Have you ever taken the time to examine where your time actually goes? I can’t say that I have, but I can tell you that a lot of my “free time” is spent making this site the best I think it can be.
There’s also the job, exercising, family outings, movies, traveling, Angry Birds, lawn mowing, snow shoveling, beer brewing… I’m never short on things to do, but I do feel as though I’m short on time. Hence, the desire to retire early.
Today’s post originally appeared on its author’s site, Passive Income MD.
Are You as Pressed for Time as You Think?
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…? [PoF: Yes, yes, and YES!]
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.
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Should You Be Thinking About Time Differently?
Given this struggle, I’m always on the hunt to figure out better ways to manage my life. 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. It’s a notion that I’ve taken to heart and that has led me to figure out how to offload things I don’t enjoy and outsource them as much as possible.
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.”
Time to Do Some Accounting
The book asks you to do some accounting. I’ll do a real detailed log soon but here’s a rough sketch of my week:
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?
Dude, Where’s My Time?
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 day 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 kids 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?
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? Do you feel there’s not enough time in your day?
14 thoughts on “Are You as Pressed for Time as You Think?”
I wrote a bit about outsourcing tasks to save time. It costs money, but having a landscaper to cut our lawn, cleaning people to clean our home, and online grocery shopping has given us back hours every week. If I can only find a chauffer to drive our kids to their activities, that would give back more time!
When I retired slightly early I cut my work from 50 hours to 8-16 hours a week. So no I rarely get that too busy feeling anymore, it is nice!
I remember being bored as a kid – those were the days.
There is a tendency to associate business with importance, or motivation. I tend to fall into a trap of always thinking I should be doing something too.
I schedule out tasks in Todoist everyday – usually trying to limit to 3 tasks. That has felt right for feeling accomplished but not stressed. When I miss those and the following day suddenly has 6 things to do, that’s when I feel I do t have time. It’s when life happens, or I decide to do something do something else and now I need to replan.
Completely agree on the priority issue. I prioritize about five things (sleep, work, gym, volunteer, family/friend upkeep), have a medium bucket of several more (cleaning, crafting, cooking, reading), and pretty much let everything else go until I can fit it in. More importantly, I mentally let it go – so I don’t stress about it. Learning to say ‘no’ to external requests and obligations that don’t fit your priorities helps a lot.
I think scheduling and efficiency are also key to using time wisely. For example, if you make a habit of putting things away after you use them and cleaning up after yourself as you go, ‘cleaning’ on a weekly basis doesn’t take as much time. Same with grouping errands, shopping with a list, etc.
That old adage about a little bit of planning…. is true
I’m totally guilty of saying the phrase “I don’t have time” way too much. And some how life just keeps getting busier and harder to find the time to do the things I need to do and also what I want to do. Time management has been a work in progress for many months now as I tweak my schedule and learn specifically where my time is actually going. Besides tracking your time and delegating, is there anything else that you have found to be helpful with time management?
Good post Dr. POF. A wise man once told me early in my career “Nobody really has a time problem, what they have is a priority problem”. Truer words were seldom said, I think. This was 20 years ago, he was my Boss (one of the best I had) and he retired within 2 years of being promoted to Vice President, at age 52 (to the surprise of many). He is now living a great life in a beachfront house on the Carolina coast. I only wished I worked for him longer – I would’ve learned sooner about life priorities and FIRE, before that acronym was even born!
That’s what I love to hear, words of wisdom that illuminate and success stories that inspire thru great examples.
I love the idea of budgeting time. I haven’t tried it, but I think I’ll give it a shot (may make a good blog post?). I suspect that, very much like tracking my money, if I tracked exactly where I am spending my time, I would be shocked and appalled by the amount of waste.
Sounds uplifting doesn’t it?
On the bright side, all that waste means there is lots of potential to be more efficient and free up some extra time.
Very interesting to approach time in that way. Essentially should create a budget for time just like we do finances.
I think the goal of every FIRE walker is to gain more time. It is important to plan for what that extra time is going to be used to. Hence why people stress why it is important to retire to something rather than from something.
Time is the one thing that we know is finite and unfortunately don’t know what each of us is alloted. So have to make the most of what you have now
Mixed feelings about that book. It more or less started me down my path to FIRE before I even knew what FIRE was. Haven’t found a product to pawn off on people like Ferriss did – even though our absolutely vapid laws on supplements is a wonderful opportunity to profit.
I struggle with outsourcing since it means I have too much going on to begin with. The one thing we’ve outsourced in a major way these past few years is childcare. When we’d rather be spending more time with the kids, someone else gets the call, so we can go to work. Outsourcing is a necessary evil but one I hope to avoid after ER. Shoot. Some of my best blog post ideas pop up while mowing the lawn and ironing shirts. 🙂
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I found it interesting and thought provoking. I’m a pgy3 in an outpatient specialty with 3 young kids and a working spouse. I feel like I have enough time for the things that matter. I read, exercise and see my kids as much as I want most days. I sleep 7-8h most nights. It’s really important (especially for women) to say no to commitments that aren’t important or rewarding. I avoid committees, task forces and meetings in general as much as possible.
Time is the great equalizer. Everyone gets the same 24 hours yet some seem to get so much more accomplished. I found the book “Essentialism” great to learn how to say no to things and to learn to focus more on meaningful things.
I also just finished the book “Why We Sleep” and will have a review coming out. The news is not good for those getting fewer than 8 hours. Yes, even if you get 7 hrs and think that’s good enough it’s not. That one hour less has detrimental effects and the clinical evidence is abundant. So I target 8 hours or more. Sleep for me is a definite priority.
I sleep 11 hours some days and 5 hours other days… Is that bad or does it even out?!
I’m no doctor nor do I play one on TV, so I would recommend you read the book “Why We Sleep” to get your answer. It’s complex but fascinating.
But the 11 is better than the 5 for sure 🙂