Do You Have More Time Than You Think?

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Do you ever feel like there’s not enough time in your day / week to work a full-time job, devote quality time to your family, spend time with friends, hobbies, run errands, manage investments and so on…?

Every time I seem to ask someone if they’ve been busy, the answer is a resounding “YES!” Who doesn’t feel like they’re cramped for time? Obviously this is not a phenomenon exclusive to physicians who are well-known to work extended hours both in and out of training. Ask any mother, working or stay-at-home, and they’ll tell you there’s really no such thing as “off-time.”

Now combine those two, the physician mom, and forget it, I have no idea how they’re handling things. I give my physician wife and mother all the credit in the world for juggling it all.

Given this struggle, I’m always on the hunt to figure out better ways to manage elife. That’s what initially led me to the book, the 4-Hour Workweek, where Tim Ferriss preaches that you need to automate your life as much as possible, so you have more time for the things you love.

One of the readers of this blog recently suggested that I read the book, 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think, by Laura Vanderkam. I decided to pick it up for my current travels and although I’m not completely through it, it’s already given me some things to think about and I thought I’d share it for the busy soul, you.

168 hours equals the number of hours you have in a week. It equals 24 hours x 7 days. The idea of the book is simple – do you have any concept of how you’re spending that time and are you being deliberate about its usage? If you’re honest with yourself, it’s usually not “I don’t have time” but it’s really “it’s not a priority for me.”

The book asks you to do an accounting. I’ll do a real detailed log soon but here’s a rough sketch of my week:

Sleep – My ideal is 7 hours although I don’t always get it
Work – Averaging in the occasional call night / weekend
Commute – usually average 30 min each way
Meals – count a rushed breakfast and decent dinner, average over the week

  • Sleep –  7 hours / night x 7 days = 49 hours
  • Work – 10 hours / day x 5 days = 50 hours
  • Commute – 1 hour / day x 5 days = 5 hours
  • Eat meals – 2 hours / day x 7 days = 14 hours
  • Church – 3 hours on Sundays

Okay, so far that’s 121 hours. That leaves me with 47 hours left in the week, what?

On this blog I often mention that I’m hungry for more time to spend with loved ones doing the things I love. Well, outside of the current fixed (for now) variables above, looks like I have almost an average of 7 hours a days to do the things that matter to me. If I feel I struggle for quality time with my family or time to hit a five hour round of golf in a week, I must be filling my time with things that aren’t a priority for me.

Can I really say that I wish I had more time for my daughter if I average almost 7 hours a day of “free time?” Why can’t I find time to take of my body and hit the gym for an hour three times a week?

I’m going to take a legit log and see where the time goes. Am I watching too much TV, am I wasting too much time surfing the internet aimlessly, how much time am I spending on this blog, what other things am I possibly doing?

Yes, there are other time fillers that I haven’t mentioned that eat up your time like housework, errands, checking email, etc but that’s the point. What are the things that are killing my time and are they truly important or can I figure out a way to get rid of them or even outsource them? I guess it’s time for me to figure it out…

What’s your time use look like? I’m curious…

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