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How To Spend Your Time On What Matters

How you spend your time reveals what matters most to you.

Or at least it should.

But often we spend time doing things that, on reflection, don’t really matter a whole lot.

Watching television.

Scrolling Facebook.

Gossiping at work.

We know we all have a limited about of time. So when we spend it doing these things, what we’re really saying is, for example, television matters more to me than talking to my friends.

Or starting that business you’ve always wanted to create.

Or calling your mum.

That isn’t to say you can’t watch television or scroll Facebook or whatever. But be aware what you’re giving up to do so.

Time passes whether you’re aware of it or not. So take a step back and ask yourself if the things you’re doing are really worthy of your time.

Because, as much as we’d like to, we can’t make time or save time. Time is not a renewable resource and we can’t bank it to earn interest back later.

Where does your time go?

If you tracked every minute of your day – just one day – would you be happy with what it revealed about you? Or is there a disconnect between what you say is important and how you spend your time?

In 2017 we want to encourage you to be more discerning with your time. Treat it as if it is a finite, precious commodity. One that can’t be replaced when gone, and can’t be saved in a vault or manufactured in a lab.

How to spend time on what matters

If you’re determined to spend your time doing what matters, you first have to figure out what it is that matters. Take out your journal and get planning.

Reflect on what really matters to you

Spend 30 minutes writing down the people, activities and moments that really matter to you. Your family, your career, your friendships, your health. All those things. Get specific. Why do those things matter to you?

Track your time for a day

Next, it’s time to track how you really spend your time. When asked, people often underestimate the time they spend doing things like watching television or staring at their phone. They also overestimate how much time they spend working, cleaning and sleeping. So it’s clear we’re not really aware how we spend our time.

Set a reminder on your phone to go off every 45 minutes. Every time your alarm goes off, write down everything you did during that time. Don’t think about it and don’t try to change what you’d normally do. Just observe and record.

Review how you spend your time vs what matters

Once you have a good sense how you actually spend your time, go back to the first exercise and ask yourself if how what you really do each day matches with what matters.

Note down anything you’d like to remove and anything you’d like to add in. This is not about totally changing your life. It’s just a chance to remind ourselves that we are in control of much of how we spend our time

Eliminate the clutter

This is about removing both the physical and mental clutter that slows you down and wastes your time.

This step will be different for anyone but may include:

  • Do you spend too much time sorting out your wardrobe? Embrace a capsule wardrobe and spend less time figuring out what to wear each day.
  • If you spend a lot of time trying to find things in your home, can you donate the things you really don’t need? This has the added bonus of giving you more space and time to enjoy the things you really like in your home.
  • Likewise, if you’re constantly trying to find computer files or links on your computer, go through and tidy/delete. Cancel any accounts you don’t use (or use too much). You can also install blockers on your web browser to block certain sites and certain times in the day to stop yourself spending too much time on them (where looking at you, Facebook).

Replace and reflect

Once you’ve removed those things you no longer want to spend time on, fill that time with things that matter to you.

This can be hard at first. Our old habits – switching on the TV as soon as you walk through the door, scrolling Facebook while at to dinner – can be hard to turn off. But if you’re conscious of your behaviour, and go back to reflect on your list of what matters to you, eventually you’ll find yourself spending your time more mindfully.


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