How to Rebalance Your Time for the Important Things in Life

“A hand holding a tiny white alarm clock” by Lukas Blazek on Unsplash

Using your time is like making an investment.

You are giving away your time to something else, in hope of some greater return.

However, problems arise when each and every one of us is bombarded 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with products that want our time.

Hey you, over here! All you need is 15 minutes to invest!

Before you know it, we’ve got 110 apps installed on our phone, 5 social media networks and 25 favourite TV shows each sucking up our time investments.

Looking purely at mobile, research back in 2016 showed users on average spent 300 minutes per day using their mobile phones.

No wonder so many of us end up thinking…

I wish I had more time for that!
Where is all my time going?!
Why am I wasting my time on that?
I’m going to stop watching this show or using that app — next week. I can’t right now, but next week — I swear.

The modern-day world we live in means there are more distractions than ever.

And, as plenty of us know, dodging those distractions en-masse is bloody difficult.

As I’ve tried to navigate my way around the distractions, and snatch back some of my time, I’ve found a few winners that have worked for me — and here they are.

1 — Look closely at what you’re spending your time on now.

Taking a hard look at what you’re currently spending your time on is a great place to start.

This is a key step in setting yourself up for the next few, yet is also the hardest because it requires being completely honest with yourself.

You need to be 100% honest with yourself, or you’re going to continue lying to yourself.

It took me a long time to get past this part, but there are tools out there to help out such as Moment for iOS. You don’t need to focus on the minutes and seconds as such, but instead on creating a rough time guide.

Jot down when one hour goes here, half an hour goes there.

How detailed should you get? That’s up to you. My motto was based on the idea above, which was enough to get a good grasp of my situation.

Over the course of the week, you’ll end up with a nice map of the time investments you’ve made.

2 — Break your time into groups

Once you’ve got an idea of how you currently spend your time, it’s time to break things down further.

Find a few categories that make sense for you. If you want to focus on how much idle time you spend swiping on Instagram or playing Clash of Clans, dedicate a category to phone usage.

Doing this will help give you more actionable outcomes than simply looking at a time diary.

If you’ve got 36 hours a week spent on your phone, you can then ask yourself — do I really want to be spending 21% of my week on my phone?

3 — Compare your current time situation with your desired time situation

After completing the first two steps, I realised I needed something to benchmark my current situation with.

I read a few posts on the internet about how to best spend your time, and quickly realised —

How I want to spend my time is completely different to how you may wish to spend your time.

Do you want to spend more time with family? More time out with friends? Generate some side income in your spare time?

Regardless of what you want to do, look at how you can fit that into your current situation.

For example, if you want to spend 5% of your week writing and you spend 21% of that week on your phone…

Rebalance that time!

Just keep in mind, the idea isn’t to fret about spending 5.4124% of your week writing, but to find a more equitable balance of how you spend time.

4 — Draw up your desired time ‘map’ and make it clear to yourself

After everything is said and done, it’s time to commit to a new plan.

Write down a plan that works for you, and keep it visible so that you can hold yourself accountable to it.

Whether it’s a pie chart, a diary, day planner or a bunch of notes — use the medium that works best for you.

I find it best on my desk, as I walk past and see it often and immediately think — I spent all that time doing that, am I now sticking true to this?

Thanks for reading!

Nathan Allsopp is a Product Manager, Freelance UI Designer and Content Creator from Sydney, Australia.