As I mentioned in my previous post, habits affect everything we do. They are behaviors we keep in place because we get a benefit in some way.
But habits and behaviors have consequences. They might make us feel good in the moment but have a negative long-term cost.
To make habits work for you, it is important to know which ones keep you from maximizing your time and efforts.
For example, you may decide that this is a good time for you to go back to school and get an advanced degree or training. Before you do, it is helpful to know how you currently use your time and what you do on a regular basis.
- What wasted time can be redirected?
- What current habits would interfere with completing your course work?
Do a quick test. For one day, record what you do, starting with the time you get up to when you go to bed.
Take a piece of lined paper and put on each line a time of day starting from when you get up in the morning until you go to bed at night. During the day, record what you do in each time period.
- What is your morning routine?
- How long did it take to get ready for work and head out the door?
- If you work at home, when did you start, take breaks and finish for the day? If you are retired but want to accomplish more, keep a record of everything you do in a day.
- What time did you return home after work? Did you make any stops along the way?
- What were your dinnertime routines?
- How did you spend your evening? Record time spent on the phone, relaxing in front of the TV or on social media, etc. Here is where we often lose track of time.
- Do you have a regular bed time, and do you follow it?
While recording the specifics of how we spend our time, we are looking for patterns of behavior and habits that are governing our life. It is helpful to extend this recording exercise for a week to get a more complete picture of how you use your time.
Here are some ways habits may be affecting your life:
- Always thinking of reasons why you can’t do something
- Relaxation is conditioned by how I am feeling in the moment
- Time with family is hit-and-miss whenever everyone is around – there are no schedules
- Chores are done only when I can’t stand the mess any longer
- I would rather do something fun than what needs to be done
- I’ll do it tomorrow – today I want to play
- I continue to spend time with others who don’t self-regulate or self-discipline
- I operate on a “feel good in the moment” rather than a scheduled time frame
- I have a time set to complete daily chores
- I know what needs to be done within a week, such as laundry, shopping, preparing for work, etc.
- I have a schedule for daily chores which I follow fairly consistently
- I am aware of long-term chores, such as spring yard clean up, getting the car serviced, etc. and have a monthly calendar to remind me
- I have set aside specific down times to relax, enjoy doing things that are fun, be with my family or doing something creative
- My time allows me to be spontaneous when I want to be and I can adjust my schedules to meet unexpected interruptions
- Being in charge of my time is freeing and allows many options
This exercise is for the sole purpose of helping you make some lifestyle decisions that can impact future goals important to you. It is not designed to put in place a rigid form of time management, but simply to expand the possibilities of choices you want to make.
Next week we will go through establishing habits and routines that are right for your goals.
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