How To Spend Time On Things That Are Important To You
As someone who enjoys having many things going on at the same time, every now and then I get sucked into a whirlwind of urgent to-do’s and as a result spend less time on what is actually important. For example, exercising and personal development are priorities to me, but when I’m faced with many competing activities on the agenda I experienced they are at risk of taking a back seat…
To make sure my time is actually spent on what is important to me, my business partner introduced me to the 24 hour grid. This has been a game-changer and a tool I keep going back to when it feels like my agenda is in charge of me instead of the other way around. I’ve become much more mindful of my own schedule, and it has allowed me to take control of my time and prioritize the things that truly matter to me.
What Is The 24-Hour Grid?
The 24-hour grid is a visual representation of your daily schedule. It’s essentially 24 squares, with each square representing one hour of your time. By visualizing your day in this way, you get a clearer understanding of where your time is going and you can make more conscious decisions on what you want spend your time on.
How To Define Your Status Quo With The 24-Hour Grid
- Start by drawing a 4×6 grid on a piece of paper or spreadsheet. (Or 2×12 – whatever floats your boat, just make sure there are 24 squares.)
- Make a list of activities you spend time on during a regular day. Some examples are sleeping, working, chores, eating, family time, travel, social media and exercise.
- For each activity, estimate how many hours on a day you spend on that activity.
- Map your activities into the grid. You do this by marking a square for each hour you spent. Use a different colour or symbol for each category to make it easier to identify what you are spending your time on.
- Consider breaking down larger activities in smaller chunks. For example, work could be split into time spent on meetings, emails or training.
Reflecting On Your 24-Hour Grid
If working through this exercise helped you find some pockets of time you can dedicate to what is important to you, that’s awesome! But if you are not sure what to do next, here are some questions to help you reflect on how you can rethink your 24 hours.
Do You Have Unaccounted Time? – Look out for gaps in your schedule where time seems to slip away without purpose. These unaccounted hours may present an opportunity to re-allocate them towards activities that align with your passions and ambitions.
Are You Happy With How You Spend Your Time? – Evaluate the activities you engage in throughout the day and assess how they make you feel. Are they fulfilling and meaningful, or do they leave you drained and unfulfilled?
What Would You Change? – Imagine your ideal day and compare it to your current routine. Identify the activities and areas of focus that truly matter to you. Determine what changes you can make to ensure that your time is spent on those important things.
Taking Action – become more intentional with your time allocation
Now that you have an insight into where your time is actually going, you can become more mindful of what you spend your time on going forward. Something you can try for the next few weeks is simply keeping your 24 hour grid close at hand. When different tasks and activities come your way, use your 24 hour grid as a reminder: am I spending my time on what matters to me? Continue using it as a tool to find the precious minutes in your day and contribute them to what is important to you.
About The Author
Suzanne Charlotte Vos is Director at Innovation & Integration. She is on a mission to help people get unstuck and achieve their goals in a constantly transforming world. With over a decade of experience ranging from her family business to global corporate environments, she believes everyone benefits from having an innovative mindset in both a personal and professional capacity.
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