Any way you slice it, there are only so many hours

Picture a pie.

Any pie.

A fruit pie. A quiche. A pizza pie. 

Not hungry? Okay. Picture a pie chart. Just, please, for me, choose some fun colours. Make it a joyful pie chart. 

A pie with one slice cut out and served to represent that there are only so many hours in a day.
Photo by Dilyara Garifullina on Unsplash

Now, imagine cutting your pie into 24 slices and serving up eight of those slices (just over a quarter of your pie). Those are for sleep (give or take, we don’t all have the same sleep needs). 

Now serve two more slices. Those are for eating, purchasing and preparing food, washing dishes, brushing your teeth, going to the bathroom, showering . . . in other words, your basic human needs. This will vary depending on who you are, so add in a few more slices if needed. 

Okay, you have about half a pie left. If you sit your half pie for today next to those for each day of a seven day week, you have 84 slices, or, three and a half pies left.

To whom or what do you serve those remaining slices?

Who do you serve first?

Are you signed up for 40 hours a week of paid employment? Okay, there goes one pie and three quarters. 

Do you work out for 30 minutes four times a week? That’s two more slices. (Also, good for you! Serving ourselves first is hard for a lot of us to do.) 

You have about 42 slices left. 

Do you read the news? Are you no different than many of us and do you spend more time on screens (social media, TV, streaming services, games) than you’d like?

Okay, 30 slices left. 

That’s not so bad. Those 30 slices are not likely evenly divided between your seven days; but, if they were, you’d have four slices, or hours, unaccounted for each day. Time to read a book. Go for a walk. Call a friend or family member. Practice a hobby.

Wait, do you have kids? Are you a caregiver to someone? Have you got volunteer commitments? Are the constantly changing pandemic public health measures getting you down and you’re coping with endless hours of screen time each day? 

Damn. We’re starting to run out of pie . . . 

A small thing everyone can start right away

Here’s the thing: any way you slice it, there are only so many hours in a day. 

Here’s another thing: you can absolutely choose to sleep less, order out more, and put in place a plan to reduce your screen time. 

There will still only be so many hours, and I find those of us who struggle to fit it all in often have things waiting in the wings for a cancelation. 

I spend a lot of my time as a strategist and coach helping individuals and organizations choose priorities and stay aligned to them to better manage that reality. 

If you or your team want help with that, please give me a shout. Sometimes it’s about doing less, and sometimes it’s about doing differently — bringing consciousness to how you’re using your slices is often an important first step. Either way, it helps to have a trusted outsider work with you to unpack your decisions.  

Also, here’s a small thing everyone can start doing right away. 

Start doubling up. 

Feed two birds with one pie slice. 

You want to catch up with a friend, but your paid employment hours are making it hard to find time. What if you set up a virtual co-working date? Give yourselves two slices of pie. Chat a bit at the beginning, work for a slice or a slice and half, and chat for a bit at the end. 

You want to spend quality time with your kids, but those school lunches aren’t going to make themselves. What if you all agreed to make lunches together? (Of course, this won’t work with every kid, but is there some other double up that might?)

Can doubling up help you?

Okay. Now it’s your turn. How might you double up on an hour of streaming and exercise? Or cooking and (audio book) reading?

Look. I get it. A lot of us are tired. This pandemic is putting tremendous pressure on us, many of us are grieving huge losses, and this just may not be a time to look at optimizing your pie. If that’s where you’re at, bookmark this for your future self and ignore me for now.  

Also, if there’s an activity you use to process or get lost in, do not mess with that. Maybe, for you, cooking is meditative. It doesn’t need an audio book added to it. 

If you do have energy to test out a double up, though, I’d love to hear how it goes. Especially if you figure out a good double up for hair care. My curls take several slices a week to manage and I’d love to find a perfect pairing for those hours.  

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