Spend Your Time Intentionally

By Leo Babauta

I’ve seen a lot of people with goals about changing how they spend their time, things like:

These are wonderful goals! They all involve something that theoretically is pretty simple: simply change how you spend your time.

But it’s rarely that simple, is it? Something causes us to spend our time in ways we want to change, but struggle to change.

Today we’ll look at what pulls us off goals like this, and how to shift to being more intentional about how you spend your time.

What Pulls Us Off Our Time Intentions

Let’s say you have a goal like, “Spend more time with family (or friends)” … why do you need a goal like that in the first place? Without any judgment, it’s worth asking, Why aren’t you already doing that?

Or another way to ask it: What will likely pull you away from that goal?

We can have the best of intentions with our time, but there are a few things that commonly cause us to get pulled away from those intentions:

My suggestion for these is to put some padding into your plan, so you can deal with the unexpected. If you have time intentions blocked off on a calendar or schedule … don’t make it too tightly planned. Give space for rest, taking care of yourself, catching up on messages, and so on.

But there’s one bigger reason we get pulled off our intentions: fear vs. comfort.

For example:

When we’re feeling stress, fear or resistance, we might get pulled towards work or distractions because we think that will allay the fear or comfort the stress. That’s the biggest reason we get pulled away from our intentions.

How to Spend Your Time More Intentionally

The first thing is to think about what intentions you have for your time that you’re not already doing. For example:

Once you’ve got those intentions, you can get clearer: 30 mins of reading everyday, an hourlong walk or hike in nature 4x a week, evenings with family after 6pm on weekdays and half day fun on both Saturdays and Sundays.

Then block it off on your calendar, and commit to others. Maybe you do your walks with your partner or best friend. Plan your weekends and weeknights with your family. Join a reading challenge or have reading time with the family.

Set a reminder to review your intentions every morning or evening.

Those are the first steps. The real work will come when you get confronted by fear, resistance or stress … and look to get out of these intentions by working or going to distractions.

When this happens:

This is a practice, and it doesn’t come naturally to most of us. But if you’d like to live a more intentional life, this is the practice. What would you like to do?