Ahh, it’s that time of year again, when my birthday is looming just around the corner. Now, I should lead by saying that I do not dread birthdays, I am actually just really grateful for them. That said, they do make me stop for a moment and take the pulse of my current life and check to see if adjustments need to be made.
It occurred to me while writing this that I have a very specific set of numbers that I keep in front of me at all times. It’s on my phone, on my pantry door and in every journal that I am working from. If I know you in real life and we have ever discussed time management, then you have likely been subjected to my explanation of these numbers.
It’s all about the 168 guys and gals. Wait, what? What the heck is 168? It’s the number of hours in every single week. I don’t care where you are on the globe, what month of the year that it is or anything else. We all have 168 hours per week as of 12:00 AM on every Sunday. There are exactly 168 hours, or 10,080 minutes per week, every week.
During everyone’s week, we all have commitments that we have to keep, friends to visit, jobs to work, meals to prepare, offices to commute to and so much more. The thing with time is that it is a constant in an ever changing world. If you know what you are working with, you can be much wiser with how you spend or invest your time. Time is one of those things where ignorance is not bliss.
The thing that I love about this system that I use is that you can adjust it to fit your lifestyle, but the fundamental tenants are the same for every single person. It’s just that some people spend more time doing certain things than others. So, let’s look at the numbers.
How Did You Get To 168 Hours?
24 Hours In A Day x 60 Minutes In Each Hour: 1,440 Minutes Per Day
1,440 Minutes Per Day x 7 Days In A Week: 10,080 Minutes Per Week
10,080 Minutes Per Week/60 Minutes In An Hour: 168 Hours Per Week
I break time down into seven categories; Resting, Working, Fitness, Food, Community, Growth and Management. I am going to give you some examples of each and a general explanation about what belongs in each category.
What Are The Categories?
Rest: This is the amount of time that you spend with your eyes shut, not responding to text messages, not playing on Facebook and just recharging your body and mind. Some people can get by on 6 hours, while others require up to 8. I personally have always felt best when I rest for 7 hours per night and my math below is based on 7 hours. It also includes any activities where you are not doing anything else, but resting and just generally vegging out. Things like watching a movie, watching youtube videos, getting a massage would all qualify. The point is that in this category, you are not doing anything for anyone but you. You are rebuilding, restoring and replenishing yourself. If you are doing something like reading a book that is meant to help you grow as a person (self help, business, etc) then that would go in the Growth category below. However, if you were reading Harry Potter just because you love to escape into fantasy, then you would put that here in the Rest category.
Work: This is anything that you do for a living, to try to grow your career, to look for work, to increase the value of your personal brand, to receive payment for services, etc. In other words, this is not spending time on hobbies. This is any and all time that you spend of professional development. If you are a student, then studying is your current job, so this is where you would put that time. The average work week in the United States, where I live, is 40 hours, but I use 42 hours in my math below, because I am accounting for that time when you are just getting to work or preparing to leave work. All of that time is being spent at work, so I include it in this category.
Fitness: This is all of the time that you spend actually doing your workouts, logging your workouts, preparing for your workouts and stretching after your workouts. I include the time that it takes you to prepare for your workouts and keep track of them, along with your actual workouts, because any workout enthusiast knows that this can be several hours per week. This category does not include your time commuting to the gym, as you will see all of that included in the final category at the bottom.
Food: This is one where most people spend far too much time. Here in America, our whole culture seems to revolve around food. This, undoubtedly contributes to our obesity rate and a whole slew of other problems. Food is not meant to take over your life. Food is fuel. It is nothing more than that. We glorify food and turn it into our therapists and we indulge on cheeseburgers when we are sad or overly happy. We use it as comfort food to accomplish so many other things that food was never meant to do. I am not saying that food is not important, because it absolutely is. I am saying that understanding the role that food should play in your daily life can really help you to save a lot of time. Obviously, family gatherings and holidays are a whole different ball of wax, but we are talking about everyday life here. This category should include the amount of time that it takes you to prepare (as in microwave or heat up) your food and eat it. Assuming that we should eat roughly 5 times per day and that each of those meals should take roughly 30 minutes to warm and consume, that’s 2.5 hours per day. That is the logic for my math below. Conversely, if you only eat 3 times per day, but you go out for each meal, then use whatever numbers work for you.
Community: This category should contain any and all time that you spend connecting with others (dogs, babies, neighbors, friends, children, etc). Being in community is healthy. It is not healthy for us to spend so much time at the gym or the office that we become isolated. That is unhealthy. However, like all things, if you do not make it a priority, it’s easy to allow this to happen, so plan for your community time and keep yourself emotionally and mentally well balanced. Some examples would include; time spent on Facebook, watching YouTube videos (to a point and especially if you are part of a YouTube community), church, volunteering, reading your children a bedtime story, visiting with friends and family and more.
Growth: This is one of the most straightforward categories that should be very easy to use. When I say growth, I am talking about personal growth. That can include learning a new language, taking up a new hobby, learning to cook a new meal, reading a book and so much more. Growing as human beings is something that is vastly underrated. When people stop growing, they become stagnant, bored, unsatisfied with life. It’s hard to force yourself out of your comfort zone, but the benefits are well documented. Learning something new can help sick people to feel an improvement in how the feel physically, help depressed people come out of a bad time and can keep your mind sharp and young.
Management: I think most people would probably call this ‘maintenance’ rather than ‘management’, but maintenance is just an unattractive word. It makes people think of unpleasant emotions, so I use the word Management, because that makes people feel empowered, as if they are in control. It’s your time. You are in control of it. This management category includes the sometimes wonderful and sometimes mundane tasks that are required by human beings to thrive in life. Some examples include; commuting to work, taking children to extra curricular activities, grocery shopping, meal prep, cleaning the house, doing the laundry, paying bills and so much more.
That should help to provide you with a pretty structured framework for what is happening to your time. If you think that you have something that doesn’t fit into one of these categories, please leave it in the comments below. For now, assuming that we have covered all of our basis, as I can fit all of my time spent into one of the categories above, let’s do some basic math.
How Much Time Should I Spend On Each Category? (My Current Personal Plan)
Rest: 34%: 57 Total Hours Per Week
Work: 25%: 42 Total Hours Per Week
Fitness: 7%: 12 Total Hours Per Week
Food: 11%: 19 Total Hours Per Week
Community: 6%: 10 Total Hours Per Week
Growth: 5%: 8 Total Hours Per Week
Maintenance: 12%: 20 Hours Per Week
100%: 168 Hours Total
The, the, that’s all folks! If you are like me, you will look at those numbers and think, “No way!” You will, can and should double check my math just so that you know that I am not pulling a fast one on you. Trust me, the numbers don’t lie. The first time I looked at this a few years back, I reran the numbers because I just couldn’t believe it.
These are the numbers that I currently run my personal schedule based upon. You may shift your numbers around any way that suits you. The point is to be aware of the time that you have so that you are more careful and intentional about how you spend or invest your time.
If you want to run the math, just take 168 and multiply by the category percentage that is listed above. That will help you to arrive at your own numbers too.
Have you ever met someone who seems to have more time than you. They don’t. They have just figured out that time is short, that’s it’s a commodity like anything else and that there is a limited supply, so they are more careful about what they do with their time.
Another important thing to look at is to consider a typical day using these numbers so that you can see that this is in fact how most of your days are spent. Let’s do that.
What Does A Typical Day Look Like? Starting From Midnight….
Rest (7 Hours)
Eat breakfast, workout, shower, get ready and commute to the office (2.5 Hours)
Work (8.5 Hours)
Commute Home, Prepare Your Dinner, Eat, Laundry, Dishes, Watch a Show, Etc (4 Hours)
Spend Focused Time With Children/Spouse or Call Or Visit A Friend (1.5 Hour)
Read A Book (30 Minutes)
24 Hours Total
Yup, that’s a wrap folks. Cut, print, check the gate, because it’s tomorrow. That’s what an average day looks like. In the example above, I pushed a lot of items together instead of separating them by category just so that you could get a general idea of how fast time goes in a day.
The example above is based on a typical work day, but here is the good news. On the weekends, you get an extra 16 hours in your days (Saturday and Sunday) to spend any way that you like, because you don’t have to go to work. If you are like me, you will see very quickly that if you are careful about how you spend your ‘free time’ then you can make more time for yourself during the work week. For example, if you get the laundry done, grocery shopping and meal prep done and pay all the bills during the weekend, then you will have extra time when Monday rolls around.
One of the biggest ways that you can save yourself time during the week is meal prep. You can save so much time and money by simply adopting the practice of preparing your meals in advance.
The whole point of this blog post was to showcase how quickly time slips away. It’s not sad. It’s just a fact. It’s life. You can’t create time, nor can you buy it, but if you are careful about how you spend it, you can leave yourself time to go back and get an advanced degree, take up a new hobby or whatever you like.
Final 3 Thoughts:
- You will notice that as you become more consistent about certain ways of spending your time, that other areas of your time will change as well. For example, if you become very consistent about your workout times, you will spend less time ‘socializing’ (read….drinking with your buddies), because you will value your results more than the constant repetition that is frequently associated with hanging out at bars and clubs.
- If you want to spend less time at work, you really need to focus on the Growth category. Figuring out ways to increase your revenue streams, will naturally mean you have to work less. Then, you may take that time and spend it on whatever you like.
- It’s important to make time for every single one of the categories above. It’s healthy and human to need human connection, to want to be fit and healthy, to continually grow as a person and to have a purpose to our work. You will find that so many of life’s problems could be solved by simply adjusting the way that you spend your time. Take the husband who works too much and never connects with his family and it ultimately ends in divorce. Take the fitness obsessed girl who never socializes because her whole life revolves around food and fitness and then she burns out one day, because she ‘misses her life’. Life is not meant to be stuffed into one of these categories. It’s meant to be diverse, fun, challenging, somewhat predictable and hopefully exciting because it’s filled with laughter and love.
Hey, by the way, if you know anyone who always says that they were doing this or that to kill time, please tell them that I will take their extra time if they do not want it. Thanks guys, your’e the best. 🙂
I hope you found this helpful. Make your own chart. Just go old school and grab a notebook and a pen and consider how you spend your time, where you are and where you want to be. Now that you have the numbers, it should be pretty easy to at least identify when you are overinvesting in one category and also to allocate your time to the categories that are important to you during this chapter of your life. I created a quick little PDF that you may download and print out use to get your own numbers.
This is one of the greatest life secrets that I have ever learned and I hope that it connects with you in a meaningful way. Thanks for spending some time with me. See you around the blogosphere.