We all have grandiose hopes and aspirations for healthy changes at the start of the year but why is it then that less than half of us actually stick with our changes? I believe the number one action holding people back is not making time in their routine for new behaviors. And when you factor in the reality that it takes up to 21 days for a new behavior to become a habit, we need to find a way to make these behaviors last. We’re all busy! I totally get that. I am super busy. But to be frank, it’s about priorities. Ultimately what is more important than your health and the health of your family. There is no magic pill for health and with your already full schedule these new practices are not going to just magically fit in to your busy life. You actually have to carve out time each week to implement these changes.
Creative Time Mapping
One of the most helpful exercises I ever did was map out my time. When I first did this exercise it completely changed how I approached my week and the stress I had around not having enough time. My Time Map helped to expose areas in my life that (quite frankly) I was wasting time. Once I identified these areas and streamlined my schedule I was able to find time for the things that mattered most. I continue to update my Time Map at least once or twice a year as responsibilities in my life change. Here’s how it works:
Step 1: Create a Weekly Schedule
You can approach this either electronically or with paper and pen; totally up to you. I personally like to do mine on an Excel sheet as I can play around with it and move blocks of time around more easily. Start by creating columns for each day of the week with the time you wake up and the time you go to bed; ideally mapping out around 8 hours for sleep.
Step 2: Block Off Set Hours
Block off the times that are non-negotiable; your work hours, time for commuting, standing appointments or meetings, etcetera.
Step 3: Organize Your Week
Now for the fun part. Filling in the time that is left. This is where you get to play around with how to fit in time for the activities in your life that matter the most to you. My recommendation is to start with activities that fill your cup. This is time spent on you, for self-care. When your cup is full you will be surprised to see how much energy is left to then spend on others. This exercise will also force you to simplify and streamline your To Do list in order to fit everything in to the time that is left. It might also help you off-load some of that work to others or to let go of what’s really not that important.
Start with time for meals, including time for shopping and cooking.
Then time for exercise, meditation, journaling, hobbies, etc. (aka “Me Time”)
Next time for others; your family, partner, friends.
Finally, the rest of your To Do list (cleaning, laundry, bills, etc)
Step 4: Test It Out
Finally you have to test it out. Give it a couple weeks and then re-assess. You will most likely have to fine-tune it a bit as you put it into action. Think of it as an evolving project and make adjustments as needed. With time your Time Map will evolve into a workable schedule that actually helps you fit in all the things that matter most to you. Here’s an example of one of my Time Maps:
Take Home Message
By taking a critical look at how you spend your time as well as simplifying your To Do list, you will be surprised to see that it is possible to make time in your life for your health and for the things that matter most to you. It takes time to create the life you want but it is absolutely possible! Start with some creative time mapping and watch the rest unfold. For more articles and inspiration like this, Join The Tribe. (this article was first published on 1/15/17)