Kevin Fong - Organizational Design
  Making Time for Joy


Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes.
Five hundred twenty five thousand moments so dear.
Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes.
How do you measure, measure a year?
 
These lyrics have been running through my mind since I received news that my dear friend Felicia passed away last week.   As second graders, we became close friends and remained so through our school years and beyond. When she was diagnosed with breast cancer twenty years ago, she matched her challenges with grace and compassion.  Over the years, she had some good times and bad times but she never took any day, good or bad, for granted.  “We don’t have a moment to waste,” she would say to me every time we met.
 
Her life inspired me to reconsider how to structure my time. As an independent practitioner who works from home, managing my time is a tremendous challenge.  And when I receive emails from some of you that are date-stamped at midnight and later, I know this challenge is a shared one.   Access to communication from anywhere at any time comes with a price.  How do we turn off the work switch and make space for something else?  How do we make time for joy?   Here is a system I developed for myself that may yield this very thing for you.
 
1.  Make a list of the priorities in your life.  How do you want to spend your time?  What brings you joy?  My list, in this order, is 1) Being with my partner and kids; 2) Being with family and friends; 3) Setting aside personal time (my health, creative endeavors, spiritual development); 4) Work; and 5) Travel.
 
2.  Create a color-coded system on your calendar according to your priorities. Many of us use some sort of electronic calendar, so it’s easy to set up.  For me, being with Greg and the boys is green; Personal time is blue; Work is purple, etc.  I also suggest creating an extra category which I call “space” to account for tv time, web surfing, Facebook, Farmville, etc.
 
3.  Before you shut down for the day, take three minutes to log in your activities on your calendar.  Be fastidious in your logging; for me, I track my time to the half hour.  You can also do this the first thing in the morning (for the previous day), but whatever you do make it a daily practice.  And be sure to color-code your activities to correspond with the appropriate category.
 
4.  At the end of each week, account for your time.  One week for me looked like this:  Work/purple – 42 hours; Greg and the kids/green – 30 hours; Personal/blue – 24 hours; Family and Friends/orange – 8 hours; “Space”/gray – 6 hours. 
 
5.  Every month, review your actual time investment against your priorities.  How did you measure up?  What changes can you make in the next week, month or year to better align your priorities with your time?  This whole process takes a fraction of the time that you might normally spend in “space”, but the payoff is infinitely better.
 
Is it worth it?  I have been sharpening this practice for over ten years and am able to organize my life to be in better alignment with my values and priorities. The tool helps me design my life to bring myself and others joy.  It is part of how I honor myself, my family and friends, and Felicia.
 
May the time you make bring you joy every single day.  We don’t have a moment to waste. 


All of our previous Elemental News articles can be found at our website: www.elementalpartners.net/elemental-news  
 
© 2011 by Elemental Partners – All Rights Reserved
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