We All Have the Same Time. How Are You Going to Spend Yours?

A friend of mine has spent most of his adult like “working” on weekends.

When I ask what he’s doing, he says doing taxes, cleaning up.  But really, should that take 2 full days every week?  For someone that wants to meet someone, purge his belongings and sell his house, he isn’t working towards any of those things staring at an Excel spreadsheet on a Sunday afternoon.

Another friend has spent the last couple of months complaining about a move that’s already happened.  Unhappy with the thought of moving, she plagued us with her bemoaning and now has been  focusing on the task of unpacking, cleaning, etc. instead of the excitement of being in a new place, starting fresh, etc.!

I am guilty as the next person.  It wasn’t until I thought about these two and their oblivion to what’s clearly important that I started to reassess what I’m doing and how I’m spending my time.  I have had goals on my list that I haven’t got around too because “I haven’t had the time,” just like the rest of the world.

My belief is that you make the time for what’s important to you.  Sometimes it is what is actually important and sometimes it’s just what you feel like doing, with little thought of what you should be doing.  I mean, sometimes I ignore all the working awaiting me on my desk and I go for a walk instead.  You can’t be going at full speed all of the time (but we do try, don’t we?).

It shouldn’t take a tragedy to wake us up out of our stupor, but often it takes the death of a loved one to shake us into realizing that we are here for a limited time – do we really want to spend it making the kitchen floor sparkle?!

It jolts you into reassessing how you spend your time.  Have you been working so much that you’ve let friendships slip?  Do you focus so much on everyone else’s needs that you haven’t done a single thing for yourself in months or even years?

Don’t wait for grief to take hold.  You can change your life right now.

Change is an ongoing, organic process that will develop over time as you do, so you can change as much as you want, as many times as you like.  It’s all up to you.  But don’t wait until it’s too late.

Here are some ways to help you determine the important things in life:

1. Write down your goals and dreams

Keep them in a place where you will constantly see them.  This will help keep them at the forefront of your mind and remind you of their importance to you.

2. Listen to what you talk about with friends and colleagues

Are you spending time complaining about lack of time or how bad things are?  Focus on the positive aspects of your life and this will translate to what you talk about and how you think.  It’s amazing what a difference this will make to you and those around you!

3. Look at your schedule and see where you could take some time for yourself

If you are spending much of the day driving kids back and forth from events, see if you can share this responsibility with other parents so that one day you do it, and the next, they drive or you do the drop offs in the mornings and someone else picks them up.  If you are on the board of 3 organizations, perhaps you could step down from one and make that an evening where you focus on you.

4. Do you say yes to everything and everyone?

It’s okay to say no to make time for yourself.  The notion that this is selfish is antiquated.  I mean, our ancestors did not have to deal with emails on our phones and working until 8 or 9 pm!

I hope that this helps you make the changes in your life that you need to for you, to do the things that are most important to you and to help you have the most meaningful and fulfilling life.

I’m revising my own list of goals, reassessing what I want to do and getting rid of the fillers/time-wasters/nay-sayers.

It feels so good to take charge like this!

Stephanie Dickison is the author of the recent book, The 30-Second Commute: A Non-Fiction Comedy About Writing & Working From Home, which covers her career as book, music and restaurant critic.  She has been a journalist for over a decade and now spends much of her time writing about travel, food, beauty, style and celebrities for various publications and websites.

When she’s not writing, she’s eating, cooking, organizing, filing, making lists in sumptuous notebooks (you must use your beautiful journals) and colour-coding her ever evolving calendar.

She is one of the few writers still using technology AND paper.  But at least her paper is organized into pretty file folders…