Laura Vanderkam, author of 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think, embarked on a year-long effort to track how she spent her time. Inspiration for her study came from a Gallup poll from December 2015 in which 48% of Americans say they don’t have enough time. The feeling is even worse for working Americans – 61% say they don't have enough time. Vanderkam discovered that no matter how busy we claim to be, we have more free time than we think. The writer summarizes her experience in the Sunday Review section of the May 15 New York Times: The Busy Person's Lies.
Why do we tend to feel that we don’t have “enough time?” Maybe it’s because we don’t feel we spend enough time on the things that really matter to us. That’s where having a strong personal brand can help. It can guide us in making choices that support our core identities.
How can you make sure you have the time you want and need for what’s really important to you? First of all, create a personal branding platform that goes beyond your resume and social media presence. Your brand platform forms the basis for these outward expressions. So dig in and ask yourself what makes you, you? When you “peel the onion” what do you see? What are the most important values, activities, and relationships in your life? What do you want to achieve for yourself, in the long- and short-term? What do you want to change?
Next, start using a time-tracking tool. What for, you might ask? Doesn't being authentic come from the inside…naturally? Yes, but as Vanderkam learned from her experience, data bring out the truth, “the stories I told myself about where my time went weren’t always true. The hour-by-hour rhythm of my life was not quite as hectic as I’d thought.” Vanderkam found a sense of abundance. What might you discover with your own time study?
Want to see how your time stacks up against your brand?
Create a tracking sheet. It can be on a notepad, in an Excel spreadsheet, on your smartphone. The idea is not to create the perfect form, but to make it easy for you to log your time. Track time in increments that are easy for you to isolate – Vanderkam used 30 minute time blocks. Define the categories you want to track: sleeping, working, eating, reading, surfing the internet, exercising, driving, etc.
Track your time for at least one full week. Take your data and total up time by category. Next, list the categories in rank order (highest number of hours to least). What are the top five activities you spent time on?
Compare the top five time items with the elements of your brand:
Do your activities align with your Core Values?
Do the activities move you toward your Goals and Dreams?
Do your activities honor your Commitments to Yourself?
What is your discovery?