Self-Coaching Strategies: 168

The number 168 may not immediately spark excitement, yet it is one of the most important integers we should know. It represents the allotment of hours every human being receives in a week. Mathematically, 24 hours a day x 7 days a week = 168 hours. No one gets more or less, but we do choose how to spend those hours.

In a coaching exercise, I ask clients to identify where each of his or her 168 hours goes in a given week. A few segments are easily calculated off the top. First, consider the amount of time invested in sleep. Eight hours of sleep per night equals 56 hours (and well done on getting 8 hours by the way). Next, determine the number of hours spent at work each week. For professionals, it varies between 40 to 70 hours. If commuting takes 1 hour per day, add 5 hours to the total.

Working through this example:

Hours in a given week:      168
Hours devoted to sleep:    (56)
Hours devoted to work:    (50)
Hours spent commuting:   (5)
Remaining hours:             57

Pause for a moment to digest: 57 hours a week are all yours. Remember this the next time you say “I don’t have time to…..” or “There is no way I can make time to….” when 57 hours are available.

It is possible to find yourself with a lower number than 57 due to the number of hours worked. For the person working 70 hours per week, that number drops to 37 quickly. This may be an opportunity for a shift in priority. Speaking of priorities, the next step in this exercise is to identify everything else you do in a given week. The list is extensive, and when it is completed, prioritizing categories and identifying the number of hours needed per week to get them done leads to more insight. Continuing our example:

Exercise: 5
Walking the dog: 8
Family dinners: 7
Zoom calls with friends: 4
Household chores: 6
Time in the car/errands: 7
Daughter’s volleyball: 3
Meal prep: 6
Personal care:  11
Total: 57

The more specifically hours are pinpointed during the week, the more helpful the feedback will be in your assessment. Were the number of hours spent running errands or exercising a surprise? Did you fail to spend as much quality time with your family as you intended? Perhaps you chose to watch 14 hours of your favorite TV show and felt more stressed as a result. Consider this an opportunity to take note of the reality of your priorities. The data outlines them to you in a clear and neutral way. Learning where the hours actually go leads to the ability to make intentional changes based on what is most important. Because priorities change, think about each week as a blank spreadsheet to budget the 168 hours. There are some weeks a 14-hour TV marathon may be exactly what is needed.

I encourage you to study a seven-day period to determine where the time goes. Allocating the 168 hours proactively is one way you take care of you.