Helping the Chronically Overworked Find Life Balance

The First Step To A Balanced Life Is a Two Minute Time Audit

My Corporate Idolatry Time Profile

Chapter 7:  Secure Your Identity Part 3

When I was working 90 hours a week, the last thing I had time to do was to reflect on my life. But if it had, it would have looked something like the pie chart to the left.

The time audit is a very simple way to bucket your time.  Our day can be divided into three categories: work, sleep and life (everything else). Time is a zero sum game.  When we spend time on one thing, it is time not spent on something else.  Here are three steps to conduct a two minute time audit for a single work day.

1. Calculate the number of hours you sleep. For the last week, what is the latest time you turned out the light? When did you turn on the light in the morning?  I say latest time because we tend to think if the ideal, not he specific.  Getting undressed, reading and brushing your teeth do not count as sleep time.  I count sex in this bucket because both are so wonderful, and both take place in bed.  Add in nap time.

2. Calculate the number of hours you work.  Commute time counts as work.  If you eat alone and think about work during meals, count 100% of that time as work.  If you ruminate about work when eating with other people, count 50% of that time towards work.  In fact, if you think about work, check email, or take a phone calls during an activity even once  count 50% of that time as work.

3. Calculate the life bucket using the following formula: 24 minus sleep minus work = life.   Our life bucket contains the basic activities of cooking, cleaning, running errands.

Jesus said “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”[i]  Our greatest treasure is time. How we spend our time tells us what our real values are.  And because you are reading this, you are the type of person who wants to have a balanced life.  And  you can in less than a year.

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[i] Matthew 6:21 http://bible.cc/matthew/6-21.htm

Why Time Management Is Not the Answer To Chronic Overwork

Chapter 7: Secure Your Identity Part 2

The first thing I tried to reduce my hours was a time management course taught by the American Management Association.  I was frantically busy and thought that by managing my time better, my issue would be solved.  It was a great class, and I learned two things.  I flew to New York City for the class, and was the only person with a high tech job.  But everyone in the class had the same personal story: my hobby used to be such and such, but I don’t have time for it anymore because of my job.  This was people in construction, high school yearbook sales and in the media.  My first lesson: it’s not just high tech or Silicon Valley with an overwork issue.  It’s everywhere.

The second thing I learned was to be more efficient.  Less procrastination, better goal setting, and better prioritization.  This class was good.  My life became better for a few months, but pretty soon I was just as busy.  It was a better planned busyness, but my life was once again out of control – all work and no play made Greg an out of shape and crabby boy.

Now, I understand why.  The overwork was a symptom, but was not the root cause.  The root cause was my corporate idolatry.  I had adopted and internalized a company-first value system.  The company was (unconsciously) the most important thing in my life.  So all of the time that I saved from greater efficiency was put back into the company.  Things started to change for me when I reconnected with people.  It came down to my values and priorities.

If you look at how you spend your time and make decisions, what are your priorities?  What is most important to you?

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