Difficulties with time use are common in people with high anxiety/worry, because anxiety and worry suck up a lot of time and energy. This basic activity is often useful for people with high anxiety or who just want to get some perspective about what they spend their time doing.
Daily Time Use
The activity will only take a few minutes and only requires a pen and paper. It involves sketching a simple pie chart that’s divided into 24 x 1 hour segments.
Often people do one pie chart for their time use on weekdays and another for their time use on weekend days.
Step 1: Add your big, fixed activities to your chart e.g. sleep and work.
Step 2: Add in anything else you do daily. Things like a “grooming” segment that covers activities like showering, dressing etc.
Include segments for things like transport, internet use, TV time.
If this is difficult for you try thinking through a typical day in your life from when you wake up until when you go to sleep and use that information to fill in your pie.
Step 3: Add in any activities you look forward to or that are of high value to you that you do on less than a daily basis e.g. if you do an hour and a half of yoga once a week, create a 15-20 min slice for this.
Step 4: Add in other activities you don’t do everyday that need to get done (e.g. an “errands/shopping” category).
Usually the best way to do this is to make a list of activities you do
a) less than daily but at least weekly
and another list for
b) activities you do less than weekly
Estimate how much time you need to allocate for these activities on a daily basis.
Step 5: If you have anxiety issues add in the amount of time you spend worrying or doing behaviours related to your anxiety (e.g. worrying, checking, researching illnesses or anxiety).
Step 6: Look at your results.
– Do you have extra space for other activities? Alternatively, are you totally overloaded and need to take a tough look at how to reduce the time you spend doing some activities?
– How does your time use reflect your values? Are there things you value highly that aren’t reflected in your time use?
– If you spend a lot of time having anxiety related thoughts/doing anxiety related behaviours think about limiting this time. One idea for people who worry alot is to allocate 15 minutes a day for worrying. Try delaying worrying until your scheduled worry time. You might find that you don’t end up needing the worry time you’ve set aside because worry thoughts tend to come and go.
Step 7: Pick one thing to work on e.g. increasing or reducing the time you spend on a particular activity.
There are lots of variations of this e.g. drawing two pies to represent actual time use vs. ideal time use.