Simplicity series: Analyzing our time (Part 5)


\"ManIn the last post, we tracked everything we did and the money we spent for one week. In this exercise, it’s time to analyze the time portion of your weekly habits. We will analyze how you spent your money in the next post.

1) Go through the log of activities and calculate how many hours you spent “working” during the tracking week. This will include things like doing laundry, making dinner, taking the kids to soccer practice and anything that was a responsibility time commitment.  What was your mood and general stress level like during these periods?  If you found your work week significantly higher when you included all your non-job related responsibilities, it could be useful for you to calculate and reflect on these separately.

There are 168 hours in a week (24 hours X 7 days). You can figure out the percentage of your time spent on an activity by dividing the hours spent on the activity by 168 hours and then multiplying that number by 100.

Ex. Let’s say you had 62 “working” hours this week. The calculation would be:

62 ÷ 168 = 0.369

Then you take the result of the above (0.369) and multiply it by 100. The calculation would be:

0.369 X 100 = 36.9

That would mean you spent 36.9 % of your time working that week.

2) Calculate how many hours you spent sleeping during the tracking week (and the percentage if you like). How many hours of sleep did you average a night? Did you wake feeling rested after each sleep or did you push snooze every morning? Did you have a deep sleep, or were you tossing and turning all night?  If you had a disrupted sleep, were there any particular things that kept awakening you (ie. Kids, pets, thinking too much about problems, health problems or pain)? Getting quality sleep is one of the most important factors in reducing your stress.

3) Calculate how many hours you spent doing things you really enjoyed or doing things that are high on your priorities list (and the percentage if you like).  Were there other things you would have liked to have done this week that you valued, but just couldn’t find the time for?

4) Calculate how many hours you spent doing “unproductive” or “unimportant” things (and the percentage if you like). This could be watching tv (unless that happens to be a priority of yours), waiting for a bus, or anything other than your responsibilities and sleeping time that is unimportant to you (ie. Not on your priorities list). Were these “time-wasters” avoidable or unavoidable? If they were avoidable, why did you choose to do them? Would you have felt more satisfied if you had spent that time on the things from #3 you couldn’t find the time for?

Now that the exercise is complete, reflect on it. Did you spend as much time as you thought you would on things that were important to you?  Did you spend more time working or doing avoidable unimportant things than you had expected?

Now take stock of your work and responsibility commitments and really think about them for a minute. How many hours would you like to work each week and how many hours do you really need to work each week to support yourself (and your dependents)? Is it possible to reduce your work week at all? Are your responsibility commitments in line with your value list? Is it possible to reduce any of your responsibility commitments that aren’t in line with your value list?

There are no “magic” percentages you should be striving for in each time category, but if you find that the majority of your time is spent on things you don’t prioritize or value, you should consider how you can change that in the future. You may find that at this point it is simply unfeasible for you to change your work and responsibility commitments—or maybe that it’s unnecessary. However, if you find that they are major stressors in your life, and changeable—then there may be some things you may really have to consider cutting from your life. You may need to learn to say “no” to extra stressors that are avoidable in your life (we will come back to this in a later post!). I’m not saying to quit your job—although some people do find that there are other ways for them to live quite happily once they simplify their life enough; but I am saying to consider whether your current job is in line with your priorities or not. If it’s not, perhaps you can consider a career or job that is more suitable to your values and take gradual steps in that direction.

There’s no need to drastically change your life right at this second. We will talk in later posts of how you can gradually direct your life to meet your priorities. For right now, just be aware of the time you are spending on things you don’t value.

Hang on to your journal because we are going to use the money tracking exercise in the next post.