I am spending my time, and I have to say it’s an interesting exercise to do. Here is how I have been going about it – Most of use an electronic calendar system such as Microsoft Outlook or the iPhone calendar etc so the easiest way to begin taking inventory of your time is to look at your calendar over the last month and count the hours spent on different scheduled activities and figure out the average hours per week you are spending on the different scheduled activities (ie. x hours in board meetings, and x hours on charity/service work, and x hours on church related activities, x hours on  _____). Next you have to think back to how much time you spend on unscheduled activities and come up with honest estimates of how much time is spent on each of those things (ie. x hours of quality time with your spouse or kids, x hours doing housework/yardwork, x hours watching tv, x hours playing video games, x hours ______, etc). Once you have the list of types of activities your time is being spent on with the average hours a week spent on each take a look at how it pans out (you can do an easy Excel chart that displays as a pie chart if you like visual representations like I do).  Then ask yourself, is how this is split out the way I ideally want it to be? Do I feel good about the way I’ve allocated my time? Or do I see areas I feel should be a larger piece of my pie and other areas I feel should be a smaller piece of my pie? It really opens your eyes up to where your time is going.

Taking a personal inventory of our time is an exercise we all ought to be doing a lot more often in our lives to ensure we haven’t let things get off-kilter or out-of-whack with the way we are spending our time. The reality is that if we don’t stop and take a personal inventory of it we can far too easily get sucked into working way too many hours, or playing way too many hours, or looking at social media for way too many hours, or watching tv way too many hours, etc without even recognizing what we have done. And even if we are not working too many hours we may be working on the wrong things at work for too many hours that aren’t helping us achieve our real purpose. And frankly it often happens without our even realizing it was happening.

Just as a business has to stay on top of their inventory to be successful, we have to stay on top of inventorying our personal time if we want to be successful. Every moment counts and a single moment we spend on something that doesn’t help us achieve our purposes is a moment lost that we can never get back. So take the inventory of your time, and then really evaluate the activities you want to keep on your chart and the activities you need to either get off your chart or minimize. Then do what you need to do to reallocate your time the way you want it to be and get going!

I, for one, am recognizing that I need to also be willing to re-inventory my time at least once a month, or at minimum once a quarter, so I can make sure I haven’t allowed anything to inadvertently go off-kilter in the way I am spending my most valuable resource. So I’m going to schedule a recurring appointment for myself to Inventory My Time to make sure I actually do it!

Our time is the most precious asset we possess, so make sure it’s being invested wisely!

~Amy Rees Anderson

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