In last week’s blog I challenged you to keep a short diary of how your time was spent each week.  This is something I was challenged to do during the height of my burnout and was aimed at rescheduling my time.

If you’ve already completed your time diary, read on.  Otherwise I would urge you to keep a diary, if not for a week then for a few days.  The findings will surprise you.

First, a little basic mathematics.

There are 24 hours in each day, which over 7 days translates to 168 hours.

In these diaries we are looking for patterns and looking at the macro data, rather than whether 6.30-7 on a Tuesday night is well spent.

You know thatyou should be sleeping 7-8 hours a night.  Over 7 days that’s between 49 and 56 hours.  We’ll call it 50 for ease.

Are you getting 50+ hours sleep in an average week?  If the answer is yes, well done, have a cookie.  If you answer is no, well, there’s one of the root causes of your burnout and exhaustion right there.

So 168 - 50 = 118.

Next up, let’s remove working hours.  If you work full time you’ll work somewhere between 35 and 40 hours basic.  Add in your lunch breaks (whether you take them or not) and right there is 45-55 hours off the total.  Don’t forget your commute.  If we take an average of one hour each way, that’s another 10.  I’ll round it to 60 hours for ease.

(before we proceed, can we marvel right there that although we spent one third of our lives asleep, we spend more time working and getting to and from work than that third?  Something to think about there.)

Let’s remove work from the equation; 118-60 = 58.

58 hours per week of waking time that isn’t at work.  You may well have less than that.  For many years I know I did; 12 hour minimum days, working overtime paid and unpaid that added up to 60 or more hours a month.  There were some months when there was literally a choice between sleeping or eating, bathing and washing clothes.

These 58 hours, or whatever your total may be, are your hours of play.  These are the hours each week that you can spend as you choose.

So how do you spend them?

How many hours per week are spent on chores; cooking, cleaning, shopping, tidying up, laundry?

How many of those hours are spent sprawled on the sofa in front of the television watching something you aren’t really enjoying, just spending the time until you feel it’s a reasonable bed time?

Conversely, how many of those hours are filled with joy?  Watching a film or event with a loved one, lingering over coffee in a coffee shop watching the people go by.

How do you spend your time each week?

Do you feel proud of what you see in front of you?  Does it make you happy?  Or does it make you want to change or despair at the few hours you have away from work?

They say that no one says on their deathbed ‘I wish I’d worked more’ and so the question at the root of all this is; what is important to you.  How do you want to spend your days? 

Time is short, more so when you’re exhausted.  I would invite you to join the facebook group to discuss how this exercise made you feel and what changes you want to make in your life.  You can join the group of ambitious, heartfelt female professionals here