Where does the time go? No, really, where DOES my time go?

I’m not asking that question in the another-month-has-come-and-gone, time-flies-when-you’re-having-fun, where-did-my-baby-girl-go sort of way.

[Although, SIDE NOTE, getting a Carter’s catalog in the mail this week – and then realizing that my kiddo no longer fits in their adorable clothes – pretty much did me in. Mainly because I love Carter’s clothes, though, not because I’m sad Annalyn is growing up. I love the age she is right now, but those clothes?! Yeah, that’s what had me throwing the catalog on the table and wailing in despair. Or something like that.]

I’m on the verge of – once again – making some major changes, and I’m anxious. Not about the changes themselves (although, YES, but that’s another post altogether), but about whether or not I’ll make the most of a new schedule, a new list of priorities.

As stressful and difficult as change is, I don’t want it to be in vain. I don’t want to make some big, hard changes only to feel just as overwhelmed, chaotic and unproductive as I do now.

So I decided to do a time audit of my life – you know, examine how I use my time, how long it takes to do things, where I’m wasting time, and so on.

I’m kidding about that wasting time part. I can’t even face that.

But I did write down every single thing I do in a week and estimated how long each task should take. I tried to balance reality with the ideal, which is easier said than done when it comes to line items like “exercise” and “laundry.”

[Actually, SIDE NOTE, it’s been so long since I maintained a good routine of doing laundry that I really have no idea how much time it would take me each day to stay caught up!]

If you assume eight hours of sleep each night (this is the ideal, not the realistic), that leaves 112 hours each week to fill. And it turns out it’s pretty easy to fill up that time.

At first, my time used added up to 110.5 hours – and that was without any time for writing (outside of blogging). THAT is simply not acceptable, so I recalculated a few things (i.e. Lowered the amount of time to spend on things like laundry. Again with the laundry!) and found room for six hours a week of writing.

I even found enough wiggle room to have 30 minutes of unassigned time each day.

Ummm . . . WAIT. Just 30 minutes? Wow. No wonder I’m not accomplishing much. Even without facing my large amounts of wasted time, I know I’m letting more than half an hour slip through my hands each day!

Of course, I have to keep in mind that some tasks take longer than I expect, while others take less time. And, most importantly when my heart starts racing at the thought of every minute being scheduled except 30 short ones, several things can – and do – happen simultaneously.

No, I can’t exercise WHILE I shower (I wish.) or answer emails while I eat dinner with my family (I could. But it would break my “no screens at dinner” rule. The one I made up. Yeah.). But some things can be done at the same time.

One thing that was interesting was tallying up how many hours I spend each week on myself versus on work or on my family. That meant I had to define “time spent on myself,” which was an interesting process in itself. And then, when faced with confirmation that yes, I DO spend a lot of time on my family and our home, I had to decide how to feel about that.

(I’m still working on that. I want to feel only gratitude – for the family, for the home, for the blessings of it all. But I’ll be honest. I still feel some resentment and general “I’m not your maid”-ness.)

I’m not finished evaluating my time, but I believe it’s a good way to start this new phase of my life. I think jumping into a transition blindly and assuming everything will just fall into place and work out would mean, for me, that plenty of bad habits or poor time management choices would fall into place and next to nothing at all would work out. Being intentional about what I do and when I do it is a better plan for me.

Oh, by the way, that “when I do it” part? I’m not quite ready to talk about that yet. Mainly because, as I mentioned on Twitter the other night, I’m coming to the realization that I can no longer write at night. Still a night owl, I’m not physically tired then, but my brain is DONE by the time I get Annalyn in bed.

Please, don’t tell me about so-and-so who got up in the middle of the night to write brilliant books. My poor, hates-mornings heart can’t take it just yet. I’m warming up to this idea, but I’m not there yet. I’ll keep you posted.

Have you ever done a time audit on your life? Where do you spend the most time?
{And how long do you spend on laundry each week??}

The gorgeous clock in my photos is from DaySpring. It’s part of the Redeemed collection, which I love, because part of my goal in this whole practice of time auditing is to make more of the time God has given me – to REDEEM THE TIME.

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