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Conquer Your Weight

Episode #36: How to Make Time for Your Priorities

Show Notes

March 8, 2023

In this week's episode we'll discuss making time for things that are a priority. So often we say, "I don't have time," and it can feel really disempowering. I'll teach you how to take a close look at your schedule so you can decide how you want to spend your time and start saying "yes" to the things that matter most.

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Dr. Sarah Stombaugh: This is Dr. Sarah Stombaugh, and you are listening to the Conquer Your Weight Podcast, episode number 36. Announcer: Welcome to the Conquer Your Weight podcast, where you will learn to understand your mind and body so you can achieve long-term weight loss. Here's your host, obesity medicine physician and life coach, Dr. Sarah Stombaugh. Dr. Sarah Stombaugh: Hey everyone. Thank you for joining me today. Today we have a fun episode. I have been thinking about this one for a long time. My New Year's resolution is to really stop and evaluate the time in my life, how I'm choosing to spend my time. Am I spending that on things that are priorities for me? And I want to share that all with you because I talk to my patients about this too all of the time. So often people say to me, Dr. Stombaugh, I don't have time to lose weight. They feel like they don't have time to go to the grocery store or cook healthy food. They might not have time to exercise. And then honestly, just in general, I feel like this is one of the biggest complaints we talk about as a society that we don't have time to do. Fill in the blank, whatever it is that is being offered to you. And whenever people share these concerns with me, they always sound so disempowered, like life is just happening to them. And maybe if they weren't so busy at work or busy with their kids, then maybe just maybe they'd have time. Or better yet, wouldn't it be amazing if they were rich? And instead they could just hire someone who would do their grocery shopping and do their cooking and anything else to make their life easier. So if you find that you're having these type of thoughts, today's episode is for you because we are going to talk about time and priorities. And the most important thing for today's episode is that you approach it with an open mind. So you may be having thoughts like, no, no, no. She just does not understand. There is no one who is as busy as me. There is no way I could find even just a few extra minutes in my day, or the only way I could find more time is if I sacrifice sleep and I'm absolutely not going to sacrifice my sleep. Having thoughts like those are going to prevent you from going into curiosity mode and finding a solution. So here's a way to check yourself. Imagine I have my checkbook and I have just written a check out to you for $1 million. And all you have to do for me to hand over that check is to find one hour every day for one week without sacrificing sleep. Could you do it? My guess is that most people could find the time. So start even by answering that question. If I would give you $1 million to do so, how would you find one hour every day for just one week? What would be the things you would eliminate from your life? And if you can pause the podcast and answer the question, are there things you're doing every day that you don't even really want to be doing or need to be doing? So really pause and answer it. Are there things you could easily eliminate from your life in order to find one extra hour every day? Everyone may have some different answers that come up based on their lives and their priorities, but let me just share a few generic examples you could consider to add to your list. Could you spend 15 minutes less every day on social media or scrolling the internet or watching the news? Could you set a timer on your evening television ritual so you make sure to only watch one episode or the specific amount that you've decided in advance? Could you check your email a set number of times per day rather than having dings going off constantly? Could you unsubscribe from emails that clutter up your inbox that maybe you spend two minutes every day occasionally, or sometimes you are getting these unintentional shopping sprees because your favorite company sends you a discount that they're having. Could you bring your coffee from home or pre, pre-order your coffee at your favorite coffee shop so you don't spend 10 minutes waiting in line at the coffee shop? Could you pack your lunch to spend or to minimize the time you're spending thinking about preparing lunch or maybe even not going out to lunch or having to buy it in the middle of your day? Could you leave for work maybe a few minutes earlier or even a few minutes later if it would alter the amount of time you spend in rush hour traffic? Could you order your groceries online for pickup or delivery rather than going to the grocery store? Could you hire out services that you don't enjoy, like laundry, cleaning, lawn maintenance? Could you hire a driver to drive you to and from activities? And then what if you had to find even more time in your day? Would there be bigger changes you'd have to make? Would you have to say no to committees or extra projects at work that you're not even really passionate about? Would you be willing to send an email to your boss without rereading and rewriting it a dozen times to make sure it's perfect? Would you set a limit on the number of extracurricular activities your child is enrolled in? Would you be willing to ask your kid to buy their lunch at school rather than pack it for them? Would you go part-time in your job or change jobs to something that fit better with your goals in your life? Would you move to have a shorter commute or to have more support from family and friends? Because chances are you are spending time each day on things that are not a priority for you, and as a result, there's less time available for the other things in your life that you really would like to prioritize. The first step in making any change is to figure out what are you already doing? What is happening right now? How are you spending your time? So I would like you to, I would like to challenge you to do a time audit. So for one week to write down every single thing that you do in a day. This sounds daunting, but it can be incredibly eye-opening. So from the moment that you first open your eyes until the moment that you go to sleep at night, write it down. Write down, how many times did you hit this snooze button? How long did you stand in the shower? How long does your morning routine take? Do you exercise or stretch or meditate? How long do you spend blow drying your hair? How long does it take to make a cup of coffee and go out and buy a cup of coffee? Do you need to empty the dishwasher and pick up a little bit? Do you need to pack lunch for you or for other family members? Do you have a commute to work? How long is it? What does your workday look like? Did you spend time in meetings on projects? Did you take additional time to just to perfect that presentation? Did you reread and rewrite emails before sending them? How long did you spend taking breaks, grabbing a drink of water, talking to a colleague, grabbing lunch? What about your commute home? Did you have any evening events planned? Whether for you or for family members? How did you obtain dinner? Did you make it? Did you buy it? Did you clean up at the end of the night? Did you put kids to bed, get yourself ready for bed? Did you watch tv? Scroll through the internet, read a book. Really at this level of detail, I'm challenging you to write it all down. There is no good, there is no bad. Just an observation of everything that is. And if you actually get honest with yourself, my guess is you'll probably be surprised where you're spending some of your time because once you've written it all down, you can look back at it and really start to reflect, does your time spent align with your priorities? Are there any major pain points in your day? And are there things you're doing that you really don't even want to or even need to do in your day? You may realize that you spent an extra two hours on a work project that took the work from being a pretty decent presentation to an amazing presentation, and maybe that extra two hours is worth it for a huge presentation, like if you're presenting at a national conference, for example. But are you spending two extra hours every single time you give a presentation no matter how small? And does that additional time lead to a bigger payoff? Or would those two hours have been better spent somewhere else in your day? Does the time spent on certain activities actually work towards accomplishing your goals? Sometimes we say things like, I just want to relax at the end of the day. But then we choose an activity like scrolling through social media or going down an internet black hole. And if you think these things are relaxing, you're probably fooling yourself more likely. It's a way to zone out or escape from life, which is actually quite a bit different than relaxing. If this sounds like you answer this question, what does relaxation actually look like for you? It's going to be different for each person. It could be catching up with your partner or a friend going for a walk, taking a bubble bath, reading a book. You get to choose. Or very commonly when we're looking at our time audit, we see that we have these small chunks of wasted time in our day. And a lot of times we might blow those off because we're like, eh, it's just a few minutes. But it's surprising how a few minutes here and there can really add up. And let me give you a couple of examples. Let's say every day you spend an additional three minutes checking your email, whether it's deleting junk mail, reading through the email your dad forwarded to you, clicking on the email announcing a sale at your favorite store, just three minutes every single day in one year, you would have spent an additional 1095 minutes checking email, y'all that is 18 and a quarter hours, two full working days, and maybe a little more. So can I say that again? Just three additional minutes. Checking your email each day adds up to more than two full working days over the course of a year. Or here's a different example from my own life. I'm embarrassed to admit this, but when we moved to Virginia about a year and a half ago, I had gotten a haircut pretty recently, and then I did not make it a priority to find a hairdresser upon moving here. So my hair grew, and honestly, I liked it long, but then it got to the point where it was getting really long, which meant more time drying it when I wash my hair. And it's not like your hair just grows overnight, but slowly, there was more and more time spent drying my hair. And then recently I finally did get a haircut, and I kid you not, it takes a full five minutes less to dry my hair when I wash it. I don't wash my hair every single day, but let's say I wash it three days a week over the course of a year, that is 13 hours extra. I would spend blow drying my hair just because of my longer hairstyle. And if you have long hair and you like your long hair, that's great. It's a choice you get to make on how you spend your time. But for me, it was ironic because I kept thinking, I just don't have time to get my hair cut. But in reality, getting a haircut ended up taking like two total hours out of my life. And I have certainly made that time back in my morning routine not having to dry my hair as long. And at this point, you probably think I'm getting a bit ridiculous, but I just share these all to say all of these habits can add up to huge amounts of time. And honestly, based on my conversations with people, a lot of times we're not talking about three minutes here on emails or five minutes there on blow drying your hair. We're talking about 30 minutes spent scrolling on social media or going down an internet rabbit hole, binge watching TV for multiple hours every night, rewriting an email just to perfect it. Signing up your kids for activities every single day of the week so that you're running around town incessantly, sitting on committees or agreeing to projects outside of your scope at work that you don't even care about. So I want you to stop and think about these because at the end of the day, this is about you. It's your time, and you can really do whatever you want. And so ask yourself, do you like how you spend your time? Are you proud of how you spend your time? If you were to sit down and review this time audit with someone else, like someone close to you, would you, would they agree with you that it was in line with your priorities? Would you proudly own every minute of your day? Or do you actually be a bit embarrassed to say it out loud? And what about all of the things you don't have time for? There really are only 24 hours in a day. So no, we cannot do everything, but we can choose to spend our time in a way that we value. So the next time you think, I don't have time for this, change the language to, I'm not choosing to make this a priority right now. And when you say that out loud, it may feel really peaceful because there are times where we've been asked to sit on a committee and we say no, and we say, I'm not choosing to make this a priority. And that might feel really good, but there's other times where we are not making time for things that we really do want to be a priority. And so when you say out loud, I'm not choosing to make it a priority to go to the dentist or to go to the doctor, or to get a mammogram or to focus on my weight loss, or to go to the gym or fill in the blank, whatever it is that's important to you, that might feel really icky because those are things that you do want to prioritize in your life. And if that's the case, you need to seriously evaluate your schedule and ask how can you make time for the things that are a priority for you? I would love to help you review your priorities and plan how your weight loss journey can fit into your life. If you live in Illinois or Virginia where I'm licensed to practice medicine, I would love to see you for a free 30 minute meet and greet visit to decide if you would be a good fit for a telemedicine based weight loss practice. If this sounds interesting to you, please visit my webpage at That's S-A-R-A-H-S-T-O-M-B-A-U-G-H-M-D dot com, and fill out the form on the individual visits page. Thanks so much for joining me today. I'll see you next week. Bye-bye.
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