Living in Balance: Where do I spend my time?

Time is one of your most valuable assets. Are you spending it in a way that is consistent with your values?

As I start the New Year, I typically reflect on the past year and what I want to do differently in the coming year. One practice I have is to evaluate if I am spending my time in the areas I value the most. I want to ensure that I spend my time and energy in areas that serve my purpose and values.

My methodology is simple. First, I attempt to define my purpose and values. This is an iterative process and one that I come back to every couple of years.

Defining my purpose: This is difficult to do and evolves over time. Questions I ask myself are:

  • What contribution do I want to make?

  • Am I making a meaningful difference for others?

  • What legacy do I want to leave?

  • How do I feel fulfilled and at peace?

  • What am I passionate about?

  • What does my best self look like?

Defining my values: I have a couple of online tools I like to use to figure out my top 5-10 values. I use these tools and then write down my top values.



The next step in my process is to write down where I spent my time during the previous week. It helps if I am as specific as possible. Some domains I use to map my time are:


  • Sleep

  • Nutrition

  • Exercise

  • Calming the Mind


  • Recreation

  • Art/Music

  • Self-development

  • Learning

  • Time in Nature

  • Spiritual development


  • Close family

  • Extended family

  • Friends

  • Community


  • In the office

  • On my phone

  • In home office


  • Volunteering

  • Donations

  • Helping an individual

Extras (most likely time wasters)

  • TV

  • Social media

  • Others

Once I have completed the exercises above (purpose, values, time analysis), then I have what I need to look at my time choices in a cohesive way. Did I spend enough time on the foundational elements and in renewal? Was my time spent in a way that was consistent with my values? Am I comfortable with my choices?

After I identify areas I want to change, then I have to create a game plan to actually institute the changes.

There are many resources available to help with goal setting and creating lasting change. The basic tenets that I follow are:

  • Start with the foundational elements. If I don’t have a strong foundation in place, then I won’t have the energy to do anything else at my best.

  • Focus on one change at a time.

  • Define a SMART goal: Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

  • Make the commitment to yourself to make the change

  • Create habits and rituals to support the change.

    • Schedule time in your calendar.

    • Link the new habit to one you already do consistently. For example, when I wanted to start brushing my dog’s teeth consistently, I committed to doing it right after I brushed my own teeth in the evening.

    • Use your phone as a tool (Alarms, Reminders, Habit tracker)

In 2018, one of my goals was to spend consistent time with my mother. I made the goal SMART by committing to have dinner with my mother every Wednesday evening. I scheduled it in my calendar and it became a ritual that we both enjoy.

For 2019, my first change is to develop myself musically. My commitment is to listen to music every day, practice singing and playing the piano. I am using the app Habit List to track my progress. I am already enjoying the positive feeling of marking each item as completed each day in Habit List and seeing my streak grow.

What is the first change you will make to bring your time into alignment with your purpose and values?