Using Your Time Effectively


How often do you stop to take a moment and evaluate how effectively you have been using your time? We all have the same 24 hours in a day. 

Hard to fathom that someone like Bill Gates has that same period of time to accomplish what he does in a single day that us mere mortals are allotted, but its true. 

I recently started evaluating my own time usage and it has led to some eye opening realizations that I need to better structure how I'm using the hours of each day. 

With that in mind, I’ve been working on myself with full effort and sincerity. 

One simple addition to my week to week habits has been that I am reading more books! 

My wife and I just started an excellent book by Rachel Hollis, "Girl Stop Apologizing!" 

Naturally we got our copy from Amazon as we've become accustomed to the ease and convenience of their site versus wondering to the store (quite relevant to the effective time usage discussion!) 

While Rachel Hollis' book is definitely more directed at women, its still been a good window into how women process events in their lives and is giving my wife and I more food for thought in our own relationship. 

Alongside that we've been listening to self-help, motivational podcasts that have served to provide encouragement in our  journey, eating healthier at home by pursuing a longer term Keto lifestyle to drop weight and feel better, attending therapy on a scheduled and routine basis, and writing, writing, WRITING! 
Effective Time Usage
Photo by Steve Johnson
Not only have I been implementing the above strategies but I’ve been working to analyze just how ineffectively I was previously spending my time

It wasn’t so much just the “phone time” but the Netflix, HBO, Hulu, Amazon Prime time. Hours and hours a week that wasn’t wasted per say, but also wasn’t being constructively utilized in a way that was either building up me, my wife or my daughter.
By cutting out some of the “fat” in my time usage and focusing on more practical utilization of that time, I’ve seen so much positive change in a short 2 month period. 

Keto is opening the door for less time eating out and junk food, and more time cooking delicious, whole food meals with my family. My daughter is only 2 but she loves to pull up a step stool to our kitchen island, and help mommy and daddy mix together recipes for baked goods. 

We’ve made Keto brownies, Keto pizza, blue cheese burgers wrapped in romaine lettuce, turkey hot dogs cut up with banana peppers and pickles, tuna salad, chicken thighs and on and on. 

We eat more vegetables now that I’ve probably been eating over the last 2 years of my life. My favorites are zucchini, cucumbers, spinach leaves, and green olives. Also tons and tons of CHEESE! 

When I realized just how much delicious meats and cheese I could eat on Keto, I was sold. It isn’t always easy as there are times that I definitely crave carb rich Beer, pasta, bread, and non-keto sweets. But by targeting that one arena within our multi-faceted, busy life we are reaping near immediate awards and I don’t even mean in regards to the weight loss.

The time spent as a family, cooking together and then eating at our dinner table having discussions, joking with our daughter, and not being consumed with the television or phones has been fantastic. 

I was so proud of a moment I had last night with my daughter as I was trying to get her settled down while I got together the ingredients for our meal. 

I auto-piloted over to the TV, and asked her what show she wanted to watch while I started on dinner. She said “no daddy” and pointed at our record player in the living room.
Yes you heard me right!
My daughter said no to the TV time, and asked instead to listen to a vinyl record (just typing that sentence makes me proud as an avid music consumer and creative spirit). 

Our record player is that older vintage looking style but with the awesome features of a modernly built one and we absolutely love it! She then proceeded to dance around the living room and eventually settled down and started playing with her toys while we cycled through 3 different artists and their albums. 

Here are the links to our albums of choice by The Supremes, Wilco, and The Beatles. I'm an Abbey Road kind of guy.
It was a truly wonderful evening and I felt like my wife, my daughter, and I got everything that we could possibly get out of it. Doesn’t it feel good when you go to sleep knowing you got every ounce of enjoyment humanly possible out of your week night?
Now I know that there will be nights when we have low energy, don’t feel like cooking or going on a walk through the neighborhood. 

If I’m being real those nights have often outnumbered the productive evenings to a large degree. But that is something that we are now trying to address as a family in order to develop more positive habits. 

By making the effort to have a few of these productive evenings sprinkled into our week, we are getting more connected as a family and creating healthier habits that I hope will continue to serve my daughter and her own life choices far into the future. 


 
How are you utilizing your spare hours in the evening after work? It doesn’t matter if you are single, in a relationship, married, have no kids or have a ton of kids! The manner in which you spend your free time outside of work can make such a huge difference in the overall direction of your life. 

Perhaps you are like my wife and I where both of you are working full time. Seems like there are less and less families that have the means or discipline to be a single income family. For the ones out there that are pulling it off; I sincerely commend you!
I have to jump off track for one paragraph and give a special shout out to the stay at home moms of the world! Your job is harder than anything I could ever do up at the office and it’s not even close. 

When my wife stayed home with our daughter for the first 12 weeks of her life on maternity leave, it gave me a small window of insight into how incredibly hard that task can be. 

I’m happy to see that culturally within our society, stay at home moms are deservedly getting more and more credit for how tough their day to day life actually is. I hope that recognition and awareness continues to grow and grow.
But with our family dynamic, both my spouse and I have to work to make ends meet. 

It is what it is and instead of using that as an excuse to walk in the door, kick off our shoes, and collapse on the couch into a Netflix binge, we are trying to see our spare time in the evenings as brief opportunities to work on ourselves, our goals, and our familial bond.
What I am learning through this growing experience is that the more consistent we are in utilizing our time effectively, the more enriching our time spent becomes. 

I am growing every single day as a human in areas that have been too oft neglected and set to the way side. 

I’m becoming a more loving father and husband. 

I am less stressed and more patient. I am setting down the phone and pouring out the blocks to play with my little girl. Sounds simple right? 

From a practical standpoint, it really is and that is exactly why I want to encourage you to try and take similar steps in your own life.
Every decision that we make as human beings has an effect on the ones we love who are in our lives. Every single one! 

That’s no exaggeration because I am telling you, all of these small decisions that we are making each morning and evening as a family, are compounding into better habits, healthier mindsets, and a greater energy to live our best life. 

Instead of wasting our time complaining about what is WRONG in our life, we are re-directing our mind and focus on how much is going RIGHT!
Isn’t it kind of crazy that we have the freedom of choice on how we direct our thoughts and even with that freedom, so many people lock themselves inside a daily routine of negativity and stress? 

How do I know? 

Because my wife and I spent so much time doing it!!! I kid you not we would spend a stupid amount of time and energy worrying about things that we had no control over. Did worrying and stressing accomplish a single task or make us better people? HELL NO!
Instead it left us feeling distracted, powerless, and defeated. It blows my mind that each time we would get in those ruts of negative thought patterns and negative self-talk, we were making the decision to cripple ourselves by continuing down that path. 

Realizing that you have the power to train your thoughts and work on how you respond to life’s curve balls is such a powerful realization. 

But I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: 

The realization does not equal transformation

The transformation comes much later after you spend critical time each day working on how you are going to allow yourself to think, speak, and act.
I really enjoy the Good News Translation of Proverbs 18:21 which says; “What you say can preserve life or destroy it; so you must accept the consequences of your words.”
It is absolutely true! What are you speaking over yourself and your family on a daily basis? I get on to my wife all the time because she will claim over herself, “I have a terrible memory.”
I will give her an eyebrows raised look and say “No, you have a fantastic memory!!”
Why? Because I believe in the power of words over our lives and the trajectory of our experience on this Earth. Do I think words or vision boards are magical and will turn me into a ga-zillionaire? No. 

But I believe if we are speaking life into our day to day experiences, then that positivity will have the power of drawing other positive people into our lives and over time that energy will convert or manifest into something positive and powerful for us. 

It becomes a feedback loop of positivity, encouragement, and allows you to build up habits that will put you on a crash course with success and growth.
In the same way negative self-talk and complaining will lock you in a prison of your own creation, preventing you from being open to new experiences, people, and opportunities to excel in your passions and dreams. How different do you think your life could be if instead of saying:
“I’m not good enough” or “I always fall short of my goals”
You start declaring powerful and re-affirming words over your life, like:
“I am going to work on becoming the best me” or “I will keep the promises I make to myself”
It starts with words that eventually turn into action, that action turns into habits, and those habits eventually transform your personality traits and learned behaviors. If you don’t believe me then I suggest you analyze several areas of your life over the next week to see how you are doing on a day to day level.
Look at:
How are you spending your time in the evenings when you get off work?
What are you saying to yourself and others about YOU and your own capabilities?
What you are claiming over your life or situation throughout the week? 

What are you eating?
How open are you to changing your routines to build in more time to work on your aspirations?
These aren’t insane questions or life changing, radical actions. These are small and simple ways that you can evaluate your weekly movements through life. 

Answer those questions and then take a hard look at your answers. Is there room for improvement? Are you looking for ways to grow and get more productive in your daily life? 

Evaluating these question and looking into these simple areas might be a great starting point for you.
Working to become a better version of the human that you are does not happen overnight or with a single decision. It is taking small steps that are easily accomplished and maintaining consistency in adding those small changes and steps to your daily routine. 

Keeping those little promises to yourself over a long period of time and slowly adding to the list of what promises you are going to keep, is what will lead to real, sustainable change in who you are as a person.
That is why I write. That is why I keto. That is why I wake up 1.5 hours before I need to get ready for work so that my wife and I can read Rachel Hollis' book together and talk about it. 

It’s why I’ve started going to therapy! I know that changing myself won’t be accomplished through any one action or change in behavior, but instead through many different avenues that collectively add up to something greater in my life. 


I hope this post has encouraged you to start down your own journey of positive change and growth or has served as motivation to keep going on the path you’ve already started down. 

If you ever have any questions or want to engage more on this topic feel free to comment on this post and I swear to you I will respond in a timely manner. 

To date, I have garnered a single comment on my posts so I’m looking forward to when some of the visitors to likelyfiction.com start hitting me up to discuss these topics further so that we can all learn together!
Do me a favor too if you like this content and subscribe and share! I appreciate the support as I walk this path towards self-improvement and bring you all along for the ride.

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