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SOUCHERAY: Take time to plan your time

Did you know we only have 168 hours in each week? Did you think there were more like three hundred? I know I did. A few years ago, I decided to calculate how I was spending my time and figure out if I could rearrange things a bit so I felt less stressed. When I realized I only had 168 hours to work with, I was surprised. How could I possibly get everything done in that tiny amount of time?

I decided to put my activities on paper and see in black and white how I was spending my time. I started with sleep. I need at least seven hours a night, so that came first. Forty-nine hours. OK. That left me with one hundred and nineteen hours in the week.

I work at least fifty-five hours a week in my classroom. When I subtracted that number from my total, I now had sixty-four hours. Are you kidding, I thought? That's all I have left?

I figured out drive time, which is only about one hour per day, and I was down to fifty-nine hours. I take a walk outside for about thirty minutes, so I included three and a half hours and I was down to fifty-five and a half. You can see my time was dwindling quickly.

I figured time with my husband on our date, which is something we both value and look forward to each week. Another four hours, and I was down to about fifty hours. In these few left-over minutes each week, I have to eat, clean and do the daily chores, make the grocery list, go to the store, and make the meals. I have to make time for our son who is still at home, time to talk to our daughter on the phone, our son at college, my parents, in-laws, friends, and anything else left of importance in my life. You can see this was an intimidating and somewhat disheartening task.

What if I wanted to go back to school? Or take up a hobby? Or join a club of some sort? Where and when would I squeeze an extra few hours into my life? What do we do when our lives are crowded and busy with so many activities, commitments, and responsibilities? How do we make time for the most important things, and how do we know what these activities are?

It seems as if we are at a point in the life of the world when we must prioritize and figure out what is most important and put those things first. In order to prioritize, we must know what we value in life and get those things in the number one spot. These things must take precedence over everything else. When we have so many choices, desires, and needs, this can be challenging.

During the week ahead, take time and write out how you are spending your time. You may be surprised that the hour you spend on the computer each evening is precious time you could use to develop a skill or talent you have been putting off, such as learning to play the piano.

You may be surprised to realize that the hour you spend talking to a girlfriend on the phone every day could be used to go to the gym and take the kick boxing class you saw in the brochure last week. Or you may find watching TV to be relaxing, but that it is taking so much time every evening you could be using to take a course at Century College. You know, the one you've always been drawn to and have seen as an area of interest that may lead to a change of careers in the future.

As you can see, we have a limited amount of time. We have to use it wisely and carefully. As you think about the winter weeks ahead, ask yourself how you are spending your time and whether this is bringing you the good and enriching things in life you have always wanted. If your choices could be better, now is the time to make the changes necessary to help you focus on what you really want in life.