Are you racing or pacing? How do you spend your 24 hours each day? Part 1 of 2


Marianna Kilburn
@MariannaKilburn


14 July 2014

How do you spend the 24 hours in your day?

Do you race, press your ‘go button’ on waking in a state of high alert and then collapse into bed, exhausted, 17 hours later?

Or, do you pace, consider the number of hours in your day and choose how you are going to spend your time?

For so many of us, time seems to run away with itself. We speed up to match incoming demands, forget we have choices and wonder why we are running around tired and wired like headless chickens fuelled by adrenaline! What can we do about this and where do we even start when our to do list is growing by the second?

One of the simplest ways to look at this is to log how we spend our 24 hours in a Time Chart over the course of a week. See example below for 1 day:

Task Monday - number of hours Total hours
Sleep Work Travel 7 hours 8.5 hours 2 hours 7 hours 15.5 hours 17.5 hours
Housework Admin/errands 2 hours 1 hours 19.5 hours 20.5 hours
Childcare Husband 2 hours 0.5 hours 22.5 hours 23 hours
Exercise Friends Free time for self 0 hours 0 hours 1 Hour 23 hours 23 hours 24 hours

Take a friend of mine, in her mid-fifties, working full time and ideally wanting to slow the pace and ponder how she might like to spend her retirement? This is a typical use of her 24 hours:

  • 7 hours – sleep – (of which only 2 may be uninterrupted due to time spent worrying about other demands)
  • 8.5 hours – work (where they are short-staffed so demands and energy output are high)
  • 2 hours – getting ready for the day and settling down again, food preparation etc
  • 3 hours – visiting, caring for elderly and infirm parents and arranging care, appointments, admin. etc for them (her brother lives overseas so responsibility falls to her alone)
  • 1.5 hours – shopping and chores outside home
  • 1.5 hours – chores and admin. at home
  • 1 hour – travel between work, parents and home
  • 1.5 hours – for self

At the very time she needs to take extra care of herself to manage the external demands, she is exhausted by them.

You may think you haven’t got time to log your time, but as my favourite saying goes, if nothing changes, nothing changes and often by taking time to review what’s not working, we get a clearer picture as to what might help.

A work colleague who undertook this exercise discovered that as well as being a mum of two young children (and a dog!) and working full time, she was also doing 37 hours of housework (cooking, cleaning, laundry etc) a week!

She had not previously stopped to consider this, yet on completion of the time chart was able to get a cleaner and stop expecting herself to be more than a full time mum and employee! Furthermore, she has ceased having qualms about saying no to invitations, gatherings, visits or entertainment activities if she doesn’t REALLY want to go.

A nutritionist friend recounted the story of a client recovering from cancer who was hectically busy and being very self critical for not getting better fast enough. She also completed a time chart and realised there were no hours allocated to essential healing and quiet time.

She had struggled with feeling unable to spring out of bed and dash around the country taking up her old schedule again. When she went through her time chart hour by hour, there were very few things she enjoyed doing. Instead it was filled with ‘duties’ or things that she felt pressurised into doing or guilty for not doing.

Changing her attitude to how she could allocate her time was the start of a new, more pleasurable schedule, which allowed her to start healing properly.

We all tend to have unrealistic expectations about what we can achieve in a day and there is no doubt that being constantly rushed and pressurised is a great sanity remover, not to mention a drain on our overworked adrenals!

Over the next week, why not choose the path of sanity by creating a Time Chart. You might surprise yourself with what you discover and begin to see that your life does not necessarily need to be a race. You could opt for a better pace……

In the next blog we will look at tips and tricks for defining new priorities.

We would love to hear about your Time Chart revelations so do leave us questions or comments below.

We all know how to look after our physical health, but when it comes to looking after our mental health it can be difficult to know where to begin.

Luckily, my free 6 days to boost your mood plan starts next Monday. Each day you’ll receive an email with different mood-boosting tips – from diet and lifestyle to music and meditation.

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