Intentional time is having a purpose for everything you do, when you do it.
It’s giving your full attention to the task at hand.
It’s putting first things first.
Whether at the gym, at work, or at home, it’s important that your actions reflect your goals and add value. It’s so easy to get comfortable with daily life, mindlessly going through the motions. Sometimes we all need to take a step back, look at how we’re spending our time, and re-evaluate.
Schedule: How are you spending your time?
The most common excuse in today’s society is, “I don’t have time.”
Are you working out today? “I don’t have time.” How’s that book you wanted to read? “I don’t have time.” Want to get dinner tonight? “I don’t have time.”
Most people do live pretty busy lives, and time is certainly a precious commodity. However, most people are also unknowingly wasting so much of it.
Let’s assume you work 8 hours a day and sleep 8 hours a day (any more than that is too much). How are you spending the remaining 8 hours? Do you have a schedule? Or are you aimlessly wandering through each day with no direction or structure?
Step one in creating intentional time is to develop a routine. Form a schedule that is reasonable and repeatable.
Spend a few days taking note of what you’re doing at all times from when you wake up to when you go to sleep. Deconstruct a typical day and find chunks where your time could be better spent. Even if you have work hours that vary, try to make each day as predictable as possible.
Set aside some time every night to prepare for the next day. Lay out your clothes, pack your food, and check the weather and your calendar.
Don’t take out leisure activities all together, but schedule them just as you would anything else. If there’s a specific show you want to watch on TV, plan for it. But if you’re sitting in front of the TV every night scrolling through channels until you settle with Iron Man on FX for the umpteenth time, you can do better.
Prioritize: Is the way you’re spending your time reflective of your goals?
The second step in developing intentional time is prioritizing your life.
First ask yourself, what is most important to me? What are my goals? If you don’t have any clearly defined goals, make some. Write them down and study them every day.
Now look at the daily routine you’ve created for yourself. Are the things you’re doing every day indicative of what’s important to you? Are your habits moving you closer toward achieving your goals? If not, then you may need to re-evaluate how you’re spending your time.
Put first things first. The activities that bring value to your life should be the foundation of your day. Everything else is just filler.
For example, if you said that your health is important to you and your goal is to lose 5 pounds this month, then working out and preparing/eating healthy meals needs to be ingrained in your daily routine. If there is a happy hour at the same time as your workout class, then logic indicates you should go to the workout class because that’s the activity that directly aligns with your goal.
But maybe that’s not your only option. Could you wake up early and workout before work? During your lunch break? After the happy hour? (Strongly advise against the last one.) The point I’m trying to make is that if your goal is truly important to you, then make the time.
Optimize: Are you making the most of how you’re spending your time?
Here’s the important one. The final step in becoming more intentional with your time is focusing on making the most of it.
At this point, you’ve developed a solid routine revolved around activities that add value to your life and reflect what’s important to you. Now, it’s all about investing your undivided attention in those individual activities. Giving 100% of your effort to whatever you’re doing, when you’re doing it.
I’ll use a personal example. My number one priority is my family, and one of my goals is to be a more engaged father and husband. That means addressing all of my other priorities (work, working out, personal training, blog, etc.) before coming home every night so that I can give my wife and daughter my full attention.
But that’s easier said than done.
It’s hard to avoid checking social media, updating my blog, and jotting down training notes. I even have to fight the urge to get in a second workout. I still struggle with these things, but I’m trying to eliminate the distractions because I recognize that they only move me further from my goal of being a more involved father and husband. I constantly remind myself to live in the moment.
I’ll go back to the weight loss example. When you step into the gym, the only thing you should be thinking about is your workout. Not your family or your job or your finances. If those things are important, then you’ve already set aside time to focus on them at some other part of your day.
At that moment, you’re at the gym to work toward achieving one specific goal. Focus wholly on the immediate task and nothing else.
Intentional time is a powerful concept. Too often, people are unknowingly wasting hours of their day by lazily going through the motions. I know I was.
Snap out of it.
Develop a specific routine. Prioritize activities that add value. And whatever you’re doing, do it with purpose.