Teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:12)
Hooray for Super Woman! She does everything herself, never asking for help, and never complaining. She cleans up after her family, cooks their meals, and does their laundry. She answers the phone, bakes for the bake sale, and tries to pay the bills.
But it doesn’t stop there. She’s also a real estate agent who tells her clients, “Call me anytime if you have any problems or questions.” So her cell phone rings off the hook. She doesn’t enjoy dinner because she’s interrupted a dozen times. After dinner, the dog needs to be walked, but the kids are too busy texting friends and tuning her out. So she walks the dog and takes along her cell phone, so she can have “private time” to talk to her clients in peace.
When she’s back home, she supervises the kids in finishing their homework and chores. Once they’re off to bed, she gets their clothes and lunches ready for the next school day. At eleven o’clock she finally goes to bed herself, thinking about the three houses she has to show the next day as well as her closing appointment. Plus she just signed on a new client who needs to move within the next two months.
After a night filled with busy dreams, her alarm goes off at 5:00 a.m. so she can get herself ready before anyone else is up. She wakes up the kids, makes breakfast for everyone, gets them fed and dressed, and takes them to school. This afternoon, once she’s home from all her appointments, she’ll need to pick up the kids and start the madness all over again. Whew!
Many of us love to play the role of Super Woman. But while her accomplishments might sound impressive, let’s take a peek under the surface at her darker side. This woman takes all the responsibilities upon herself because she doesn’t trust others enough to do what they’re more than capable of doing. And since she never delegates or asks for help, she burns out quickly. She has no clue where her days and weeks and months have gone. She can’t remember the last time she had a vacation, and when she did, she was still taking calls from her clients, taking care of the kids, and trying to please everyone — everyone except herself. Although she enjoys her job immensely and loves her family dearly, she feels empty, overwhelmed, and exhausted. And she has no idea where the time — where her life — has gone. Sound familiar?
The fact is, Super Woman is just one of several scenarios that share a core characteristic — the lack of control in managing time.
Our Crisis of Time
In decades of research and interviews, I’ve heard one consistent theme: American women are in a time crisis. There’s just not enough time. We’re doing more, but are less satisfied. Fueled by both internal and external pressures, we run from task to task without pausing to ask ourselves, Do I really want to do all this stuff?
How do we manage the time to find balance in our super-charged, over-scheduled lives?
To prove that I didn't just imagine this, we commissioned a national survey on women and time. Sure enough, in an online survey of three hundred women, we found that 74% of them weren’t happy with how they spent their time. That’s three out of four!
Roughly half of our group felt busier than they did five years ago (50%), don’t feel there’s enough time to get everything done (45%) and say they don’t have enough time for themselves (43%). One in three women (34%) described themselves as overwhelmed. Interestingly, only 22% of the women we surveyed felt they have an effective system for managing time, and only 27% had well-defined goals. That's close to the number that reported being happy with how they're investing their time on this earth.
The Balanced Women
One group of women (1 in 4) reportedly felt in control of their time and very balanced. (Don’t be jealous! This group gives us hope.) They generally don’t let external factors derail their schedule. They also feel they can control their own actions concerning time management. They're basically happy with how they spend their time.
Not surprisingly, this group tends to be the oldest, and they’re the least likely to have children in the house. Probably due to their age and experience, this group also feels the most balanced.
Here are a few of the statement from our balanced ladies on how they manage time:
*Save enough time in each day/week, etc. so that there is no need to have to manage your time. There will always be free time in every day/week if you set aside time in each day that is not scheduled for anything.
*I prioritize what needs to be done and then prioritize what I want to do.
*I simply make a plan in the morning and follow the plan.
These are just small steps in creating a life of balance and significance. What about the broader issues of purpose and motivation? Are you facing a crisis of time, as so many women are? When is the last time you took time to remember your passions, values, and long-buried dreams? Halftime is a timeout, a time to re-group and plan a strategy to win your game. Ephesians 2:10 reminds us that we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which He has prepared in advance. God creates each of us to join Him in the work He does, the good work He has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing. How will you invest the years you have on this earth where it matters most?
Carolyn Castleberry Hux is a Certified Halftime Coach, and author of It's About Time: 10 Smart Strategies to Avoid Time Traps and Invest Yourself Where it Matters (Simon & Schuster, 2009) along with several financial empowerment books. Her work has been featured on FOX & Friends, USAToday.com, MSN Money, and Essence magazine. For more information, visit www.halftime.org and www.carolyncastleberry.com.