Use Your Time Intentionally

With that title, do you think I’m going to talk about being more productive?  I’m certainly a fan of being as productive as possible and always striving to find ways to improve productivity.

But, that is not my point with this title.

It’s about being aware of how you’re using your time; of asking yourself periodically if you’re currently using your time in a way that you want to be.

Maybe the best example is a couple of weekends ago, my husband saw me sitting on the couch playing a game and he asked me “is this how you want to be spending your time?”  My answer was “yup.”  What he hadn’t been aware of was that I’d just stopped being productive and was taking a few minutes to relax before jumping into the next task.  I was using my time intentionally – since I had decided to take a break and play a couple of games.

In what felt like an occurrence of synchronicity, one of the sessions I attended at the NAPO conference this year, talked about having an “intention awareness.”  A couple of month’s prior, I’d started asking whether my husband and I were using our time “intentionally.”  It was a way to simply pay attention to how we were spending our time, and whether there were other things we needed or wanted to be doing.

You probably know, as I do, how easy it is to lose track of time.  I love Sudoku, and there are times when I sit down to play and the next thing I know, several hours have passed!  Eeekk!  That wasn’t what I wanted to be doing – at least not for that long.  I’ve had that happen on the other end of things, where I’m working on something around the house (or even with a client) and before I know it hours have passed.  It was “productive” time, but at least with the housework, was it what I needed or wanted to be spending all that time on?

It can be challenging to even remember to ask yourself the question about whether you’re spending time the way you want to – if it weren’t, you probably wouldn’t lose track of time at all.  It can be helpful to have someone else around to gently ask the question, as my husband did to me.  Yet, he’s gone all day and I’ve gotten in the habit of first – randomly asking myself, whenever it occurs to me.  Second, I use cues around the house, like when a plane goes overhead (which happens a lot) to stop and consider if I’m using my time in the way I want to be.

This second approach is actually what the session talked about – finding some ways to cue yourself to stop and think.  Ideally, it will be somewhat randomly and periodically throughout the day, since it’s something you want to think about more than once a day.  Even a timer that you continue to reset can help here.

I’m fascinated with time.  It never changes, yet it certainly feels like it does – our perceptions of time are erratic and inconsistent.  I’m amazed how easy it is to lose track of time – whether we’re being productive or goofing off.  Everyone I know, professionally or personally, seems at least a little discontented about the way they use their time.

Here’s a question for you – are you aware (and happy) with how you’re using your time?  I don’t believe we can ever be perfect, yet I do believe that there’s always room for improvement – are you ready to start asking yourself “is this an intentional use of my time?”

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  1. Pingback: Define Your Time | Sustainable Organizing, Milwaukee WI

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