How You Spend Your Time Matters More Than How Much Time You Spend

August 25, 2023
How You Spend Your Time Matters More Than How Much Time You Spend

So often we feel that we should spend more time at home or we should work harder in the gym or with our health. Or we should get it together and advance our career but we feel guilty about spending time away from our families or regret giving up more leisure/hobby/travel time for work.

This is the modern woman’s plight. Our grandmothers and mothers worked hard for us to have it all and while I appreciate that tremendously, what it feels like most days is  less that we have it all and more that we have to “do it all”.

It’s exhausting, stressful and defeating as we often feel like we’re doing a subpar job in all areas or crushing it in one but utterly failing in another.

Women are plagued with the idea of achieving “work/life balance” but the idea of balance is total BS. You have several priorities in your life that you need to tend to, among them may be your career, your kids, your relationship, your family, your community and your health.

Not sure what your priorities are or should be? Fill out this core value exercise and get clear. When there’s clarity about what matters most to you life is so much less stressful because you know where your time, money and energy should go.

Get your FREE guide to finding your core values

Life is full of stressful moments and stressful choices and while we can get rid of some stressors in our day to day, many will remain so we need a host of strategies and skills to better handle the stresses that will show up in real life - real, messy, full, beautiful life.

Balance is unachievable because something will always pull your attention and it’s the trying to fight that notion, thinking all things should have equal focus all of the that causes us so much stress.

Sick kid? That will take your focus right now.

Up for a promotion or on a deadline? That obviously becomes top priority.

Friend or partner in crisis? Shift attention here for now.

Health been neglected for too long? That needs to get bumped up to the top of your to do list.

These shifts happen daily and we intuitively roll with it, but we don’t use this strategy on a bigger scale to be sure that we attend to all of what matters to us in due time and that we don’t focus on one area only and totally neglect the rest.

I speak to this idea in this article about the four burners, the pots that hold our priorities in this article and on this episode of the Dr. Brooke Show.

As the mother of two little performers that live for Broadway, I liken living as a mom/professional/entrepreneur/wife/daughter/friend/insert your roles here as being cast in literally every role that is the production of your life: leading lady, supporting cast and ensemble not to mention you’re part of the orchestra, costume design and stage crew.

You also probably foot the bill for the entire production! So you’re the investor as well.

We are playing all the parts – with varying degrees of support and experience. Personally, I’ve grown into being the kind of mom I’m proud to be and I am a great doctor but I’m not a great business person and I’m always trying to be a better wife. Crushing some roles, needing more rehearsal time for others.

I am also always trying to play the part of weight lifter, #mantrawalk-er  and healthy chef as well as filling the role of woman who gets to bed early and tries to keep up with the ever changing landscape of my hormones.

I also attempt to star as a mediocre piano player and novice gardener.

It’s a lot and it often feels like an incredible challenge to fill all these roles yet stay present with the one that is most demanding right now. To simply do the task at hand and not feel compelled to be spending my precious time, care and energy doing something else – or seven something-elses.

This looks like this:

  • Unable to fully relax during our down time: shouldn’t I be working?
  • Not able to give our all to whatever it is we are doing in that moment. Hang on kids, I gotta check my email real quick.
  • At the gym feeling guilty that we aren’t working or with our family.
  • At work or with our family feeling guilty we haven’t worked out in weeks.

Finding ourselves feeling guilty not matter what we’re doing because we are distracted and unable to give our all to anything that matters to us because we feel so pulled in too many directions.

It keeps us constantly feeling like we don’t have enough time to do all we need/want to do.

Worst, it keeps us feeling stuck in a guilt/shame cycle that we’re not doing enough in any areas of our life that are important for us: working but near tears because your family needs you, trying to remember the last time you had a regular workout routine or cooked a healthy meal for yourself, or skipping those walks because sure they are a great hormone balancer and as helpful for our mental state as a therapy session, but who has the time?

You can’t wait for a time when you’ll have an equitable division of hours for everything that matters to you. As I said above, something will always demand more of your attention, focus and care today, this week, this month, this season and the idea that you’ll be able to “strike a balance” just keeps you feeling like you’re messing it all up.

Quality of Time Over Quantity of Time

Instead of feeling guilty when you are working and not with your kids, bring your A game to work and trust you’ll bring your A game to them.

Work hard, work smart and be fully in your work so that when you go home you can be fully present, not distracted and less stressed.

Sure you worked 8 hours and only spend 2 with your kids that night but isn’t 2 hours of your undivided attention, not checking your phone, not feeling the pull to return one more email and being fully present better than 2 hours when you’re stressed out cuz you didn’t get enough done at work because you felt guilty about being away from your kids?

By that same token, when your family is going through something that requires the majority of your time and attention your focus needs to be directed there and you need to stay present, be your best with them and know that maybe that ratio is flipped and you’re spending 8 hours a day with your family and only 2 on your career, know that you’ll shift your focus appropriate soon enough.

Sound impossible to give everything that matters to you it’s season? It’s not, I promise. I talk about how to constantly assess where your focus should be and for how long in this article and in this podcast episode.

The same can be true of going to the gym. Skip checking your email for work or feeling guilty that you should be with your family right now and just be there. Do your best, spend quality time there – hopefully you know how to get quality workouts in a short time so that you aren’t needing a huge quantity of time to workout.

If you aren’t sure how to do this grab a copy of Hangry or reach out to me.

Focusing more on how good the time is vs. how much time you spend will help you perform your many obligations as leading lady, minor roles and ensemble cast in the big show that is your life and it will help you feel so much more in control of your day to day and your bigger goals.

And do it all with less stress, well, just enough stress.

I say often that stress is not only an inevitable part of life but it’s not always as bad as we’ve been led to believe. Yes chronic stress is terrible for our health and our hormones and we want to resolve as much stress that’s unnecessary as we can. BUT some stress keeps us feeling alive and engaged in bettering ourselves.

Too much stress if overwhelming but no stress at all, nothing that challenges or motivates you is underwhelming. The goal is to be whelmed.

I have found that especially as I enter my second act here in mid-life that approaching stress in a different way is even more vital. Be sure to listen to this episode of the Dr. Brooke Show to hear more.

Life is stressful, we have to decide what stresses stay and what can go, resolve metabolic stressors to our best ability, eat and exercise in a way that support our hormones and make space for all the things that matter to us – without burning up anything that really matters to us, or neglecting something else that also matters for too long.

I talk all about this in this episode of the Dr. Brooke Show.

So choose your stresses wisely, be clear on what matters to you (hint: if you’re stressed about it, it matters to you for one reason or another) and instead of fighting with the impossible notion that you should have balanced time/money/energy/focus in every area of your life all of the time adopt this new way of thinking about your precious time: quality over quantity.

If you’re unclear on what matters most or how to set your priorities, take the time to fill out this core value exercise – it truly is one of the best “stress management” tools out there, to just know what matters most to you.

And of course, if you need my help just reach out!

Work With Dr. Brooke

It’s My Mission to Help You!


Dr Brooke Kalanick, ND, MS, LAc

Dr Brooke Kalanick is a naturopathic and functional medicine physician specializing in thyroid issues, autoimmunity, histamine intolerance, and women's hormone issues including PCOS, perimenopause, endometriosis and infertility. She is the best selling co-author of HANGRY: Balance Your Hormones & Restore Your Joy in 5 Simple Steps. She is also the co-host of the Sarah & Dr Brooke Show podcast. To learn more about Dr Brooke click here.

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