How To Best Manage Our Time For Less Stress

With all the hustle and bustle of modern living, it’s a wonder how we get anything done at all. In this age of minimum wage and maximum costs, maintaining a healthy work/life balance is hard enough, before finding extra time for your partner, family, and friends. Of course, on top of all that, there are the things we ‘want’, or ‘wish,’ to be able to do and be better at. Sadly, these are often the things that take the worse hit of them all, and we go about our lives from expectation to expectation, never finding that all important time to express ourselves and work on our passions.

But what if we could juggle all that important stuff, while working on personal projects and skills, and still have time for relaxing, movies, and friends? Have you ever seen the video where some dude puts rocks, pebbles, sand, and beer in a jar, to demonstrate how best to use our time? Well it’s a good watch, and it will serve as a good primer before jumping into the thick of this post.

Watched it? Good! So you can see how a simple shift in our priorities can instantly turn our life around. Time is the one currency in the world we can’t earn back. It slowly dwindles down until eventually, there’s none left. While we can throw around a large amount of our pounds and dollars each weekend, knowing that come Monday we’re back to earning more, perhaps invest a little in ourselves or put it to work to earn more of it, time is not expendable. So how we invest it is important.

How we use our time determines whether we are happy and fulfilled on our deathbeds, or miserable and filled with regret. Would you be glad that you caught every show on Netflix, and never let your friends share a status without being the first to like it? Or would you be happier to know that you rose to the top of your field, always helped put a smile on the faces of others, had amazing experiences with your friends and family, and lived an active life filled with success and adventure?

You see, a lot of the things that we stress over, are directly caused by the amount of time we spend doing the little, enjoyable things in life, rather than focusing on the larger issues and commitments. The enjoyability isn’t enough to outweigh the stress, and we become overwhelmed as a result of our own procrastination. But if we take a second to fit in all those big responsibilities first, we see that we can still fit in all the small stuff around it, with less resistance and stress at that!

Today I just wanted to take a minute to share with you that small piece of advice. It seems obvious, but in practice, you’ll likely be surprised at how wrong you have your life structured. I know I was. Grab a pen now and write down all the things that you like doing, want to do, have to do, and wish you could do.

Your list should look like this:

-Work/financial goal
-Read more books
-See my family
-Go out with my friends
-Take the kids for a walk
-Get my book published
-Maintain a weight training program
-Watch anime
-Check out Haunting on Hill House
-Meditate

Now that you’ve written down all your likes, wants, and shoulds, I want you to assign each one a priority. Either Rock, pebble, or sand. Rocks are larger tasks that require a great degree of focus and time, and will ultimately enhance your way of life. Pebbles are still important, but require much less of a time commitment, and sand items are the fun little things you like to do. Then reorder them with rocks first, pebbles below, and sand at the bottom.

Rocks

-Work/Financial Goal
-Publish a book

Pebbles

-Take the kids for walks
-Maintain a weight training program
-See my family
-Meditate daily

Sand

-Read more books
-Go out with my friends
-Watch anime
-Check out Haunting on Hill House

Now that we have everything structured and where it needs to be, lets have a think about how we can squeeze all of this into a week.

168 hours in a week, of which 56 hours should be spent sleeping. This leaves us 112 hours to play with.

Let’s say that work takes up 40 hours, we’re left with 72.

Of those 72 hours, we want to commit a good 20 hours on our big side goal. In this example it’s publishing a book. That includes creative writing practice, courses, writing, editing, networking, and everything else to do with that particular goal.

Right, there’s the rocks out the way. Now we’re left with 52 hours. 7 hours spent walking with the kids, and 3 hours spent maintaining a weight-training program takes away another 10. Boom, 42 hours left. At this point we’re sleeping well, working hard, progressing towards a huge goal, staying fit, and spending time active with the kids.

Of these 42 hours, we’ll spend 10 of them with the family, and 5 with friends. Why not? We’ve got lots of time… These are our refreshing bursts, the things that make it all worthwhile. Our relationships and connections outside of work, outside of the stresses of life. These are the things that make us smile.

Still, we have 27 hours left in the week. And you really have no way to pay all the bills, work on your passion, keep yourself fit, spend time with the family, and enjoy a couple movies here and there?

If you spot anything in your life that is demanding too much time, then you need to do something to bring it back in to a better balance. But that’s a different post altogether…

Now of course these numbers and priorities will be different for everyone. Some of you have degrees to work on, dissertations to write, school papers to grade during half term, a network of hundreds of employees to run, or any variable thereafter. Still, by balancing the priorities and reorganising them by order of rocks, pebbles, and sand, I’m confident you can live a happy, fulfilling life, so that when the moment comes where sadly you have reached your end, you do so smiling and satisfied.

How do you find time to balance your day? Have you ever tried adjusting your priorities and seeing where you can fit everything? It’s always a surprising and enlightening exercise.

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About Gary Holdaway

A multi genre author of short stories and novels, writing a curious mix of quick online reads and lifestyle posts.

4 Responses

  1. What a great post, (and a great video by the way…I really liked the way that jar served as a metaphor for your life…and how you were constantly tricked in thinking the jar is full). But it’s true. I think one of the most heard sayings by pretty much everyone is always: I wish there was more time in a day. Weekends always seem to fly by way too fast (case in point for me there are only about 4 hours left in the day lol), but yeah…there always seems to be way too little time. So, this post makes a lot of sense, that’s for sure! Thanks for sharing this one 😊

    Liked by 1 person

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