When you look at how you spend your time, does it reflect your priorities?

Given that we all only have 168 hours a week, it would seem logical that we would choose to spend these hours on what matters to us most. But is this really the case?

Start tracking your time – either with Toggl or Calendar, and also write down your priorities. Do they directly correlate?

In an ideal world, we would indeed spend our precious time on the most relevant activities. We would dedicate large chunks of time to improving our health and well-being, spending quality time with our loved ones and investing on our own personal growth.

What gets in the way?

  • We function on auto pilot.

If we are used to spending up to two hours per day on answering emails even though it is not our most important task, we will gravitate towards that amount of time.

If we are in the habit of turning on the television every time we come home from work, and binge watching our favourite shows on Netflix, then we will continue to do so. Even if we might feel it is more important for us to hit the gym.

To break this pattern, we first need to become aware of this auto-pilot and detect which habits and patterns we wish to change.

  • We are all junkies

We all addicted to dopamine, and all the other wonderful hormones that make us feel great. This is not an issue in and of itself. The means through which we get our dopamine boost are what makes all the difference.

If you get that high from a 2hour cardio workout, great. But what if you get that feeling every time you scroll through Instagram, or receive a new notification, or eat junk food, or watch Netflix? Then, you will go back to these habits repeatedly to get that dopamine hit!

What can be done? Dopamine detox – eliminate all high dopamine habits for several days to lower the dependency to these habits. Then replace each habit with one that you would prefer to be doing, that is aligned with your priorities.

  • Lack of clarity

If you don’t take the time to reflect on your priorities and what you value most, then it is very difficult to manage your time effectively.

Very few people take the time to look at their life, and ponder about the most important aspects of their life. It is only by investing real quality time to look into that Pandora’s box, that you will find what matters and how you want to be spending your time.

  • Fear

You might be at a stage where you know what your priorities are but taking action is scary. Maybe you have realised you want to work part time, so that you can have more quality time with your family. Or maybe you have become aware that health is a number one priority but you have never exercised in your life and you are afraid of being ridiculous, or injuring yourself.

To overcome such fears, one needs to fully align with the long-term vision. This creates greater motivation and can be useful to overcome such fears. Also realising the time wasted on unimportant things can be a powerful trigger for growth.

  • Complacency

Perhaps the most common reason why people do not align their time with their priorities is complacency. They are used to living life at a certain rhythm. It is not totally fulfilling but they are contented. They do not see the benefits in changing their routine. The effort needed to put in place new habits, reflect on priorities, and improve themselves seems both daunting and too out of reach. Why, they wonder, should I do anything?

What happens here is that generally this leads to guilt and regret in the long term. On the moment, they might not feel like it is a necessity but as the years trickle by, they suddenly realise that they wasted precious hours at the office on weekends instead of with their family, or that they are too out of shape to enjoy their life because they never exercised. In some cases, they can go through mid-life crisis or periods of depression as nothing in their life is aligned with their true desires.

How can you avoid this happening? Be proactive – go through your priorities and start to align how you spend your time – and your money and energy- with what you really want in life & in business.

Thank you for reading,