How to Magically Slow Down Time and Enjoy the Richness of Your Day
Time…It’s quite the trickster. When it comes to time, do you feel like you get the most of your days?
Think about it for a moment.
Do you feel like you’re squeezing the juice out of your life? Or do you feel like your days pass too quickly like pages of a book flapping wildly in the wind? For most of us, it’s the latter.
“Whoa. It’s March?! But it was just New Year’s Eve! Where does the time go?”
In our youth, we often want structured (read: boring) time to fly by. But as we get older, time sometimes seems to move faster than we’d like. Let me ask you a question: Do you know how you spend your days? If I were to ask you to write out in detail how you spent your time this past week, could you do It? I know I couldn’t. I can scarcely remember what I did yesterday, much less last week!
For most of us, life ends up being a vague series of repeated events punctuated by occasional highs and lows. Wouldn’t you rather sit squarely in the richness of your day, really drinking up each moment?
Do this for me: Grab a paper napkin or the back of an envelope or your journal and list out the ways you think you spend your time. Just list out major categories for now. Here are some category examples: sleeping, eating, reading, walking the dog, cooking, scrolling through social media, watching television, meditating, volunteering, exercising, visiting with your loved ones, gardening, checking email, doctor’s appointments, and cleaning.
Now… How do you want to spend your time? Make another list. Here are some other examples: writing that novel, drawing, dancing, traveling, stargazing, snuggling, decluttering, woodworking, doing Pilates, sailing, exploring, learning a second language, learning a third language, fostering a child, fostering a pet, mentoring, dating.
An eye-opening exercise I suggest to my clients is to take a week and make an inventory of your life in terms of time. During a typical week, write down in a small notebook how you spend all your time. I suggest putting a rubber band around your wrist to help you remember to write down each task and each segment of time.
Here’s a short example of a few hours from a normal weekday for me (starting at midnight):
Sleep: 7 hours
Coffee and news: 30 minutes
Feed and walk the dogs: 30 minutes
Cold water plunge: 3 freezing minutes
Breakfast: 15 minutes
Meditation: 10 minutes
Read and journal: 15 minutes
Shower and dress for the day: 40 minutes
Then I start my workday.
Once you’ve got your time tracked for a full week, take a look at the numbers. (If most of your days are roughly the same, you can track your time for one weekday and one weekend day and use that data.) You can even get nerdy–I love nerdy tracking!–and make a spreadsheet outlining how you spend your time. Once you’ve completed your time tracking, take a look at it. How do you feel about your numbers?
Are there any categories that you feel are too time-heavy?
Are there any categories that you wish you had spent more time on?
Are there any categories that are completely missing?
And here’s the biggest question: Are you spending your time in a way that lines up with your values? Here’s where it gets fun! You get to PLAY with your time. Want to brush up on your French? Where could you decrease 30 minutes a day and add a study French time segment?
Want to connect with friends and family more richly? Perhaps there’s an hour that could be used for regular coffee, tea, or Zoom dates instead? Have your days begun to feel repetitive like the movie Groundhog Day? How could you spend even thirty minutes here and there to mix things up?
- You could try meditating by candlelight rather than watching television at night.
- Or you could write a letter to a friend instead of sending an email or talking on the phone.
- Maybe you could bake a cake or bread from scratch.
- Or you could take your pup on a walk in a new neighborhood.
Habits, routines, rhythms are all beautiful and steady ways to spend a day. And—it’s easy to allow those daily rhythms to quickly transition from vibrancy and aliveness into a feeling of sleepwalking through life. Days can fly by (or drag on in a vaguely unsatisfying way) when we stop living consciously.
When you’ve started living your days in line with your values, there’s a certain satisfying fullness that comes from each hour spent. Taking the time to stop, write down an activity, track the time it takes (or the time you spend on it), will not only help you realize how much delicious time there is in a day, but just how much could be allocated to activities that make you feel alive!
If you want an even more visual representation of where your time (aka your life hours) is going, you can enter this information into Excel or Numbers and use the pie chart feature.
You’ll get a real look at how you think you spend your time, segmented out in different colored slices. I recommend tracking your time for a number of weeks as you make any adjustments. If you want, you can also take notes on how you felt at the end of each week. Notice how spending time on things that line up with your values affects your mood, or vice versa.
If you want help tracking your time, I’ve created a free template for you to use to get started. You can get yours here.
Try it out and then shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear how it’s making a difference in your life.