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I have a significant amount of time I just don't use it appropriately.

11 August 2012

72/365-And Your Point Is? by Helga Weber "Flickr" cc
We've learned it in high school, applied it in college and somehow forgotten it by adulthood. Oh, the skills of time management! I don't know about you but I have started to feel like time was escaping me throughout the day. Don't misunderstand me. I'm not talking about working every second of the day but in a 24 hour day there are 8 hours of work and 8 or less hours of sleep but where are the additional 8 or so hours going? Have you ever wondered this? 

Well, I have. So I decided to implement the old test. Write down my schedule for the day to see where the time flies.

6:30 a.m. Wake up, make coffee, and have breakfast while watching my morning news show of choice.
7:30 a.m. Initiate the will to shower and get ready. Mr. Collier is awake at this point.
8:00 a.m. Make lunch and get coffee to-go.
8:15-8:30 a.m. Leave for work.
9:00 a.m. Arrive in lab
10:30 a.m. Snack
11:30 a.m. Lunch
3:00 p.m. Coffee
5:45-6:00 p.m. Leave work for home or other scheduled activity.
6:30-7:30 p.m. Prepare/eat dinner
7:00-10:00 p.m. Watch T.V. and fall asleep on the couch.
Repeat

Clearly there is room for improvement. For example, making coffee or lunch in the morning can be accomplished during the three hours I designated for T.V. viewing in the evening. Our coffee machine can even be preset but why haven't I taken advantage of this? Complacency. That's why. Also, I often hear myself complaining that I don't have the time to work out or do a daily devotional. Well, that is a blatant lie. I have a significant amount of time I just don't use it appropriately. Now, I must admit that some of my scheduled evening activities are fitness related but not always. Additionally, I complain that our house is a disaster because I can't find the time to clean. Well, there is another activity that can be accomplished instead of the "occupy the couch movement". 

So here is where the change comes in. From a science perspective, habits/behaviors arise from a part of the brain that is linked to emotions and feelings so often times this area is hard to crack. A habit of sorts is equivalent to a complacent decision, it is automated which is why habits are challenging to make and break. Think of a New Year's resolution. You make the resolution and a week or so later, you are indulging in chocolate or skipping the gym. It is because habits are hard to break. But it is not impossible. According to an article discussing habit making and breaking featured on NPR.org, one of the best ways to break a behavior is to change while on vacation. The reason behind this is that being immersed in an environment without your typical cues forces cognitive thought. Your mind no longer becomes complacent. You are actively in control. When I was on my mission trip, they don't flush toilet paper down the toilet but rather place it in a nearby trashcan. I've been back for almost two weeks and I still find myself confused on where the toilet paper should go. New behaviors. 

The goal is to recognize the cue and reward of the habit so that one can actively think about the trigger and respond accordingly. For example, if I see that my lab manager places candy in the jar in our break room, I'm going to go for it. Once I've had one piece, I can't help but indulge in several. Therefore, seeing the candy in the break room is the trigger and the reward is the candy. By hiding the candy jar from my sight, I eliminate the need for the reward and dissolve the habit over time. 

How does this tangent then relate to the time management problem that I've described in my life? Well, if I apply these principles to my daily schedule I may become more effective as an individual. I just have to remember to stick with it. Habits are not formed in a day and therefore cannot be broken in a day.  

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