Sunday September 20, 2015

Take control of your time to get what you want

(Ian Cauthery)

Listen 9:45

If you're like most people, you have lots of "someday" items on your to-do list. Someday, you'll write that book. Someday, you'll learn a new language, or go to the gym every day. Right now, though, there just don't seem to be enough hours in a day.

At the beginning of 2015, Information Architect Abby Covert decided to tackle this problem. She wanted to see how she was really using her time, so that she could manage it better, and become the kind of person she wanted to be.

We tell each other, and ourselves, a lot of stories about how we use our time, but our actual knowledge of it is pretty limited. We allow time to sort of float by. - Abby Covert

So she created a spreadsheet to track how she was spending her time every day, and she's been keeping track for the nearly 9 months so far. She's posted the spreadsheet online for anyone to make a copy and use. Along the way she's learned a lot about how she uses - and misuses - her time.

"At the beginning of the year, if you asked me 'How much Netflix do you watch?' I would say 'a couple of hours a week,'" Covert explains. "In reality, I'm watching somewhere between 15 and 17 hours a week...the person that I would like to be, I feel like that's not her."

Abby Covert has written about what she's learned through this experiment, and she's come up with eight top tips for keeping time as much in your control as possible.

Listen to Abby's eight top tips for keeping time within your control:

A key to Covert's approach lies in thinking about time as a material, in the same way an artist might think of pen and paper as a material. "It's the single material that we personally can use to get what we want out of our life. And if we don't designate that material...we can feel like our life is slipping by."

At the same time, she thinks you should avoid being too hard on yourself. "You can't be perfect. We're all going to have bad days...allow[ing] yourself the flexibility to admit that perfection is not possible, but the progress towards the person you want to be actually is."

Abby Covert is speaking about time as a material at the Fluxible conference in Kitchener Ontario, which runs September 25-27.