New to FYA? Start by clicking HERE

Friday, April 20, 2012

You have more time than you think

So many people want something more from their lives. They want to open a business, write a novel, or spend more time helping those around them. “I just don’t have the time!”  We all say that. How much time do we have, really? Most of us work. We all sleep. Then there is a the day to day stuff you just have to do, like shop for food and floss your teeth. But what about all the time we really could be productive in? What about the hours spent watching TV? The time you spend chatting with friends? You have to admit, we all have extra time. 

Cooking, shopping, getting the kids breakfast, all those are things you have to do. For many people, that's it. They feel  it’s all they can do to satisfy their employers and their own basic needs. They stick to the belief they have no extra time. There are 168 hours in a week. If you add up your working and sleeping time, you still have 65 hours a week .Don’t worry, I gave you commute time and getting ready for work time.  Turns out, what people feel they have to do adds up to another 30 hours per week. So the average person has 35 hours a week to themselves. What do they do with it?

This is a per day average based on a large survey of thousands of people. 

What do people do with their extra time? Mainly watch TV. That’s pretty bad! Most people spend as much time watching TV as they do working at their jobs. According to the survey, the average work week is 35 hours.  So many people complain they are unhappy, yet they waste so much time watching TV shows when they could be doing something about meeting their aim.  Looking at that chart, I can see just how I have been able to accomplish extra things. I don’t watch TV. But there is also the internet! It's so easy now to get lost on the internet. You open your computer and the next thing you know, you are looking at Facebook or the news. It can be an endless loop if you aren't careful.  I have been wasting a lot of time reading the stats on this blog. It becomes an obsession! I would be much better off just working on my writing and marketing. But luckily, I have forced myself to keep away from TV and the internet. Usually, my method works. This past week, it seemed to be a losing battle

In the last 5 days, I have had no free time. In addition to my normal requirements of keeping my business running, doing mountains of paperwork, and keeping my children on task with home schooling, I have been dealing with a vacancy in my rental. Two weeks of open houses, repairs, and improvements. I was exhausted! I found myself watching TV and cruising the internet in an endless circle of wasting time. So, I did have free time after all!  Why do we waste more time when we are tired? Now I have a new tenant and a lot more free time. So I am back to writing this blog, something I love to do. 

I am not trying to say I have a secret to not wasting time. I don’t! I am a terrible time waster some days. But for the majority of the time, I am productive. Good thing because I feel miserable when I waste time. I have kind of an odd schedule. Three days a week, I work a 16 hour day. Two days a week I am home with my children all day and the same on the weekends. Here is a short list of what I do on the days I not at my job. This is true for four days a week and is pretty much the only way I can get things done.

1.     Prioritize your ‘jobs’ every day. Before I do anything at all, when I first get up, I look at everything I need to do. I write down all the things that must be done.  These include getting my client notes and billing done, helping the kids with their lessons, dealing with business related matters and things like cooking dinner and shopping. Some of these can be done easily. Others require a huge time investment. I star the things I must do that very day. This is important for step two.

2.     Exercise first   - You know that saying, pay yourself first? I include my own fitness as part of that. I run or lift weights every single morning. On the weekends I like to go for an early hike or paddle in the ocean.

3.     Do the hardest things next. I make sure I tackle the most difficult and pressing things first. If it's not starred as “today” I don’t touch it. This way, I am not behind. By 10:00 or 11:00 I am usually done with all the mentally taxing stuff. I find I just can not be fully productive at the end of the day.

4.     Next – Do the non-priority stuff. These include the annoying phone calls, the grocery shopping, getting dinner started, all the mundane stuff. If I am lucky, I get all this done by the early afternoon. But guess what? If I am too busy with the starred stuff, I will skip this. I would rather have a very simple dinner or miss a crappy phone call than not get my starred stuff done.

5.     Forced break. No, not by turning the TV or internet on. I leave the house and do something.  All morning I tell the kids (and myself) that by 2:00 we will have some fun. It might be as simple as grocery shopping or taking the kids for a short hike or swim. But something away from the house and the phone. My kids work very hard at their online schooling. It's so easy to lose sight of the fact that they are tired from a day of doing lessons. Nothing perks us up more than having fun for an hour. I make sure not to go for more than an hour or so, otherwise we will wear ourselves out. The idea is to give yourself a break, not kill the rest of the day.

6.     Do what you love for an hour. For the past year, I have made it a priority to do at least one thing I love each day. Right now, it's writing this blog. But it could be anything from working on a new business to writing and art.

7.     One final push - After dinner and time with the family, I don’t give into the TV temptation. I open my laptop and try to do more work. I finish my blog post, work on other projects, or review my investments. I will sleep much more soundly knowing I have accomplished things rather than watched TV.

8.     Early to bed. By 9:30 I am beat. So rather than staying up late watching a movie, I make every attempt to get to sleep. Sometimes, this is where I lose the battle. But often enough, I get needed sleep. You can not be productive if you are sleep-deprived. I think this is probably the most important point on my list.

So that’s it, my master plan for avoiding time traps. I hope it helps!



  1. I love this one Doug - I rarely watch TV, I much prefer to read or write! The only time the TV ever goes on is if there is a scheduled show I really, really like (and there aren't many!) and even then, I use the time watching to also do something - stretch, pay bills, etc. The only downfall is not being able to discuss shows with people, but I can live with that. Reality is a lot better than reality TV.