168 Hours of Purpose Each Week
Raise your hand if you have ever felt like there isn’t enough time to accomplish your goals each week. Do you wonder where the time went as you look back on the week and all your unfinished tasks? If it feels like you are spinning your wheels instead of winning the race against your to-do list, you are not alone. And there is a solution.
This issue of lost time is one of my greatest struggles. I have good intentions as I start the week. Monday mornings often begin with a good cup of coffee and fresh ideas on how to plan my week. I meal plan, look at our calendar of events, make a to-do list, and even fill out a time blocking schedule for the day. Everything looks great on paper as I gear up to accomplish great things. But slowly, day by day, the to-do list grows and the time slips away. And I am discouraged with the results because there is a disconnect between what I want to do, and the time I have available to do it.
Maybe you can relate. So, what can we do? Instead of prioritizing our schedules, and listing endless tasks we want to accomplish, why not schedule our priorities? Really, go through each day of the week and give each hour a specific priority. Sound complicated? It is quite simple. And the reward for prioritizing our time is freedom.
When you know exactly how much time you have each week and what can realistically fit in that time, you are no longer boggled down by the pressure to do more. If a task doesn’t make it on the schedule, it isn’t a priority and can be set aside or eliminated. It relieves anxiety and sets you up for success. So, just how do you prioritize all 168 hours in a week?
168 Hours of Time Blocking
Just as you might use time blocking to increase productivity during the day, you can time block an entire week. Here is a sample week for my schedule:
- Meet Your Basic Needs
We all need to sleep and eat to survive, so make sure we prioritize these needs by scheduling them. It seems obvious and even a bit silly to put sleeping and eating on the schedule, but it helps give you a clear picture of where you are spending your time, and how much time you have available each day.
So, we need to determine how many hours of sleep you should get each night. This is a basic need, but is often compromised due to overworking, or overscheduling our time. I need around 7 hours of sleep each night and highlighted this area in light blue. This doesn’t mean I will get 7 hours of sleep (children don’t care if you want to sleep at 3:30 am), but I know this time cannot be filled with another priority.
Next, schedule time to eat, including the time it takes to prepare your meals. As a stay at home mom, I do all the cooking, so I schedule an hour before supper to prepare the meal. If you plan to dine out, make sure to schedule that as well.
- Meet Your Occupational Needs
Most of us work to provide for ourselves and families. Even parents who don’t bring in an outside income have jobs that must be done to maintain order in the home. Think about your typical week and when you ideally can accomplish these jobs. Make your job a priority and put it on the schedule. On my schedule this includes housework, taking care of the girls, and meal preparation.
- Meet Your Family Needs
I am a mom with little ones, so my schedule will look completely different than someone who doesn’t have small children. You can still see on my example how I set aside time to spend with my family. This area is super important to prioritize! Most people, if asked, would say their family is one of their top priorities. Yet, this isn’t always reflected in how they spend their time.
Even if you don’t have an event planned, set aside time in your schedule for family and treat this time as you would an important business meeting. Make sure there are no distractions from work or social media. Your family is a precious gift, so take the time to treasure their presence.
- Fill in the Blanks
Once you have scheduled time for sleep, eating, working and family, you can take a step back and observe how many “extra” hours you have each week to accomplish your goals. These hours can be used for all other priorities that have yet to be scheduled. For example: on my sample schedule I have music practice, blogging, watching tv, and date night scheduled in the “extra” hours. These aren’t all important goals, but they are things I enjoy and want to do each week.
Also, you might notice that I left one hour each week open as a “catch all” time. Typically, my youngest is still napping and my older girls are playing independently in the afternoon. I know that if I haven’t accomplished my tasks from earlier in the day, I have time from 3pm-4pm. This “catch all” time is a safety net I have built into my week. It allows me a second chance to succeed during each day and gives me some breathing room.
A full schedule doesn’t mean a busy, hectic schedule! As hard or awkward as it may be, try making downtime a priority in your day. When you are intentional about resting, and working, you will create a life of balance and peace. And I believe you will be even more productive!
Now that you understand how to prioritize all 168 hours in the week, it is time to take action.
- Print out the Tasks List PDF here and write down every task and goal that comes to mind. Don’t leave anything out.
- Next, give each task a number according to their importance.
- Print out the 168 Hours Schedule PDF I have included here and write a priority for every single hour in the week. Remember that every hour needs to be given a purpose, but that it can be something relaxing and enjoyable, and not just focused on goals. Any tasks that didn’t make it on the schedule can be reviewed to decide if they are still important. Then either eliminate the task, reserve it for the following week, or revise your schedule to make it a priority.
- Place your 168 Hours Schedule in a prominent place where you can review it each day. Take note of which tasks and goals were easily accomplished, and what areas of the schedule were hard to follow through with. Make notes of any changes to try the following week.
The purpose of this exercise is to reshape your mindset on what really is a priority in your life, and to learn how to focus on living a productive life you enjoy. We are all given the same amount of time each week. Make sure you are using your 168 hours to embrace life and create a legacy!
What is the greatest struggle you have with prioritizing your time? Is there one area that frustrates you more than the rest? Leave a comment below. I want to hear how you will use the 168 hours schedule to conquer your prioritizing challenges.