Have you ever asked yourself, “Where does the time go?” Of course you have. This was a post I had written many moons ago. Even though it was written for a different reason, when I read it I thought how pertinent it is today with the many challenges I’m facing.
Thomas Jefferson once said “I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.” To say I’ve been working very hard on my blog would be an understatement. The hard work is paying off with a good measure of success.
Where Does The Time Go?
I have never shied away from hard work. The Midwest work ethic was very well instilled in me from birth. In fact, one could almost agree that it is an inherent trait for many of us from that region. So if some work is good, more is better and a lot is better yet … right?
I do believe it to be true that hard work will give us much success. However, somewhere along the line there needs to be this thing called rest. Oprah Winfrey was quoted saying, “If you neglect to recharge your battery, it dies. And if you run full-speed ahead without stopping for water, you lose momentum to finish the race.”
When do we know that enough is enough and now is the time to take a break? I believe we instinctively know but ignore the signs; at least I can honestly say I do. What are the signs?
Here is my list:
- Withdrawing from spending time with friends. (My excuse: Too much work to do.)
- Feeling sick. (Due to poor eating habits, lack of exercise and little to no breaks.)
- Stopped exercising to make more time for work. (My excuse: Too much work to do.)
- Not sleeping as much as I should. (Processing too many things.)
- Fuzzy or buzzy brain. (We can only do so much.)
- Making stupid mistakes. (The effects of being overtired.)
- Overbooking appointments. (False belief that I am superhuman.)
- Can’t seem to talk about anything but my blog. (Yep, I’m obsessed and that’s boring as hell for the listener.)
- Trying to do too much in the time I have. (Research is now saying “multi-tasking” is a fallacy; I should listen.)
- Working harder not smarter. (Kind of says it all.)
- Missing important events. (Kind of says it all.)
- Feeling a sense of isolation. (Duh, and whose fault is that?)
- Procrastinate doing the household chores or responsibilities. (Causes problems with harmony at home.)
- Not taking the time to eat properly. (Fast food becomes king with “gobble and go” – not good.)
- Short tempered. (Due to being overworked, overtired and pushing too hard to reach an unreachable goal.)
- Spending all my waking hours on my blog. (All of the above.)
I do love the European model of 39 hours a week or 7.8 hours a day with a minimum of 8 weeks of holiday. They believe rested workers are productive workers. But I digress.
The fact is we only have 24 hours in the day. This is how I see the use of time in a day. Of those 24 hours, at least 8 hours needs to be in sleep. Then there comes the fueling of the body. We need to eat good food, not just anything that happens to be lying around. That takes us about 3 hours total if we do it properly, not the “gobble and go” method.
Working at a job or project is obvious but just how much time is enough. Let’s assign that time requirement as 8 hours. We can’t forget to include the maintenance of life such as household chores, personal care, exercise and financial duties or obligations, which will take about 2 hours.
One area we seem to miss is transportation time, going to and fro any activity, which takes about 1 hour (sometimes more if you have a long commute.). The last item is what I call mental health breaks, resting the mind and giving us the opportunity to ponder what it is we’re doing and germinate ideas, which should be around 2 hours.
Here is how it breaks down:
- 8 hours – sleep
- 8 hours – work or project
- 3 hours – fueling the body
- 2 hours – maintenance
- 2 hours – mental-health breaks
- 1 hour – transportation
- Totaling 24 hours
That leaves … 0 hours of free unassigned time.
I know what you’re thinking. “I don’t need to sleep that long. It doesn’t take me that much time to take care of myself.” So then what we wind up doing is reducing the time in many areas that provides for a balanced life and place it in our work and projects. When that happens we are then absent from life and are, generally speaking, not very easy or fun to be around. We often find ourselves thinking, “Where does the time go!?”
Where am I going with all this? I left the corporate world a few years ago, not by my choice. It was difficult because all my friends were tied to work. I had very few who I had not worked with or had known outside of work. ALL I did was work. So there I was with all this free time and no one to spend it with. Most, if not all of my friends (past colleagues) didn’t have time for me. I was now an outsider, superfluous to them and their (work) world. I couldn’t wait for my husband to come home from work because we would talk about his day giving me a sense and feeling of being connected.
Slowly I came to realize that I had very few friends. Most of the people I had called friends were really work associates. It was an unpleasant surprise. It took a while, but I was able to navigate my way through the transition to where I am today. That said, you would think I would have learned a few things along the way. I have to a point, but what I haven’t been able to change is my habit of squeezing time from my personal areas to provide me with time to work on my blog. To really learn how to balance work and life is my greatest personal challenge.
What have I learned from all this? When we start asking where the time goes, we need to take the time to think about what it is we’re doing, what it is we want to accomplish and lastly how we want to live our life. We only have one shot at it, so we need to find a way to do this wisely.
Have you ever uttered the phrase “Where does the time go?” What are some of the challenges you’ve faced with work life balance? What have been some of your surprises? What choices have you made to achieve that right balance?
Life’s journey continues…