Friday, July 31, 2009

v28.6: Never Enough Time

Good morning folks,

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It is Friday!  We have been blessed with yet another weekend and for some of us, a long weekend.  I am lucky enough to have the day off today as well as Monday so I have an extra long weekend ahead of me.

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You've undoubtedly heard someone say, "I never have enough time" or even have said it yourself a time or two.  Personally I say this all the time as I look around my home and see the "little" things that need to get done.  For example, today I was thinking about the long grass in my backyard that needs to be cut.  I immediately didn't consider doing it because I just don't have the time.  Funny how, as human beings, we tend to argue with ourselves more than anyone else.

Self: I should cut the grass today
Self: But I really need to check my email first
Self: If I don't cut the grass now I'll never get to it later
Self: After I check my email I can cut the grass
Self: What if I get side tracked and forget about the grass while checking my email?
Self: That's the idea :)
Self: Ahhh, I get it.  You're right, we just don't have time today to cut the grass; besides, it is probably wet anyway.
Self: Exactly, we can cut the grass tomorrow when it is nice and dry.

And so the internal debate continues.  Ultimately, I feel this is what causes insanity in older adults; the constant arguing with yourself can't be good.  But that is a topic for another musing.

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So while I'm on the topic of "Never Enough Time", I've decided to create a little exercise for everyone to participate in.  This one is fairly simple, all you need is a piece of paper, a writing tool (or notepad on your computer) and some knowledge of what your average week is like.

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First things first, at the top of the page write 168.  This represents the total number of hours (per week) that we have to live.  This number is fairly static and won't change; there are 24 hours in a day and 7 days in a week; that equals 168.  If you'd like to debate this, please post a comment, I'm always up for a good debate.

Now think about how many hours (on average if you're not a full-time employee) per week you work.  Write that number below the 168 and label it Work:

168 Total
-40 Work

It is recommended that Adults get at least 7 hours of sleep a night.  While that may be nice, it isn't realistic for most of us so take an average week and figure out how many hours you sleep.  For myself, I sleep on average 6 hours a night so that works out to 42 hours a week of sleep.  Therefore, I would write that just below my work line:

168 Total
-40 Work
-46 Sleep

Now we're starting to see something here.  Think of the things you do routinely every single week.  For example, how much time per day do you spend getting ready for and travelling to and from work?  How much time per day do you usually spend making meals (while not at work) and how much time per day do you usually spend getting ready for bed?  Add all that up over a week and we'll label it Preparation.  Since it typically takes me an hour in the morning to get ready and drive to work, and approximately half an hour to drive home, I spend approximately 7.5hrs a week just getting to and from work.  Since I typically don't cook supper because it is lovingly prepared for me and ready shortly after I get home, I am only looking at how much time it takes me to get ready for bed every night (don't forget about weekends!) so I rounded mine up to 9 hours.  Then there are the weekends I need to think about.  I typically spend 30 minutes per meal on the weekend so that equals another 3 hours there so that brings my total preparation time up to 12 hours a week.

168 Total
-40 Work
-46 Sleep
-12 Preparation

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Now that we have most of the necessities out of the way, let's talk about running errands.  Some good examples of this are getting groceries, getting the mail (if it isn't delivered to your door) and paying bills.  These are all things we need to do on a weekly (sometimes daily) basis so make sure you add it all up and put a total down.  I typically only do groceries once every other week and it lasts a couple hours.  My mail is delivered to my door and I pay all my bills online (this still takes time to do, just not as much).  I do, however, need to run to the store a couple times a week to pick up things like milk and bread so let's say, on average, I spend 3 hours running errands.

168 Total
-40 Work
-46 Sleep
-12 Preparation
-3  Errands

Now that we have all these things listed, let's do some quick math.  Take the total at the top and subtract all the values underneath that.  You should hopefully be left with a positive number; if you're not, you may want to seek some help in either mathematics or task delegation.  Here is what mine looks like:

168 Total
-40 Work
-46 Sleep
-12 Preparation
-3  Errands
---------------
67  Left Over

This means I have 67 hours in my week to get things done.  This is almost equivalent to 2 full work weeks worth of work.  How can I say I never have any time?

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Of course you may have other things in here.  For example if you volunteer your time at social events, you will want to subtract that from this as well.  At the end of the calculation you should always be left with a positive number.  If you're finding you have less than 10 hours a week left over, you may want to look at cutting back on some of your extra tasks as this means you have a little over an hour everyday to yourself and that isn't good.

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The purpose of this exercise wasn't to prove you had enough time, it was to shift your mental perception that you never have enough time.  For most of us, we know we have the time to do the things we need to do, we just make ourselves believe we don't so we can do nothing at all (which is what some of us would rather be doing).  If you wrote this down on a piece of paper, stick it up on your refridgerator and look at it daily.  Keep your mind focused on the free time and you will never again "think" you never have enough time.

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Well folks, as I already mentioned I have the day off today so I plan on getting things done (or doing nothing, we'll see how it goes :) ).  I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on the subject of never enough time; and if you're brave enough, I'd like to see your calculations posted.

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Cheers,
Al