How we spend our time is really stressing us out as a society. We sourced 3 tips from time management experts that will help you get a handle on what you should spend more time on and what you shouldn’t waste your time with. The data we used comes from The American Time Use Survey by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics.
First, a little about the survey: The American Time Use Survey showed us that we spend most of our time working (8.7 hours/day), sleeping (7.7 hours/day), and far behind in third place, leisure and sports (2.6 hours/day).
Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and any snacking we do throughout the day only takes up about 1.1 hours, surprisingly. And household activities, like cleaning and laundry, add up to another 1.1 hours per day. People with children spend only about 1.3 hours each day caring for others in general.
There’s an hour and a half of unaccounted time simply labeled “Other”– I’m not sure what we’re up to during that time, but it’s possibly not anything productive. The point is, we’re feeling pressed for time, spending more time than we want on some things and not enough on others, and we’re feeling stressed because of it.
- Working and related activities: 8.7 hours
- Sleep: 7.7 hours
- Leisure and sports: 2.6 hours
- Household activities: 1.1 hours
- Eating and drinking: 1.1 hours
- Caring for Others: 1.3 hours
- Other: 1.5 hours
How can we change the damaging routines we’ve gotten so used to and start managing our time better? Susan Cullen of Quantum Learning shares her thoughts on the study below.
Expert Tip 1: Susan Cullen
“It’s interesting to note that watching TV was the leisure activity that occupied the most time. Only 21% of men and 16% of women participated in sports or exercise. Maybe that’s because we’re too tired after working all day and managing the household to want to get up off the couch? Focus on your most important priorities to make sure you’re never spreading yourself too thin to get those accomplished.”
Sometimes we don’t do a great job of keeping track of how we spend our time. If you don’t know what you’re spending time on, you don’t know where to make cuts and where to focus more time, an important aspect of time management. Clare Evans shares her tip for finding out how you’re spending your time right now below.
Expert Tip 2: Clare Evans
Ask yourself these questions to find out exactly how you’re spending your time each work week.
- When do you plan what you’re going to do today, this week, or this month?
- How do you prioritize your tasks?
- Do you usually finish what you plan to do each day?
- How do you keep interruptions from upsetting your work?
- When in the day/week do you get interrupted most?
- When in the day/week do you get interrupted least?
- Do you choose how to use your time, or do other people manage your time?
- Are you able to say no to your colleagues/boss?
- What tasks do you delay or put off?
- What tasks do you avoid completely?
- When is your most/least productive time of day?
Now that you’re more aware of how you’re spending your time each day, you can begin to change your focus and prioritize your time based on the results you want to achieve. Tony Robbins explains how to focus on the results you want below.
Expert Tip 3: Tony Robbins
1) What is it that I want?
2) What are the possible outcomes?
3) Which specific outcome am I trying to achieve?
“Focus on the results you are committed to, and you’ll find yourself consistently moving toward the result you’re after—and very often accomplishing them with a much shorter to-do list than you expected. A result is the target you are after, the specific measurable result or outcome that you want to achieve (not the activity to get it done, but the actual result you are after).”