How can you start making more resilient time choices?

Within the last year, Apple has come out with a time-sensitive phone lock feature. Basically, when I’ve been using my phone for two hours, it “locks” me out of certain apps. This update also allows me to look through what apps I use the most and how much time I am spending each day, as well as comparing it to previous weeks. I would love to say that it has reduced my time, but really, it’s just made me painfully aware of the time I am wasting.

However, this has motivated me to start logging more of my time usage in personal journals and finding ways to improve it. If I am not focusing my time, I can’t expect to stay focused and productive.

While so many things in life like relationships are not measurable by number- time is one of the few that we can measure. To build resilience, we need to be making resilient time choices. As someone who studied recreational therapy, I have spent a lot of time reading about time management and work-life balance, especially how to use free time. I want to discuss how you can promote meaningful time that supports the rest of our life.

However, what does that look like? Just like many self-improvement plans, this will look a bit different for every person. Yet, there are some guidelines that can help us.

First, let’s break down the average week:

  1. We see that there are 168 hours in the week.

If we sleep 8 hours a night, that reduces 56 hours. Now we have 112 hours to work with.

  • Let’s start with basics like eating and preparing food, which is about 3 hours minimum every day. That’s 21 hours per week.

Now we have 96 hours.

  • School and homework are about 8-9 hours a day. Let’s say 40 hours/ week for school.

Now we have 56 hours.

  • This is dependent on situation, some people have a longer commute, have a bigger family, are committed to volunteering or church or maybe just take longer to get ready and go to sleep. So, for accuracy, let’s reduce it to 5 hours a day.

That leaves us with 35 hours per week to personalize our free time and make resilience-building choices.

This sounds like a lot, but this goes quickly when you add in unexpected phone calls, extra hours at work checking email, social media usage, and other common time-wasters. When I’m referring to using your free time, I’m talking about using it well.


  1. Write out every activity that you do in your free time. Be specific: you can even write down which apps you’re scrolling through for endless hours. Some ideas: Instagram scrolling, taking personality tests, working out, reading the news, calling my family, researching your family tree, looking at recipes you’ll never use, etc. I invite you to write up to 30 activities- write everything.
  2. Cross out everything, except for 5 activities you care about the most. This may hurt a little. Do it anyways.
  3. After you have your list, here’s where I would like to suggest value-driven time management by asking these questions about the 5 activities you left:
    • What am I saying no to? Resilience often means that one choice is going to overshadow another. If you are not saying no to anything, you’re probably not building any resilience. Instead, you’re probably wearing yourself out. While you may argue you’re helping your community. Your community needs the best you and there are ways to work on this balance.
    • What is adding meaning? This is basically like Marie Kondo-ing your time. Do you feel joy when you are doing or planning an activity? Keep it. If you are feeling anxious about your time choices, and staying committed to things for superficial reasons, then maybe it’s time to rethink this.

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