I truly want to practice intentional living, so I often deliberately think about what I’m doing with my twenty-four hours each day. In spite of that, I sometimes fail miserably at achieving my ultimate goal: being fully present and spending my time in ways that best reflect who I desire to be.
To more consciously decide how to live well, we have to understand how we use our time. I’ve said (and I’m sure many of you have too), “I have no idea how this day flew by” or “I can’t believe that this week/month/year is already over”.
So, let’s start the process of identifying what we do, so that we can move into “living with intention”.
You’ll begin by analyzing how you’re using the 168 hours that you’re gifted with each week.
- Start by listing the things you do for one week. Yes, this will add another task to your over-filled plate, but once you get a visual of how you spend your life, you’ll be equipped to make better choices. If you have a pretty inconsistent schedule (like traveling a lot for business) you may have to chart your activity for a few weeks.
- After you’re done with your list for a week (or a few weeks), tally how much time you devote to each activity. For instance, you may sleep for 35 hours and watch TV for 15 hours each week.
- Next, you’ll transfer what you’re doing into “blocks” (for example, “Physical Care”), so that when you say, “I can’t believe spring is already over”, you’ll at least know how you spent that season.
The log that you make during this process will be “charted” into your Blocks of Time Sheet, so that you have a visual reminder of how you’re spending your time. Through reevaluation and prioritization, you may be able to make some changes that get you closer to your “optimal” lifestyle.
Twelve “Blocks of Time”
The ways you spend your blocks time will depend on your place and stage in life, your passions and beliefs, and your responsibilities. Twelve is an important number, so we’ll work with twelve blocks. Some of the blocks below may not apply to your particular lifestyle. Others—like sleeping and self-care—apply to all of us. So, as you read on, substitute what is applicable to your life.
- Prayer, Spirituality, Meditation, Silence
faith community involvement, time with your Higher Power
actual sleep, not lying in bed working, or reading, or watching TV
- Family and Closest Friends
biological and non-biological “family”, pets that live with you, parenting, grandparenting, time with dear friends, meaningful conversations, laughter, shared experiences
- Giving Back and Reaching Out
volunteerism, charities, helping others, sending cards or notes, making phone calls
- Physical Care
eating, showering/bathing, grooming—haircuts, makeup, manicures, shaving, etc.
- Knowledge—Reading and Writing
reading for pleasure, work, or growth; journaling, daydreaming on paper
- Home Care
laundry, dishes, cooking, cleaning, repairs, paying bills
- Health Maintenance and Improvement
exercise, researching healthy eating, supplements, doctors’ appointments
a stress-free weekend away, anything (healthy) that helps you “unwind”
walking, hiking, exploring, just being in our amazing world
- Activities and Hobbies
singing in a choir, being on a bowling league, building model airplanes
- Income Producing
the time you spend—including commuting, and when you’re “off” but still “connected”—on earning a living
A Note on The Income Producing Block
“Income-Producing” is last on the list, not because it’s least important, but because I seldom hear, “I love what I do for a living”, or “I feel fulfilled in my job”. It does happen, but it’s rare.
I did a very informal survey asking, “If you work outside the home because you need to, would you quit if you could afford to do so?”
Of the currently employed, full-time, respondents,
24% would not quit their full-time jobs (mostly teachers, self-employed or folks in “helping” or spiritual careers)
76% would quit their full-time jobs.
Pretty telling, right?
There are folks who literally “grew up with silver spoons in their mouths”, or “married well” and never needed to work for a living. There are those who inherited, or earned, large sums of money and retired early. There are those who have been “underemployed” or denied employment for many reasons. And, there are countless people who simply “put in their time” so they can afford to pay their bills.
The bottom line is that many people wish they would not have to spend their lives doing something they don’t want to do. Yep, I know that’s not new, but the fact that a big block of life is spent doing it is sad. So, if what you do to generate income is something you genuinely enjoy, that’s a gift in itself!
The Next Step
We’ll work on this together in the coming weeks. For now, start with keeping track of how you’re spending your days. After all, if we don’t know where we’re spending our time, we can’t really live with intention!
We’ll move onto the charting later, and I’ll share with you what my blocks of time look like (we’re all works in progress!)
©peace full home®/intentional living