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Learning to Use My Abundant Time

I missed my daughter’s end of school party and I don’t even feel a little guilty. Most of the other parents were there, but I was at work. My sister was there and sent me a video of the event, so I did get to see all the cuteness.

Until recently, this would have either sent me into a pool of pity or a lake of guilt. But today, I felt like I made a great choice.

I recently posted something on my Instagram Stories (follow me @camilajw) about this book, 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think and how it is reshaping the way I think about time. I noticed a few people then got the book and I’d love to get their impressions. There were certainly a few parts that didn’t apply to my life, but the overall message that we have more time than we think we have has really helped me stop operating in a scarcity mindset, but rather own the choices I make as I spend my 168 hours each week.

I have just completed my second weeklong time study using the toggl timer app. Basically, tracking 168 hours showed me what the author, Laura Vanderkam, said was true for most everyone. We have enough time. As a culture, we actually spend less hours actually working than we think we do. Generally, working parents spend as much focused time with their children as a parent who stays home with their child. We have enough leisure time and we don’t clean nearly as much as people once did.

What I personally found during my time study was that I had enough time to work, play with my daughter, garden, zone out in the bath, have an emotional break down, clean my house for a party, have two long one-on-one conversations, and host two social gatherings last week.

My biggest surprises: I can easily spend 3 hours a day in the car without realizing it, I spend over an hour in the bath most nights after Zoya goes to bed, and then I spend over an hour randomly on my phone once I get in bed before I go to sleep. I do have enough leisure time, but I don’t spend enough time letting my brain rest without books or podcasts playing. Oh, and even when I’m hosting a party that requires me to clean my house, I don’t spend more than 15 minutes a day on household chores. And remember, I’m a widowed mother. This isn’t because I have a partner doing half the work (though I did have a friend help with the party).

Time studies can always help you see where you are spending your time, but changing your mindset into think about life in 168 hour chunks, is also very valuable. It is the 168 hour mindset that made my choice easy today.

I have abundant time each week, but I do not have unlimited time. If I were just thinking about this morning, I would have said that I prioritize my daughter over my work, and skipped work. However, thinking of my week as a whole, skipping work this morning would have taken away from the hours this evening I spent laying on the swing with Zoya and digging holes for my roses. It also would have pushed my work into my weekend and taken some of our favorite time together.

So today, I didn’t feel guilty because I chose work over my child’s school party. I felt at peace, because I chose one on one time with my daughter over seeing my daughter at school.

God has provided enough time to live the life we are called to live and do the things we are called to do. When I say CALLED to do, I don’t mean called to DO. This isn’t about productivity, it is about using your given time wisely. God gave us 10 major commandments and the only ones that tell us to actively do something are to rest and to honor our parents. All of the others tell us what not to do.

When I track my time I feel blessed. I have time to lay on a swing and look at the sky. I have time to teach Zoya to read. If I spent 15 less minutes in the bath, I’d have time to keep my house clean. If I worked from home one day, I’d free up three hours to workout. I have time to grieve loss and I have time to pray for the grieving.

Apparently, today, getting out of the bath tub in a reasonable amount of time meant I have time to write.

CAVEAT: Time studies are only helpful, if you have a healthy sense of balance and priorities, if you understand that you need rest and recreation and were not created to perform and accomplish. You will not be loved more if you work harder and do better. If you see that you are actually working 60 hours and try to make it 70, you will hurt your life and your relationships. If you find out you are working on 20 hours and decide to push yourself to 30 hours, you are hurting your life and your relationships. Also, if you see you spend 9 hours in the bath and 1 hour reading to your child, you have to be grateful for the knowledge and start to tweak it to match your values; beating yourself up about it is a waste. Tracking your time can help you be purposeful about aligning your time with your priorities, but it will not fix broken priorities or a misplaced sense of worth.

Tell me if you have ever gotten to a point of feeling like you have abundant time? If have you done a time-study and tracked your time, what surprised you? Did it cause you to change anything?

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About Camila

Based in Atlanta, but from the mountains of North Carolina. New widow of a man from Iran. Mother of one precious girl. Anti-human trafficking expert. Sister to 16 siblings (Yes, some of are adopted). Daughter of God.

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