Have you ever wondered, “Where does all of the time go?” I was feeling kind of bad about dropping a pastime I used to enjoy quite a bit, but I just felt that I didn’t have the time to do it well anymore. I became curious about how I spent my time each week. What changed?
So, a few weeks ago, I gave myself a task—to create a “time diary.” Basically, we have 168 hours in a week. Then I started subtracting things. Fifty hours a week for work (or more—we know how that goes!); 56 hours a week for sleep (more or less). Wow. I’m already over 100 hours. Now start subtracting the little things: time for grooming to get to work or to be presentable to the world, preparing and eating dinner, laundry, paying bills, walking the dog, grocery shopping, raking leaves, hauling the hose out to water the lawn, or shoveling the driveway. Now subtract out the time you spend running your kids from lesson to lesson, or sit on the sidelines watching a game. Subtract out doctor appointments, bath times, or books to be read aloud at bedtime, worship services, a baby shower you have to attend, or a birthday you want to celebrate. This is just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak.
Voila! How much actual unscheduled, unrestricted time do you have left?
Now, here’s a couple more things to subtract out: the time you spend on social media and the time you watch television, enjoying a favorite show or two each week, plus the intimate moments you set aside with your spouse.
When I factored all of that, I finished with about 32 hours each week remaining. I figure that’s why I am super good at multi-tasking, from running laundry while I am also running the vacuum cleaner, and folding laundry while I watch the news, to drinking my coffee while I walk the dog. But only 32 hours?
But I bring this up because allocating time for you, time to just be—is healthful. I have become fiercely protective of my 32 hours. As parents, we have a knack for self-sacrifice, but you must not let it become all-encompassing. Take time to breathe as the holiday season approaches, and put your feet up. Take a walk without your dog or your kids, so you can concentrate on your own thoughts. Don’t feel “guilty” about leaving a pan dirty in the sink or skipping your son’s game. Respect those hours that can be yours and only yours, and take time to be.