What is 168 Hours?

Each week you have 168 hours to use. This blog covers my ramblings on how to use them as effectively as possible.

It's not about stuffing as much as you can into the 168 hours. It's about ensuring that you use the 168 hours as best you can to ensure you get to where you want to go in as relaxed a state as possible.

Archive for March 2012

I’ve come to the conclusion that stress is the result of more ‘stuff’ in our lives than we have time to do that ‘stuff’. This can happen if we under estimate how long it will take to do something, or if an emergency comes along when our schedule is already pretty full.

We only have 168 hours a week to work with. I see people under stress who often have far more: 170, 175, 180 hours of stuff that they are trying to do within their 168 hours. What’s the result? Everything suffers and they feel stressed.

In order to manage this we need to understand who has the ability to use up our 168 hours.

Our boss, our staff, our friends, our partner etc.?

Who has the right to put stuff into our 168 hour slots?

At work, if (and I know for some, that this is a big ‘if’) we have our priorities and plans sorted we should be starting the week with a good idea of how our 35-40 hours (typical working hours) will be spent. We will have a schedule that has blocked out with the number of hours needed for email, projects, meetings, thinking & doing time etc.

So if your hours are already pretty full, and the boss comes along with an unscheduled extra 3 hours of work, what do you do? The initial reaction is often to feel put upon and the stress levels creep up. Suddenly there is more to do than time available to do it in. So, do you allow your boss to drop additional stuff into your schedule? Do you work late, get in early (or take it home) in order to catch-up? If you do, where has this time come from? It’s come from other time allocated for other things. So something else suffers.

An approach is to ask the boss “Is this additional 3 hours work, more important than other items that I have scheduled this week?” If so, what is the least important, so time can be taken from there. Easier said than done though, isn’t it? However, it’s so much easier to do if you have planned out your work hours and priorities. If you haven’t then you are asking for trouble (or stress).

The same approach applies to out of work hours – stress arises when there are more things to do than time to do it in. As always, I am not suggesting you pack your 168 hours as fully as possible. Otherwise there will be no space in your schedule for when those emergencies arise.

And they will arise.

Last weekend a friend of mine called in a panic as his boiler had broken and he had a busy weekend planned and couldn’t be at home for British Gas to undertake the repair. These things do happen – but as I had some flex time I could help out. Whereas he had nowhere to grab time from for British Gas from other areas of his packed weekend schedule. The result for him? A similar level of stress compared to when the boss comes up to your desk and dumps an additional 3 hours into your workload.

The outcome is to plan the 168 hours and build in a little flex time (For me, this is typically an hour for a work day or so a day and 3-5 hours at the weekend) – basically about 10 hours a week. Worst case I have this time available for ‘emergencies’ and if none arise, I can use the time any way I care to. I look on this as a ‘gift of time’ to do hobbies, relaxation, something spontaneous etc.

Is the above fool proof? No. But it certainly reduces the amount of stress in my life.