One of my favorite sayings is, “We can’t manage time. We can only manage ourselves.” Yet we keep trying to organize our time as though we can slow it down and get more out of a day than is actually possible. Before we can make changes in how we spend our time, we need to know exactly how we currently use it.

One way to get a clear, visual perspective on our time, is to use the Target Worksheet linked here.

Fill in each target’s ring with all the things that make up your life such as activities, habits, relationships, or events that you do each day, week, month, or year. What are the things you do regularly. Who are the people in your life and how often do you interact with them. Try to be as detailed as possible. Think of everything that influences and is part of your life.

Here are some suggestions to get you started:    work, walk dog, yoga, gym, coffee, ice cream, meditate, journal, read, hike, bike ride, drink, go to movies, go on a date, music, dinner out, shopping, clean, email, social media, travel, vacation, cook, craft, paint, watch tv, children, family, friends, jog, nails

Next, evaluate. Are some of your daily habits needing to be reduced to weekly or monthly? Maybe you go to the gym weekly but want to make this a daily habit? Draw arrows to indicate how you would like to spend your time for each item you listed. This activity visually represents how you spend your time and can offer some invaluable insight. The target will help you to prioritize your time by showing you the areas that need changing.

It’s time to make some changes. Think about your priorities and make your “target” reflect your personal values. Think of the target as sort of a budget for your time.

Begin with your relationships. Are the people in your life in the correct ring on the target? Do you need to spend more time or less time with each one? How can you do that? Perhaps, you might give up a “girl’s night” in order to have a “date night.”

Now, look at your indulgences and habits. Is a daily Starbucks helping you reach your financial plans? How much time is spent watching tv? Would you prefer to spend that time on something else?

Continue with the rest of your listed items. You can process your choices by journaling or talking with a friend. Take some time to ponder your target worksheet.
Make your changes slowly, one small step each week until you are spending your time the way you want.

The hardest part of this exercise is eliminating things we enjoy doing, to make room for those things that are beneficial for us (like exercising). We all have the same amount of time, just 24 hours a day. When we learn to manage ourselves, we will be able to use our 24 hours in a way that is best for us.

I would love to hear if this exercise helped you as much as it helped me!

Featured photo by Ocean Ng on Unsplash.