If you've hung out here for very long, you probably know all about my container concept! I was thinking about it the other day, and I think it totally applies to time management as well, with one key difference. Check out the video here, or keep reading below!
The Container Concept
If you're trying to keep control over your clutter, one of the best methods to control it is to have containers that limit the amount of stuff you can put in them. For example, if I have a crayon container, and I get a new box of crayons, at some point that container will be full.
I won't go out and buy a new container. I'll have to choose to either get rid of some of the old crayons to make room for the new, or maybe I'll just decide that my old crayons are exactly what I need, and I won't buy the new ones at all. Once the container is full, it's full, and I can't add anything more!
How this Applies to our Time
Just like our containers have an absolute limit of what they can hold, so does our day! We all have the same 24 hours, and once your day is full, there's no way to add more to it. I've talked about the waffle principle before, too.
Basically, we all get one waffle per day, and each square is a chunk of time. Once we use that time, the syrup spills over into the next square. You can't stretch your squares. It can only hold so much. Time blocking is kind of like this as well.
If you have ever time-blocked your day, you might have a schedule set up something like this:
- 7a-8:30a– getting ready
- 9a-5p– work
- 5:30-7:30p– family time
- 7:30-8:30p–home project
- 8:30-9:30p– self care
It's really easy to set up those time blocks, but it's a LOT harder to actually stick to it! For example, say I get really into my home project. At 8:30, I have to consciously make the decision to stop the project and start my relaxing/self-care time. That can be a really hard thing to do!
It's so easy to just keep going and not really realize that we're stealing our self-care time or our sleep time, or whatever. It may be a perfectly okay thing to steal hobby time someday. But if self-care time or a full 8 hours of sleep are non-negotiable for you or your health, then you have to realize that you're stealing the important things from yourself if you don't follow your schedule.
Setting your Priorities
Realizing that you're stealing from yourself is the half the battle. If you keep stealing your gym/workout time so you can hang out with your kids, for example, is working out really all that important to you? It's okay if it's not. Maybe your healthy dinner cooking gets swapped a lot for takeout. It's okay to decide that takeout is the way to go in your current situation. YOU get to decide your priorities.
No one would actually say out loud that one person can do everything, but we often behave as if we can. Not being realistic in our expectations of ourselves is really unkind. We would not place the same expectations on another person, so why do we expect to do all the things in such a small amount of time?!?
Thinking about time in a different way– like the container principle or the waffle concept– can help us figure out what our real priorities are so we can use our time on what is most important to us. That's the real goal for all of us– to spend our limited time on what matters!