Last week I introduced the topic of values and shared an exercise you can do to identify your values. If you haven’t completed the exercise I encourage you to go back and actually do it. Yes, it’s that important. Life is so much easier and enjoyable when you are clear on your values. Remember the goal is to get yourself out of survival mode where you are constantly faced with compromising your values.
Now that you have your list of core values it’s time to do a time audit. I know a time audit doesn’t sound sexy but it’s absolutely necessary. Before we can make any changes we need to see how you are currently spending your time. Analyzing our schedule will allow us to see which of your values are being honored and which aren’t.
It doesn’t matter how you keep track of your daily schedule or “to do list”. I really love using pen and paper. There are lots of options. You just need to find a method of tracking your time that works for you.
Take a look at your schedule last week. Notice what you are spending your time. Now take out your list of values. Pick your top value and highlight or star each activity in your week that reflects it. Do this for each of your values.
I realize that analyzing your schedule hour by hour may seem tedious but I promise it is worth the effort. If you aren’t aware of what you spend your time, you will stay unconscious and stuck.
Notice if you feel any resistance around being honest with how you are spending your time.
You might also be noticing that you don’t plan and record everything you do in a day. If this is you, I invite you to record everything you do in a day for a week. This will give you an excellent snapshot of how you spend your time and energy.
After reviewing your schedule, did you notice any values that aren’t represented? A lot of women I know say they value their health but they don’t schedule in self-care on their calendar. I picked this as an example because health is my number #1 value. I know that when I don’t schedule in foundational pieces like sleep, movement and nutrition, I am not my best self. This also means my family suffers and I slip back into survival mode.
If I don’t have time in my schedule for my self-care it means that I’m too busy. Then it’s time to look at what activities are keeping me so busy. Do these activities reflect my core values? If the answer is no, I need to stop doing them.
If the answer happens to be yes, I need focus on prioritizing them because there are only 24 hours in a day. Being busy is a “junk value”. I know that my self worth isn’t measured by how productive I am. Society may want us to believe that but it’s not true.
White space in your schedule is a beautiful thing. If you value freedom like I do, this is important. I want the freedom to change my schedule and be spontaneous sometimes. I don’t need to plan every minute of the day.
I used to cram too many activities into the weekend to make sure that my values of joy and learning were represented. Now I pepper activities that bring me joy and allow me to learn during the week. Weekends now feel more spacious, rejuvenating and joyful because I have time for unstructured or spontaneous activities.
Another consequence of having white space in my schedule is more time for connecting with my family and friends. Connection is another one of my core values. I mean really, without connection it’s impossible to give and receive love.
Before doing a time audit, I felt rushed, overwhelmed, anxious, depressed and lonely. I believed there was never enough time to do all the things I “needed” to do to be a good mother, wife, daughter, friend and colleague.
What I thought needed to be in my schedule was crowding out what I wanted to be in my schedule. I would complain that there was never enough time. I also heard this reflected back to me when the most common answer to “How are you?” is, “Good, I’m so busy.”
If you want to retire your “busy badge”, take out your schedule, your list of core values and do a time audit.
I believe there is enough time for things that matter.
You only get one life. How are you going to spend it?
Reject the “junk values” and create a schedule and a life that reflects your values.
I want to hear about your time audit. What did you discover? What are you doing well? What do you need to get rid of? If you are struggling to even start a time audit, let me know. I would love to support you on your journey to take back your time.
Life Design Coach and Enneagram Teacher