When I began my education at McGill, I was determined to continue the side projects I had going already. I had a quick and rude awakening when I realized that my life didn’t allow for it. I took a look at what I was doing with my time and if I had optimized it before trying to take on my serious projects again. Fortunately, I was able to make time for my work outside of school. The fear of thinking I had to spend 3 years confined to academics alone lit a large fire under me.
Your primary source of income or progress should not take up 1000000% of your time. If you find that you can’t do things that you want or need to do, it means that your work is consuming your life. Needless to say, this is a dangerous situation.
Developing a schedule that allows for “extra curricular activities” is important. It allows us to diversify what we spend our time on. Asking if your life allows for something you want to do is a great way to gauge how in control of your time you are. If the answer is no, your life won’t allow for that, then it’s time for a time audit.
There are a lot of templates for time audits out on Google, but I think it’s best to keep it easy. Use a tracker, either the stopwatch on your phone or something a little more advanced like Harvest to track your time. This will depend on you being honest about how long you spend doing something. If you’re switching from work to Facebook or other distractions all the time, your tracking won’t be truthful.
When you’ve tracked your time for a day or a week, then put it all into an excel spreadsheet and turn it into percentages. It’s easy to create charts on excel or Google Sheets, and it will help you visualize. Using a pie chart tends to be my preference, but whatever gives you the best visual. Here’s an example of what my pattern of time usage has been lately:
As you can see, I spend almost half of my time in my day sleeping. Now, I give myself some credit when it comes to this. I’m under a lot of stress with my exams, I’m 18 and I exhaust myself every day, and I love to sleep. It makes me happy. Yet, I have learned recently that my days become much more productive when I wake up about 2 hours earlier to go exercise before my day starts. I only sleep for 8 hours, but I get extra energy from the time I didn’t know I had.
There’s an example of how a time audit can change your perspective on what you can and can’t do. Examine how you spend your days and then try to change what you don’t like one step at a time. Go to bed an hour earlier, go to an earlier exercise class, spend one less hour working but make sure you’re working the whole time. You are your best friend when analyzing your life. Be honest, remember that this is meant to help you, and DO IT!