ticking analog clock

Using My Time Wisely: 168 Hours (pt. 1)

This is a two-part blog post where I invite you to join me in two very different perspectives on how to use our time wisely. Part 1 (this post) is inspired by the book 168 hours and I focus on taking a critical look at how I actually spend my time. Part 2 will focus on what it looks like for my family to take a weekly Sabbath, taking inspiration from the book Sacred Rhythms.

I have always been a planner and organizer. I like to schedule my time and know in advance what I am doing for the day ahead. I don’t like to feel like I’m wasting my time. I get delight from achieving tasks, big or small.

I have been struggling for a long time with how to most efficiently use my time. No matter how meticulously I plan out my day, I can never seem to get it all done.

What is “it” you may ask? Well, I have my “must-do’s,” like working, taking care of my son, eating, sleeping, etc. And then I have my list of “I’d love to do these things if I had time” – if you’re familiar with The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, you may have seen this chart:

Time quadrant (7 Habits of Highly Effective People)

I find that I spend the majority of my time in Quadrants I and III, which are all the urgent tasks. Some urgent tasks are important, like taking care of my son or going to doctor’s appointments – but some are less important, and ultimately are just distractions (aka. checking email too often, taking phone calls, busywork, etc.)

Quadrant II is the “dream” quadrant. It’s all those things you want to make time for that easily get pushed to the side for the more urgent stuff. It takes intentionality and planning to live in Quadrant II.

For me, Quadrant II contains things like travel, exercise, writing, reading for fun, spiritual development, and relationships. These are certainly important, but if I don’t take time to do them, there are no immediate or terrible consequences.

Since having a child, (who is now 5 years old), I have found that I have to pick and choose which Quadrant II tasks to focus on. (Which really bothers me because I always felt like if I could just solve the time puzzle and schedule everything perfectly, I’d be able to do it all!) I have never been able to successfully do all my favorite Quad II tasks, I can usually manage to juggle about 3 at a time.

When exercise becomes a focus for me, I find it harder to make time to write. When I make writing a priority, (which usually means waking up early to do so), I find I’m too tired to workout. I’ve tried so many combinations and schedules, but have never figured out how to get all the plates spinning at the same time.

So I accepted defeat and just assumed that it couldn’t all be done, or at least couldn’t all be done well.

Then, I came across this book: 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think

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