The biggest lesson I am learning from my time management book is how much control I have over how I spend my time and what is the narrative I tell myself about how my time is spent. In the latter part of that phrase lies a lot of power.
What story am I telling myself about how my time is spent? Is it accurate? Is it honest? Is it true when I look at a chart of how my week is spent? or is it based on opinions or ideals?
If I have 168 hours in a week, and I sleep eight hours a night (56 hours), and work 40 hours a week, that leaves me with 72 hours per week… that is three whole days of leisure time. Have you ever broken your week down like that? Those of you who know me, know that I don’t have a job that requires 40 hours per week… (I mean sometimes cleaning FEELS like a never ending, 24/7 kinda torture…. ) But honestly I have a lot of time in my week that I get to decide how to use it. So what is the story I am telling myself about how my time is used?
I realized that this story has changed. The more honest I become with myself the different story I start to tell. But it is really easy to get caught up in the self importance busyness of life. In fact, it took a talk from one of the leaders of my church to even reflect and evaluate this narrative.
In 2012, Elder Uchtdorf spoke about resolutions and regrets, he said “Isn’t it true that we often get so busy? And, sad to say, we even wear our busyness as a badge of honor, as though being busy, by itself, was an accomplishment or sign of a superior life.
I think of Jesus Christ, and His short life … I have tried to imagine Him bustling between meetings or multitasking to get a list of urgent things accomplished.
I can’t see it.
Instead I see the compassionate and caring Son of God purposefully living each day. When He interacted with those around Him, they felt important and loved. He knew the infinite value of the people He met. He blessed them, ministered to them. He lifted them up, healed them. He gave them the precious gift of His time.”
Wow, I think I was happily wearing busyness as a badge of honor. If I had no time between shofering kids. cooking meals, working, relationships etc. I was somehow living a fuller better life. What a lie. It was exhausting and unsustainable. But it was a great tactic for avoiding the honesty that would enter my mind in quieter times. Sometimes it was easier to push through life full steam then reflect on how this was making me feel and what benefit it truly was to me or my family. Also, if it was in line with goals I wanted to achieve.
Maybe it wasn’t a badge of honor, as much as it was an empty way of trying to find esteem. It was to justify how important I was and to gain respect… even if I couldn’t identify who the respect was from.
In slowing down, in finding out what really matters, in evaluating where my time was going it was a hard road. There were lots of things that needed to change, but a busy life doesn’t leave much time for self evaluation. I knew I wanted joy and my busyness was not creating any kind of sustainable joy.
Elder Nelson said this conference, “the joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives.When the focus of our lives is on God’s plan of salvation, .. and Jesus Christ and His gospel, we can feel joy regardless of what is happening—or not happening—in our lives. “
President Nelson continues, “If we look to the world and follow its formulas for happiness,27 we will never know joy.” If you follow that footnote you will find this little gem. “The world teaches that the purchase of things will bring joy. And if that doesn’t work, buy more! It also teaches that you can sin your way to joy. And if that doesn’t work, sin more! The promise is that at the end of every hedonistic rainbow is a pot of joy. Not true!”
As we slow down, as we reflect on what will bring us the most joy, may we realize the joy that can come through honestly evaluating how our time is spent… and what we might change to live a fuller life without regrets.
I haven’t totally found true joy… but I am definitely progressing and finding a lot more meaning, love and joy in the life I live now. Also, when I start to yearn for joy, I pray that Heavenly Father will assist me in changing my focus to His plan, His son, and His gospel.
I would encourage you to keep an honest, accurate, account of your life for one week, 168 hours. Then reflect and evaluate how you are allotting your time. Does it bring you joy? Could some simple changes greatly increase your yield of joy?