Prevent Burnout With Time Audits: Part One
- Prevent Burnout With Time Audits: Part One
- Prevent Burnout With Time Audits: Part Two
Time. There’s never enough, right? Ticking hands on the clock reminds us how limited time is, and we rarely accomplish everything we want to do. Many people I work with fill their schedules with activities they believe they “should” perform. Years of balancing a job, kids, and social responsibilities leave them needing a break from life. Yet, they notice their co-worker juggles more than them but comes into the office beaming each morning like she’s a superwoman. What’s the difference, and how can we discover our own superpowers?
Time is a limited resource. Period. We all have non-negotiable responsibilities. If you’re a parent, yes, you must feed and bathe and care for your children. If you’re an employee, yes, you must perform mundane office tasks. But many tasks are optional. Few people assess how their commitments affect them. Have you asked yourself how your mental and physical states shift after doing those items on your list?
It’s easy to fall into the storyline telling us to achieve prestige in our career and make a lot of money while also being the perfect parent and spouse. We’ve never been asked what makes us happy. If your co-worker loves their job while you find yours meaningless, you will burn out, and she will thrive. It is not a question of willpower or morality.
I’m not endorsing everyone quit their job or surrender their parental duties, but I’m inviting you to build an awareness of where your time goes each day. Take an honest look at which activities give you energy and which drain you. How many “shoulds” fill your list? This knowledge empowers you to prevent burnout and add more joy to your life.
Step 1: Categorize your Life
List the areas of your life where you spend most of your time.
Below is a sample list to customize to your unique life.
- Health & Self Care
- Media & Entertainment
Step 2: List your Responsibilities & Activities
Under each category, write the specific activities you perform. For example, under household include grocery shopping, cooking, laundry, cleaning, and managing your budget. Under Media and Entertainment, write social media, podcasts, television, and reading. Finally, the family should include any activities or caretaking for your children, spouse, elderly parents, and pets.
Step 3: Gain, Drain or Neutral
Next, assess how each activity affects your energy. If you love performing a task and are energized after, then write “gives.” Are there activities you dislike and try to avoid? Those “drain” your energy. If something neither gives nor takes energy, then write neutral. If you’re unsure, check in the next time you to-do the activity. You may find some things you used to enjoy now drain you. Also, make note if an activity drains you in certain circumstances and gives you energy in others. An example may be a work project you hate doing on your own but enjoy when a co-worker helps you.
Step 4: Delegation
For each item, ask if you must do the task. Can it be delegated or outsourced? Are you the only one in your office who can organize committee meetings? Are there alternative options for driving your kids to their soccer practice? Some things on the list will be your sole responsibility. Still, with so many resources from grocery delivery and dog walking services to virtual assistants, it isn’t necessary to do everything ourselves.
Step 5: Priorities
Now ask yourself if this activity is a priority in your life moving you towards your goals. Attending work meetings may drain you, but they may be essential to helping you reach your professional goals. On the other hand, you may decide to check Instagram ten times per day is draining and isn’t bettering your life.
Step 6: Decision Time
You need a calm mind during this step. Choose what stays and what goes. Don’t let guilt dictate what you keep. If you decide you want to delegate a task, you don’t have to take immediate action. If you’re unsure how to outsource an activity, make a note to investigate it later. What’s one draining item you can delegate or remove from your list in the next few weeks?
Awareness is key to making positive and lasting changes in our lives. Try doing this audit once or twice each year. You’ll begin to assess the cost of new commitments before you put them on your plate. In time, most activities you perform will energize you or be neutral.
What insights did you gain from this activity? Were they what you expected?
If you lack activities giving you energy, that’s normal. In the next article, we’ll use this audit to assess what steps you can take to find more harmony.