A few weeks ago I was listening to Curtis McHale’s podcast, The Smart Business Show. In this particular episode (forgive me I don’t have the acutal episode) Curtis was talking about prioritising his time in his business. He spoke a single sentence that stood out for me.
I don’t choose to use my time for that.
How we spend our time is a choice we make every day, and for most people, they make a terrible decision when it comes to spending time.
Instead of reading a book, we might choose to thumb through their phone for hours on end.
Instead of taking a nap, we might choose to watch another hour of television.
Instead of doing their job, we might choose to surf the internet aimlessly for a twenty minutes.
It got me thinking about what I choose to do with my time.
You can’t be continually plugged in and always working; it’s just not healthy. If you rest on your laurels for most of the day, then there’s little getting done. There’s a balance between the two, and it’s finding that balance that is important.
To get that balance you need to identify how you spend your typical day. I spend my days typically doing one of three things.
Working, relaxing and resting.
Work, rest and play? Almost. I think there’s a crossover to work and play that can sometime’s mean the same thing. Also, I relax more than I play, well I do now that I am not in my twenties. Relaxing encompasses more necessary activities that are needed to survive a very fast-paced world.
My freelance work means that I am often at my desk building web applications for clients. The job is excellent and enjoyable. It can be stressful at times, but it’s what I love to do, and it pays the bills.
Working doesn’t stop there though. There are other points in the day when I’m working either physically or mentally.
It might be my morning exercises which I do to stay fit.
It might be walking Ethan around the golf course helping him practice.
It might be a 30-minute session on the turbo trainer.
It might be working on a side-product for 30 minutes.
While most people don’t view these as traditional forms of work, I think they are. You are still working on a physical and mental level. As long as it involves either or both of these, then it’s work for me.
Spending time with the family, golfing, reading, gaming, watching television and cooking are all things that I find relaxing. Anything that doesn’t involve exerting myself on a physical or mental is relaxing.
I’m a family first kind of guy. I like to think that I spend a healthy amount of time with my family. Supporting the boys through their activities and clubs and enjoying family trips and doing stuff together is essential.
When I’m relaxing, there’s no physical or mental exertion needed and the time I’m spending relaxing is enjoyable and guilt-free.
It’s important to note here that some activities should be limited.
I’ve been watching The Crown on Netflix. It has taken me a month to watch about six episodes. Sure I could have watched the whole series in a week, but by limiting my time, I can watch the entire series at a rate that doesn’t screw up my typical day and sacrifice any other commitments I have.
I try and keep as active as possible through the day, but it’s all for nothing if I don’t have the energy levels to get through the day. That means getting a half decent amount of sleep each night. That means getting to bed at a half decent hour. Sounds boring, but it’s surprisingly effective. And I have it on excellent authority that it does wonders for my grumpy moods in the morning!
I’m also starting to find as well that on the odd weekend I need more time for resting. Forty winks? Absolutely. I’m not the same guy I was twenty years ago, and resting becomes an essential part of the week.
It’s all about awareness
When it comes to using your time, we all have downfalls. I’m not perfect, but I am aware of the things that are weak uses of my time. And although I might start these wasteful activities, they don’t last any longer than a few minutes.
I tend to procrastinate when I am stressed which makes me end up not doing what I’m supposed to do. In times like this, I can find myself surfing away on the internet. After a couple of minutes though I recognise that this is the wrong behaviour and I start getting my head back into work again.
Perhaps the most important thing though is the following:
I choose not to use my time for idle staring at a screen.
In an age where screens are practically everywhere, it can be hard to find the distance from screens. Thankfully we’re programmed to be able to make our own decisions. I think it’s enough that you recognise that idling your time on a screen is a wrong use of your time.
As long as you realise the danger and act on it, then you’ll find that you’re spending less time just staring at a screen. It’s all about awareness.
Using your time wisely is an essential lesson to learn.
How do you want to remember the way you spent the day?
Idly thumbing through timelines or getting the work done and spending time with those around you?
I guarantee that the latter is the choice for a better quality of living.