Time Well Spent? How to Effectively Manage the Most Valuable Resource
Submitted by Laurie Veillette
Many consider time to be the most valuable resource on Earth. We can’t reclaim the time we’ve spent and even the richest can’t buy more of it. How we spend our time reflects what we prioritize but, unfortunately, not always what we really value. At the end of your life, what do you think your use of time will reflect? What would you like it to reflect? Below I’ve outlined several steps for maximizing your time and spending it on what matters most.
Consider your values. What is important to you? What adds meaning, satisfaction, and fulfillment to your life? These questions can serve as a guide when considering how you might like to budget your time. If you’re not sure what your values are, check out this listby Dr. Russ Harris.
Determine how you are actually using your time. Believe it or not, we’re not great at guesstimating this and often overestimate just how busy we are. I suggest filling out a 24-hour week schedule (like this one) to get a sense of your time consumption. Add in as much detail as you can, including tasks like food preparation, waiting (lines, traffic), hygiene, tidying up, child and/or animal care, and time scrolling through social media or watching TV.
Examine and assess. Having completed your 24-hour week schedule, you should have a better understanding of your time use and perhaps even identified precious, available space in your day or week. What priorities does this week reflect? Are there aspects of your time management you would like to change? If so…
Plan and create change. Plan out your next week on a blank 24-hour week schedule by filling in allmandatory commitments and generally unavoidable tasks (e.g., work, commutes, child pick-up, appointments, sleep, meal prep and meals). Identify spaces on this schedule where you can reserve time for a valued activity – no moment too brief! Block out and protect these times as you would a work meeting or doctor’s appointment.
Additional time management recommendations:
Be flexible and self-compassionate: S*** happens and you’re human
Don’t procrastinate – Be proactive: If possible, get an early start on tasks
Plan for inconveniences and delays (e.g., lines, traffic, small talk, low energy days)
Get creative: Exercise on breaks, advance meal prep, coordinate responsibilities with others
Stay organized: Use lists, calendars, reminders – whatever system works best for you
Remember that self-care is not selfish: It’s a gift to those who love us and need us on our A game
Re-examine and re-assess your time management as needed: Burn out, chronic exhaustion, and overwhelm may be signs that it’s time to check in
If you or someone you know is struggling, please reach out for help. These are two available resources: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 Crisis text line: 741741
Laurie Veillette, PsyDCCL Board Member
Clinical health psychologist. Specialized training in health psychology and integrated care.
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