Taking inventory of time

I am back from Japan and in my absence, Hamburg went from showing the first signs of spring when I left, to becoming the lush green city that it is for more than half of the year.  The cherry tree in my yard had both bloomed and lost its flowers in my absence and my lawn was in desperate need of mowing. As I looked at my dog, Chloe, who greeted me with her usual enthusiasm, the sun highlighted the grey on her face I was taken to thinking about how quickly time passes. The seasons seem to come and go at an increasing pace each year but I don’t wonder where the time has gone.  So much has happened in the eleven years since Chloe was a puppy. If there is one thing I have become increasingly aware of it is how I spend my time. 

Many people keep track of their finances or how they spend their money and if you are paid by the hour you will probably keep track of how many hours you spend at work. When our time is given a monetary value then we track it closely but who keeps track of how they spend the rest of their time? Maybe it’s time to give this some consideration.  Of course, I am not recommending that you put everyone on the clock.  The value of moments when you are doing what you love or spending time with people who are important to you cannot be measured in currency. However, if you find that your life is very busy but you are not feeling fulfilled then it may be time for you to take stock of how you are filling your days. 

When I am working on time management with a client I often remind them that it is never a matter of not enough time.  We all have the same amount of hours in the day and none of us can earn or buy more time.  All we can do is be more aware of how we spend our time and make better choices. I like to use the Eisenhower Matrix to help people evaluate how they spend their time. This helps to define what is urgent and important and what is not. How much time do you spend on things that do not contribute to your happiness?  This does not mean we need to spend all of our free time relaxing or being selfish.  Perhaps it would be better to ask: does how you spend your time give you satisfaction? How satisfying is begin entertained, shopping or surfing the internet? Things that make you grow like challenges, helping others and personal relationships can be very satisfying and so can your means of earning a living.  

I don’t expect every minute of every day to be filled with constant growth, learning and excitement but I would encourage people to take stock of how they are spending their days. Do you work too much? How much of your time outside of work feels like it is spent doing something worthwhile? Only you can answer this question.  Everyone has different expectations for life and is fulfilled by different experiences.  If you spent your week purchasing life experiences maybe you would take inventory of what you had bought on a regular basis.  Try this once in a while.  Take inventory of how you have spent your biggest blocks of time. This kind of reflection can help you fill your life with more satisfaction and happiness.