How much of your time goes toward working on your marriage? It can be a hard question to answer. And more importantly, how much time is enough? Taking a look at your time management skills can be very helpful to your marriage, as well as other aspects of your life.
Managing the demands of day to day life can interfere with keeping your marriage as a priority. Work, money, extended family, children, and household responsibilities can make life a difficult juggling act. Recognizing where your time goes can be a helpful first step in managing your time.
Keep a Record of Your Time
Many people underestimate how much leisure time they actually have. People tend to think they watch less television and spend less time on the computer than they actually do. They also underestimate how much time is unaccounted for each day. Learning how much spare you time you actually have can be eye-opening.
It can be very helpful to keep a record of your time for one full month. Keep a log to track what you are doing each hour of every day. This can be helpful to see how much time you spend doing each activity.
At the end of the month, divide your time into categories. Include categories such as work, sleep, household chores, time spent with children, time spent with friends, and time spent with spouse. Take a look at where your time is actually going and what sorts of activities are taking up the majority of the time.
Once you’ve taken an inventory of your time, determine if there are changes you may want to make. Does your schedule truly reflect who you want to be? For example, if you claim that your spiritual beliefs are a big part of your life, how many hours per month do you devote to these activities? Do you spend more time surfing the internet than spending time on activities you really value?
Just like it is important to have a budget, it is important to have a sort of “time budget.” Decide what activities are most worthy of your time. Do you want to devote more time to your spouse? Do you want to devote less time to cleaning the house? Take some time to think about what is a reasonable and realistic time to set aside for activities.
Set Your Priorities
Determine what your priorities are and find ways to keep those things most important to you in the front and center of your life. Keep a to-do list as well. Number each item on your list in order of importance and set realistic goals for what you want to accomplish today.
When it comes to your marriage, don’t forget to schedule things with your spouse. Although you may be used to doing things together whenever the mood strikes, for many, this causes the relationship to take a back seat to other things in life. Consider scheduling a date night. Even if it is a night to stay home and spend some time together, consider writing it on the calendar. Then give yourself permission to forgo other activities for the night.
Remind yourself of what is truly important to you in life. Do you value spending time with your family over cleaning the house? If so, live like it! Remember that the laundry can wait. The dishes don’t need to be done. And your loved ones won’t judge you if you have a dirty floor.
Avoid Taking on Too Much
Don’t take on so many activities that you aren’t able to live according to your values. If you are the president of the PTA, the head of neighborhood watch, and the head volunteer at the homeless shelter, you may find that you are ineffective at all of them because you don’t have the time and energy to devote to them. Or if you are good at all of them, it’s likely that your family life may be suffering.
Be willing to say no sometimes. If you decline a friend’s invitation or decide not to take the lead on a project, it can be a good thing for your family. Overscheduling yourself can make it impossible to live according to what is truly important to your life. Devote time to your spouse and recognize that it is an investment into your life-long commitment to one another.